Monday, January 23, 2017

A Departure into Unknown Lands

Away from the tourist-packed, chaotic, happening places of Bali lies a mystical land. Quite forgotten by everyone, Eastern Bali is a world in itself. The black sand beaches, spill down mountains, gigantic volcanoes, ancient temples, lush rice terraces offer nothing less than tranquillity and food for the soul. For all those who wish to spend a day or two in the arms of nature, exploring the rich historical heritage of Bali, basking in the natural sensations of the volcanic mountains and crystalline beaches and absorbing the traditional lifestyle in the typical Balinese villages, a trip to the Eastern Bali is compulsory.

There are loads of places to explore in Eastern Bali. In order to enrich your spiritual value, Goa Lawah Temple can be an option. Located in the Pesinggahan Village, around 2-hour distance from Denpasar city, this temple is built around a cave opening that is inhabited by hordes of bats, and hence called the ‘Bat Cave’. In the centre, you will see Shivaite shrine, thousands of year old together with a bale adorned with the motifs of Balinese mythical dragon. The huge banyan trees keep the atmosphere in the temple cool and breezy, and will make you feel refreshed instantly. Another worth visiting temple in the east of Bali is the ancient Besakih Temple, which also known as Bali’s ‘Mother Temple’. Over 1,000 years, it sits 1,000 metres high on the south-western slopes of Mount Agung. The high location of Mount Agung gives the temple a mystical quality. Besakih Temple features three temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. You will witness a cluster of temples and shrines, each having their own story and uniqueness.

Bali is considered to be an all year diving destination for the diving enthusiasts. As the famous diving spot, Tulamben comprises of a black sand slope with a thousand-year-old shipwreck and coral gardens. It contains a stunningly diverse underwater ecosystem, and therefore the main dive sites offer different physical environments. The wreck is humongous and a fantastic playground to explore, while you can also find the rare pygmy seahorse in the area. It is the perfect place for underwater photography. Amed is another famous diving spot for soul and body relaxation. Gear up your diving suits to explore the underwater flora and fauna. The teeming marine life here includes various tropical fish, sea turtle, reef tip shark, rays and vibrant coral gardens. You can also spot the traditional Balinese wooden boats called ‘Jukung’ available for fishing charters.

For the beach-goers, the recommended beaches in the east of Bali would be Bias Tugel Beach and Candidasa Beach. Located very close to Padang Bai Port, Bias Tugel Beach is also known as the Secret Beach. You have to walk through a fairly steep and rocky terrain to reach the white sandy beach. The clean water allows you to dive or snorkel to see the beautifully coloured coral reefs and various ornamental fish. Travelling further along the eastern coast of Bali, you will spot Candidasa Beach. This beach offers a tropical climate with thriving coconut trees, perfect spot to unwind. The wind mixed with the smell of the ocean, and the scent of the trees creates an intoxicating perfume. If you are carrying a picnic bag, you may want to stop by and relax for a few hours.

The trekking addicts have a lot of mysterious and adventure spots to explore in the east part of the island. Kintamani is the most favourite trekking destination. The magnificent view of the Batur caldera lake serves as the main attraction, surrounded by the captivating Mount Batur range. In no time you will feel yourself sinking in the beauty of Lake Batur, Kintamani highlands and the fascinating coffee plantations. While at the foot of Mount Abang, you can choose to trek up through dense tropical forests. The trek is considered to be a pilgrim to top of the high spirited atmosphere. The view from the top is simply breath-taking with cloud hovering over the lake and the volcanic cone of Batur on one side, and Mount Agung along with a magnificent shoreline on the other. If you are one of those serious hikers, you could consider taking the trek to Mount Agung.

For those who want to spend their day enhancing their knowledge on the local culture and lifestyle, Ujung Water Palace will bring you closer to Bali’s historical heritage. This famous palace consists of large pools and historic structures set against a backdrop of Mount Agung and the eastern shoreline. You will be fascinated by the blend of Balinese and European architecture. The whole park covering an approximate 10 hectares of land gives you enough space to stroll around and marvel at the ancient structures. While on the historical journey, make sure to visit Tirta Gangga. On entering the site, the first thing you will notice is a pond where rows of guardian figures holding cudgels are neatly arranged. The polygonal stepping stones will allow you to tour on the pond. The huge towering fountains, marvellous ancient springs and huge banyan trees will be a cool retreat in the humid afternoon. The Klungklung Palace in Semarapura can be another famous historic attraction in the east. The palace includes a floating pavilion, main gates and the court of justice. You will be amazed by the paintings that lead up to the ceiling. The grounds are easily walkable and absolutely gorgeous. In the floating pavilion, you would find Balinese artists creating wonderful paintings.

If you are keen to blend with the locals, Sidemen Village would be perfect for strolling around lazily. Located near Besaikh Temple, this village will feed you well with lush, green paddy fields, river valleys and wild pastures, all nestled along the slopes of Mount Agung. Take a walk in the rice fields and interact with the villagers to understand their lifestyle closely.

The Eastern part of Bali has lots to offer, both to the eyes and to the soul. You can choose from an array of mountains, temples, beaches, paddy fields or royal palaces, and plan the itinerary yourself. The list is so exhaustive that it is impossible even for a local person to visit all paces in one go. So, either you are a tourist or a local resident, Bali will never stop to amaze you. “The more you read, the more you will Know. The more you Learn, the more places you will go.”
 
This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine