A Travellerspoint blog

Sediman and Nusa Lembongan island (Bali)

Mar. 1-4

Goodbye Ubud! We're off on the adventure trail. That took us to a very small, little town called Sideman (see-deh-man). This is situated along the volcano's hill, though we still had several great views of the volcano peak itself from town and our hotel. We chose Sideman because we ran into a hippie couple from Berkeley (yep, small world) who spoke highly of its beauty and nature. And, because it's the road less travelled by tourists.

Sideman proved to be a mixed bag for us. First of all, yes, it was very pretty and perhaps more traditional and virgin than other locations one visits in Bali. People without fault would all stare at us (happily) and smile and say “hello”. Kids without fault would smile big and try their 5 or 6 words of English on us. And as we walked around, we saw Bali folks working hard along the rice paddies (make that really hard). Often barefoot. Several of the men just wearing a sarong instead of shorts. Women carrying huge heavy things on their heads while climbing the muddy paths along the rice paddy.

The hotel in Sideman left a little something to be desired (patty thinks it left A LOT to be desired). When we checked-in, we were the only guests there. Mind you, the Berkeley hippies loved the place. And, there was some charm--it was an open air hotel. So, your room couldn't completely be sealed-off from insects and spiders and such. We saw a spider that was probably about 5 inches across. (The woman, who came to give us a massage, actually touched it!!) Patty didn't care for this too much. Then that evening, we had the delightful surprise of finding ants crawling all over our bed. On the plus side, the bathroom was also an open air bathroom. That was pretty cool. Ren showered with rain water as well as the hot water from a pretty good shower. We took pictures. Patty won't let us share them.

Our most poignant memory of Sideman is likely our “small” hike. We were hoping for a 1 hr hike in the morning; ya know... before the sun rose into a scorching, burning, hellish mass above our heads. Nice idea. But when you're more or less mapless and looking for landmarks on freshly rained-on rice paddies, you might miss a few turns. Our trail of tears took us about 3-4 hours to complete.

With the noon sun approaching, we were sure we were lost. As we walked further in-land, villagers seemed to look at us whiteys more and more puzzled... “Why are they here? What do they want?” We encountered countless field workers with sickles for rice farming firmly in their hands. The sickle sure would be a simple way to shine these silly westerners. No?

Eventually we made it out unscatched though perhaps 5lbs lighter due to water loss. People, as always, were as friendly as can be. Including the topless woman bathing herself and her children along the road.

The picture below is of rice midway in the harvesting process. We saw this several times during the hike :-)

Nusa Lembongan:

We stayed in Sideman only one night. Next morning post hike, we were on our way to the next hippie-recommended location—Nusa Lembongan, a tiny island off the southeastern coast of Bali. The reason for going to Nusa was that the beaches throughout Bali were mediocre at best. Very little sand and lots of trash. We're talking real trash too—bottles, bags, old shoes, and all sorts of plasticy non- biodegrable junk that washes up ashore from other islands or Bali itself. Progress!

Supposedly Nusa would afford us beautiful clear blue waters. Thus, we planned to spend one night on the tiny island.

Getting to the island was quite cool. We took the local boat from Sanur at 8am. This was a 30 foot (maybe longer) wooden boat. Without a dock, the boat comes perhaps 40-50 feet from the shore and then we just walk towards it. This while holding onto your luggage. Watch out for the waves!

90 minutes later, we were ashore. We rented a scooter and we're off to find the hotel we reserved. The roads, if you can call them that, weren't driveable at times, but that's part of the adventure. Once at the hotel, we just kind of beached, rested, ate, etc.. We did find a pretty little white sandy beach. It's not the stuff that beach dreams are made of, but it was quite nice. We assume we'll see those types of dreamy beaches when we finally make it to Thailand. At least, we're counting on it.

Posted by dacostas 02:41 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Ubud, Panestenan and Besakih (Bali)

Feb 26 - 29: Center of Bali isle

Our next stop was Ubud. This is away from the beach, towards the center of the island.

On the way from Seminyak to Ubud, we made a few stops at touristy silver, wood working businesses. The stuff that tour buses want you to believe is a vacation. Since we were on our own, we looked quickly and forged ahead. We did make a good stop at the Bali Bird Park. Patty was swarmed. Evita would be jealous.

And eventually we arrived in Ubud.

Little did we know this would be our favorite location in Bali. Ubud is towards the center of the island. Far from the intense tourism of Juta and Seminyak. There one can unwind in rice paddy walks, visit temples, eat well and make a good, relaxing vacation of it all.

During our 4.5 days (4 nights) there, we accomplished most of that, but certainly not the relaxing. We've yet to master how to squeeze in time to relax.

Here's the view from our hotel window. The dark volcanic looking thing is the volcano in Bali.

We visited the local palace and template during our first evening. Here's Patty desecrating something likely highly religious.


We took the time to try out a Balinese cooking school. We tried the LakaLeke cooking school close to the Alam Shanti hotel. This was one of the highlights of the trip.

Our instructor was, of course, Balinese. And he took Balinese gastronomical traditions to heart. We started everything with fresh ingredients from the garden. Everything was ground by hand using a mortar and pestle. The kitchen was open-air and we were the only students. The pictures will hopefully convey how wonderful everything smelled and tasted. In particular, for Renato, the chef made several of the dishes firey hot. It was kind of a religious experience for him. And for Patty the equivalent epiphany was the banana desert. Small banana dipped in simple batter. Boiled with a vanilla bean and then coconut shavings on top. It was divine.

Otherwise, food in general hasn't been particularly remarkable. Its good. Its fresh. Its cheap. That's about it. Both of us have really like the $1 fruit smoothies. Banana and pineapple in particular. Ren's enjoying spicy food, though Balinese food certainly isn't spicey and more than a few waiters have been surprised with how much chili he's consumed. Patty's favorites so far, beyond the banana desert, have been a few of the Western food restaurants we tried. Her staple was Mie Goreng (fried rice with stuff). We developed the Mie Goreng index in Bali – a quick way to see how expensive or cheap a new restaurant was.

Among the many highlights was our walk through the rice paddy. The falling rain added to the mystical quality of the morning

Ran into a few monkeys in town.

This one was swinging around wildly.

And joined in a hindu festival celebrating the approach of Nepi - Hindu new year.

Patty and I ventured into two small towns after enjoying Ubud. One was Panastenan --a short day trip from Ubub -- the other a new destination on the other side of the volcano's mountain. More about that later.

Panastenan was our effort to go "real" Bali... a little further away from congestion. It was just that. Gorgeous rice paddies. Beautiful scenery. Just over all wonderful. At least, it would have been if we had rented a scooter. :-) Rice paddies are terraced. They feature intricate irrigation systems that depend on gravity. That means hills. That means our choice of locomotion -- the bicycle -- was our undoing. Luckily, we did survive the trip.

Patty during happier times :-)

Leaving Ubud, we visited what's probably the largest and most significant temple area in Bali, Besakih. It was much grander than we anticipated -- we were impressed by the size of the temple area. And it was quite interesting to learn that they used some of the stones that came from the volcano explosions on the island.

Posted by dacostas 01:57 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Seminyak and nearby area (Bali)

Feb 24-25: The trip really begins

Singapore was nice, but it was cheating. Staying with family, being ferried around in a convertible Audi and feeling like special guests at a local sat night party/gathering... that's cheating. And that's over now.

We've arrived in Bali where we know no one nor anything. Its all up to us.

Our hotel.

We were immediately struck by endless buzz, smoke and "beep-beep" horns along the moped-filled streets. You hear mopeds and scooters honking everywhere in Bali. Patty and I weren't ready for it. We had idyllic visions of pretty, serene beaches, temples and forests. Rice farming, right? Seems like the Balinese have other plans. They've moved on and are working hard to advance their lives. So this is the "real" Bali -- scooters, congestion, trash on the streets, as well as beautiful ceremonies, people with great smiles, amazing history and everything in between. Its life moving forwards here.

Settled-in, we began the tourism by visiting Tanah Lot. Patty will tell us about it later. I'm just adding some cool pictures.


On the same day, we continued to Nusa Dua where we beached a bit

Then lunch at Jimbaran, a fishing village. A great place to eat.

then sunset and a cacophonous holy ritual. That's probably the one and only we'll attend.

Some hungry little monkeys around us.

Posted by dacostas 02:54 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)


Next stop Raffles hotel: 2/23 - 2/24

Hi-a folks. We were on-board and ready to go, but the pilot announced a short delay. Nothing to worry about. Naturally, the flight was canceled about 2 hrs later. Thanks United. Good work.

Patty and I made it to Singapore relatively unscathed 24 hours later. We used the extra time in California to complete a few more mundane travel prep tasks. And then we were off.

First stop in Asia was Singapore! As land came into sight, I pulled down hard on the bus-stop signal cord and shortly after we touched ground. Singapore was a quick visit for us. We hung out with Marc Naidu and girlfriend Vanda. Marc was nice to host us at his swanky flat. We also saw Diann, boyfriend Andy and Mr. & Mrs. Naidu.

We did the standard touristy stuff one does in Singapore. Arab street, China town, Little India. And a Singapore Sling at the Raffles.

Breakfast at Botanical Garden

Patty enjoying some dumplings

Ren at the Raffles

Posted by dacostas 02:51 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

Ready for Take-off

Stuff goes bye-bye

Hi! We're still just testing out the blog. But for now we'll share this special, special moment—when our stuff goes bye-bye. Getting rid of our stuff was among the million and one things we had to do to prep for the trip. "Pods" seems to be the perfect solution. It was much easier packing and loading the stuff once. Hopefully, the next time we think about it will be upon our return. :-)

Posted by dacostas 01:03 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (2)

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