The driver I had from the airport was to be our driver for daytripping around Bali. I managed to negotiate a day rate for the three of us – 400,000IDR. Our itinerary would be focused on Ulun Danu as the main stop, any other stops along the way were considered bonus.
This is the only way I would tour around Bali – a private car with driver and the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin. We were able to pace ourselves and take our time at each stop, as long or as short as we wanted. No other tourists in the group to dictate our speed.
Taman Ayun Mengwi
Regarded as one of the most beautiful temples in Bali, this is simply a lovely stroll through a well-kept garden. We didn’t stay very long here, 15 minutes tops. In the heat, the beauty of the garden diminishes as you focus on escaping into the air-conditioning of the car.
Luwak Organic Coffee Plantation
Free tour and coffee/tea tasting
A lovely stop on our trip, we were greeted by a very nice man. He gave a tour of his garden, which had many fruits and spices that we were familiar with: pineapple, cocoa beans, pepper, lemon grass, and of course, coffee.
The luwak is a rodent/cat looking animal that supposedly eats the coffee beans. The beans pass through the digestive system of the animal and are dropped intact, husk and all. The beans are roasted and ground into a special blend, which is unique to the luwak process of fermentation.
We were invited to taste the coffee blends – coconut coffee was a sure winner for me! Ginger tea, lemon grass tea and a whole array of teas and coffees were at our fingertips for a taste. Really, they were delicious!
Ulun Danu Temple Complex
This was the main attraction of our trip. It is a temple built at the edge of a lake. At high tide, the temple is immersed to its steps with water. While we enjoyed the sunny weather, we arrived during low tide and did not witness the temple’s submersion. Next time!
We did arrive on a somewhat auspicious day. The locals were all dressed in white and a procession was lead out of the temple and onto the streets. A shrine and effigy were carried on the backs of men, honouring their gods in worship.
The temple site provides a great vantage over the lake, sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains and the crystal blue sky above.
At the lake’s shores, young boys were fishing. We could actually hire rods ourselves, 20,000IDR per rod and a bag of worms. I wonder what kind of fish they would get here…
Natural Hot Springs
Although we were starving and continuously told our driver to pull in somewhere, he took us off-road into the jungle. At the bottom of a small descending path, was a natural hot spring. I’m sorry I have forgotten the name and couldn’t find it written anywhere in my notes, but it was about 15 minutes from Ulun Danu Temple.
Its mainly locals bathing here, but its not a crowded spot.
Free to visit the area, entry to temple by donation (2,000IDR is acceptable)
The last stop of the day was at Tanah Lot. Here the day ends with the sunset, the most magnificent backdrop to a temple visit.
It is certainly free to roam around the complex, its an open space beside the sea shore. But to visit the temple atop the rocky outcrop, you’ll need to first be ritually cleansed in the blessing pool – as you rise from the blessing, you will be asked for a donation – 2,000IDR is acceptable.
Ritually cleansed, you are permitted to enter the temple site. Similar to the Hindu practice, rice is placed in the centre of the forehead as a mark of respect and welcoming. The frangipani flower is merely a fashion statement!
If you’re brave enough, you could go and visit the Holy Snake for blessings. In a shadowy spot beneath the cliff face, the holy snakes are kept away from prying (non-paying) eyes.
And to top it all off, head up to the cliff top bars and enjoy a cold beer as the sun heads home for its daily slumber.