Quiet Munduk and hectic Canggu
It feels weird to write about travels during the coronavirus outbreak. But maybe we can make some of you escape out of their living room with our journal and start putting pins on that map for when all of this will be over...
In search of cooler weather and fewer crowds, we spent a few days in Munduk, a sleepy town amidst beautiful rice terraces in central Bali. Here, tourism is not as invasive and aggressive as in other parts of the island. Forgetting all the (non-existing) Western eatery options, we had food in very small Warungs. Many times we were the only diners besides the owner's family, eating delicious simple Balinese food made from local Grannies and Mamas. Also, we finally felt brave enough to rent a scooter, and really enjoyed the freedom that came with it!
Munduk was probably our favourite place in Bali, the one we felt was both most authentic and relaxed. The rice terraces are not as famous as the one of Jatiluwih, but we thought they were very beautiful and peaceful. We wandered for sunset walks up the terraces, ended up meeting friendly locals while sipping strawberry juices and staring at the many shades of green. In a little cafe overlooking the terraces we had our cups of Bali Kopi alongside with a little bowl of coconut sugar and some toasted cocoa beans in palm sugar that were just divine.
The rest of the days went by cruising the winding roads with our scooter hunting for waterfalls, avoiding monkeys crossing the road and visiting temples.
Our favourite waterfalls
A short scooter ride outside Munduk and 680 steep steps down (and then again UP!) we got to a magical place called Melanting waterfall. We were alone to enjoy a little pool off the big falls, in a lush tropical forest. Tommi ran around naked with his waterproof sandals over the shallow stream, while Peter and I took turns in cooling down in the very cold water!
We also liked the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls, way more touristy but honestly the best leisure waterfalls we encountered. There were even changing rooms! The twin falls end in is a very large pool where the water is always waist-high, and the falls themselves are not so strong so you can get close and take a full 'shower'. Tommi took ownership of a little stream off the main pool, and started the never ending game of throwing stones in the water. We got there around 10 am and by then there were only few people and a couple of (wannabe?) influencers flexing muscles or waving silky hair, but it got crowded pretty quickly!
The temple: Ulun Danu Beratan
We got mixed reviews about visiting one of the most famous temples of Bali, even depicted on the 50K Rupias note, but we were close to the Bedugul area so we decided to go.
The parking was more full than expected, and it ended up to be because of a local Hindu ceremony. Balinese ceremonies seem to happen every other day. All of a sudden, the road is closed and you have to wait out a parade of men, children and women in their traditional dresses, carrying large offers to the local temple. The visit turned up to very pleasant, and even the slightly tacky playground outside the temple was a good activity for us!
After these quiet, idillic days, we rolled south between the sea and the rice fields of Canggu. I think there could be lots to say about the massive growth of this over expanding enclave, but I am not sure we could give a comprehensive assessment of the situation. Sure is that you can see how hotels, yoga studios, beach bars, vegan eateries and co-working spaces are popping up around rice fields, completely transforming the landscape and clogging the small street with insane traffic.
We took advantage to these few days to unwind in a nicer accommodation where we could cook ourselves some meals (It felt incredible after almost a month of eating out to prepare our own food -- and even do the dishes), planning some future travel steps, while enjoying a wealth of food options and kids play hubs. Worth to mention is Parklife: it was right in front of our accommodation, and we went there one night by chance as it was pouring down rain as it was the closer eatery. We ended up going back to spend a half day sipping coffee and booking flights whilst Tommaso had the time of his life playing with the giant jumping castle and the myriad of toys.
Ready to leave the island of Gods, we realise we got completely unexpectedly conquered!