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Few Days in Paradise – Bali. Episode 2: Bedugul, Mengwi, Tanah Lot

Bali travel: Tanah Lot sunset

Bali is a mountainous island dominated by volcanoes. Some are extinct, others are still active, but there is, obviously, no risk involved, as they are carefully monitored… whenever an erruption is imminent, people will have been warned a few weeks in advance… But, the Ubud mountains are unbelievably beautiful, and the landscapes are absolutely breathtaking… It is worth renting a car and visiting as many places on the island as possible before enjoying a sunset in Tanah Lot.

It is not difficult at all to get a ride… every ten meters, someone will offer you a lift. Of course, you will have to drive a very hard bargain, ask around in order to get to the lowest price possible. I don’t remember how much it cost me, but I guess I paid around 200-250,000 rupies a day (that is about 18-22 Euros) for a mini-van. Cars on rent are rather hard to find, but you can find mini-vans… Certainly, with a driver to go – I hardly think you would want to miss this unique sightseeing tour by paying attention to suicidal motorcyclists or bored dogs… as a matter of fact, I spotted few foreigners driving cars – they were driving motorcycles.

The paths to the mountains are, mostly, parallel from the south to the north, that is why it is wise to choose the tracks on the main tourist routes of the island…

On the first day, I set off towards Bedugul… the way is fabulous – rice fields, hills, splendid panoramas on the valleys, but also picturesque villages… almost at every curve along the sinuous road you will feel the urge to ask the driver to stop so that you could take a photo or simply admire the landscape… Finally, we got to the top, to the Bedugul lake, after over two hours of driving, but with lots of stopovers. Even at the very peak of the drought season, the mountains can be wrapped in clouds, so I was lucky enough both in 2004, but also in 2009 to find Bedugul drowned in sunrays… and there is plenty to see.

On the very lake, there is one of the main temples in Bali, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a temple dedicated to the goddess of water, a very important goddess that provides the water which is so necessary to the agricultural fields in the valley… and it is only natural that the temple should be on the water, on the lake… if you have seen any photo introducing Bali, it is highly likely it was from Bedugul, it is one of the definitive images of the island – a tall temple with a pagoda-like roof in the middle of a lake, surrounded by mountains. In 2004, I also witnessed an extremely interesting typical ceremony, in 2009 it was more silent, fewer pilgrims, but just as beautiful.

The Botanical Garden is not very far away… I need not tell you too much… you can suspect what there is there, too… a botanical garden on an island which is a floral paradise can only be undescribable… it covers one hundred and fifty-four hectacres on a mountain ridge, hence, it can only be a paradise-like place.

On the way back, we stopped at a restaurant. All-inclusive fans can be happy – in Bali there are numerous restaurants where you can pay a fixed amount of money (which is negotiable) and you can eat as much as you like out of tens of dishes… And when this place dominates whole hectacres of rice fields terraced on the mountain ridge, your appetite can only increase…

We travelled further down the valley, and, on the way to the seaside, we stopped in the small town Mengwi, the former capital of the kingdom bearing the same name. Although I had seen plenty of Bali temples until that moment, the state temple Pura Taman Ayun is truly special… due to its numerous pagodas, placed very close to each other, a remarkable place). Here, you can climb in a tower and see the complex from up there (I believe it is the only place in Bali similar to this!) but you can also go round the sacred precincts where the tourists are off limits, but you can see anything… As usual, when ceremonies take place, the place is extremely interesting and colourful, but we did not witness any ceremony this time either, although some Bali inhabitabts were hitting the drums around the complex…

And, as the evening was drawing close (since Bali is close to the Equator, the day is as long as the night almost all year round, consequently, the sun rises at around six o’clock in the morning and sets around six o’clock in the afternoon all through the year), we decided to speed up towards Tanah Lot, the famous temple on the seashore (the other typical image in the touristic leaflets about Bali).

Unfortunately, the road towards Tanak Lot crosses the outskirts of the capital, Denpasar and the rush hour in Denpasar outshines any rush hour in Bucharest… millions of motorcycles on the roads in perfect chaos and hundreds of cars rushing towards Tanah Lot to catch the sunset. We got lucky, in spite of the average speed of about ten kilometres per hour, we managed to reach our destination close to the sunet… Unfortunately, we had to leave our car somewhere far away, cross a rather vast bazaar where one could find anything and then find a spot on the panoramic terraces… Obviously, the rush was well worth it… we witnessed one of those sunsets that made Tanah Lot legendary, being lucky for no shred of cloud was on the sky to ruin this magic moment. And it is truly magical, I cannot even put into words what one feels there, simply try to imagine looking at the photos and, if possible, getting to Tanah Lot on an August evening! Again, I am not denying that this place has turned into a sort of “tourist trap”, extremely commercialised, but if you can ignore all that (and, thank God, the sellers are not at all aggressive, as in other places), you can only enjoy one of the most memorable sunsets you have ever seen… I cannot say many things about the temple… it is rebuilt with Japanese money and it is also one of the most important temples because it is dedicated to the sea goddess… And, when you stop to think how much fish offered by the sea goddess the Bali inhabitants eat, then you realise that the goddess must really be respected.

After the nightfall, I had a fruit juice in the area, I looked around a little in the bazaar and I left back to Ubud… where we were in for an excellent meal at one of the restaurants there… But we were also in for a new day of explorations the following day… but, about that, in tomorrow’s episode.

Pictures of Bali

Bali travel: Balinese temple

Bali travel: on the road to Bedugul

Bali photos: Bedugul landscapes

Bali photo: Bedugul

Bali picture: Bedugul flower

What to do in Bali: visit Bedugul Temple

 What to do in Bali: Visit the Bedugul temple

Bali photo: Bedugul Temple

Bali photo: Bedugul

What to do in Bali: Visit Bedugul

What to do in bali: visist the Bedugul botanical garden

Bali photos: botanical garden

Bali picture: Botanical garden

Bali travel: Bedugul botanical garden

Bali restaurants: all you can eat!

Bali photos: Rice pads

Bali photo: Rice pads

Bali travel: Megwi

What to visit in Bali: Mengwi

Bali photos: Megwi

Bali travel: Mengwi

Bali picture: The village of potters

Bali landscapes: Rice pads

Bali photo: Rice pads

What to do in Bali: Visit Tanah Lot

Bali pictures: Tanah lot

Bali photo: Sunset in Tanah Lot

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    My name is Cezar (where the nickname "Imperator" comes from) and I have travelled to 105 countries around the world. In this blog, I would like to share with you stories, memories, travel tips & tricks and news to help you plan your journeys !

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