Bedugul Part 1 – The Balinese Highlands

Southern Bali is beautiful there is no doubt about it. Between the Kuta/Legian region and Ubud/surrounding areas, there is plenty for you to see, taste and do. The sights are unquestionably beautiful and unique. However, because of its ease of accessibility, you could easily get lost within the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowd. A couple days after we land in Bali, we hire a van to take us all up to Bedugul, a town in the central highlands to see a different side of Bali. Our 2 day adventure here is definitely one to remember.

Carrie, Paul, Jon and I are staying in Strawberry Hills hotel, which basically comprises of a bunch of individual rooms nestled in a garden with its own koi pond. The accommodation itself is a beautiful place to stay, overlooking some farmlands right down the hill. This region is supposedly famous for their strawberries and I’ll admit, they are really good. So because we get here via private vehicle, we have no way to get around. Our first order of business is to get to town and find some food and scooters. We jump on a public van (kinda like a Jeepney in the Philippines), where a driver and a money collector sit in the front seat and run designated routes where you can jump on and off wherever. We get to town and find a nice local restaurant to eat. We liked it, the flies loved it!

Yum!
Yum!
Our quaint little hotel in Bedugul
Our quaint little hotel in Bedugul
Our view of the village right before lunch

One of the first things we noticed was the lack of foreigners. We literally could not see any other tourists wandering the streets, or eating at the restaurants. Could it be that we stumbled onto something here? However, this also meant that no one here spoke English. Problem! Luckily, a gentleman by the name of Rhamdan came to our rescue. He rented us scooters for 2 days and we were off on our way!

Bedugul is situated around Lake Bratan, part of a 3 lake complex made up of Lake Bratan, Buyan and Tamblingan. We quickly jump on our scooters and head down the main road zipping past Lake Bratan. The road is well paved and in great condition. On either side we can vast fields with houses, small shops and the occasional hotel along the street. With the warm island sun on our faces, we make our way up the mountain road, westward to connect to Lake Buyan. However, we don’t make it far before the rain sets in and we decide to head back down the mountain. As we pass by Lake Bratan again, we pull in to the temple complex of Pura Ulun Danu, one of the directional temples of Bali.

The western wall of the temple
The western wall of the temple
Our first directional temple in Bali!
Our first directional temple in Bali!
Lakefront totem
The "caps" are made of straw!
The “caps” are made of straw!
This lakefront temple is meant to look like it's floating on the lake
This lakefront temple is meant to look like it’s floating on the lake
More shots. I went a little nuts here
More shots. I went a little nuts here
A cloudy, misty lake.
A cloudy, misty lake.

Pura Ulun Danu is situated just a few meters from the lake shore, and is meant to give the illusion of floating on a lake. We take the time to walk around the grassy area here, watching locals fish with fishing lines and kids play. The temple here is still being used today as a place of prayer. Inside, it is calm and quiet, a perfect match for the overcast weather above.

Statues around the temple
Statues around the temple
Beautiful lake Bratan
Beautiful lake Bratan
Just fishin' for dinner
Just fishin’ for dinner
Travel buds
Travel buds

 

It took much planning to get to this point and being here, away from so many foreigners, we couldn’t help but feel that we were getting a glimpse at a slightly more genuine slice of Balinese life. The locals are friendly and always smiling at us. As we head back to our hotel, the air chills down to a shiver worthy temperature. This is only alleviated by our beautiful washroom with hot running water, and cartoon specials on our tiny TV. Today, life is good.

Travel Notes

  • During our 2 night stay, we stayed at Strawberry Hill Bedugul Bali. The service is friendly, and you get breakfast here for free. The upstairs dining area has particularly nice views in the morning. Rooms are very comfortable and fairly clean. The washrooms have a great shower with lots of hot water that’s perfect for after a day of running about
  • the guy who rented us scooters is named Rhamdan. He can be reached at 081 916 268 316, or Rhamdan.donix@yahoo.com. I don’t know how relevant this information is now, since I’m writing this a little over a year after renting from him, but give him a call if you can’t arrange scooter rental through your hotel
  • transportation to Bedugul from Kuta or Legian can be arranged through private van hire. During high season in early August, we paid about $60CAD for one way. The drive is about 2.2.5 hours depending on traffic.
  • it might seem scary to jump into their public transit (it looks like an old van), but it’s really quite cool! You feel like a local (kind of)
  • There is a main market in town, where you can buy various souvenirs and what not. I didn’t really buy much but it’s worth a gander.
  • There’s a corner store along the southern border of the main part of town, close to a 3 way intersection that sells beer. I found it hard to find beer outside of restaurants here.

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