Chasing Waterfalls

Buoyed by my apparent newfound ability to ride a scooter with a passenger without crashing, having a nervous breakdown or generally terrorising the general public, we kept hold of the little Honda Vario for a couple more days. I mean, we asked and paid Rp50,000 per day for it. We didn’t just nick off with it. I know I’m from Stockport but even I draw lines somewhere. We left most of our crap in storage in Lovina because as much as I’ve gained confidence on a scooter I’m not quite at the Indonesian level of transporting everything I own plus a family of five on the back of one. We were heading to Munduk in the hills because we’d heard there were waterfalls and I’m a sucker for a waterfall.

Views you look at in a stunned silence. Predominantly because you’re walking up a massive fucking hill and there isn’t enough air in your lungs for actual speech.

We headed out of Lovina just as it was getting light and cruised through the stunning Bali countryside. It’s a million different kinds of beautiful around here, and the temples! I’ve never seen so many bloody temples in my life and I’ve been to India. There are these beautifully ornate structures on the side of the road, huge things which you’re not allowed in to if you’re not a Hindu Balinese. The road was long with many a winding turn, up and down these hills which hair pinned back and forth. Steep inclines? No worries. Sharp curves? Got them. Combine the two and I started to wonder if I could get Rescue Remedy in drip form to administer intravenously.

It was fine though, we both got the hang of the steep corners pretty quickly and the bike was pretty good at handling the two big Westerners hell-bent on high places, despite both the headlight and the speedometer being utterly fucked. It must have been around 7.30am when we rolled into Munduk in search of a place to stay. Our first choice was full but fortunately there is a metric shit tonne of accommodation here. What you don’t want to do is choose one at the bottom of a flight of fucking steps to rival Everest. Some of the steps were knee height. I’m not even shitting you. I don’t know what possessed us but before you knew it we were handing over money to the lovely chap at Nyoman Homestay, preparing a small bag to take hiking and accepting offers of tea and those awesome tiny bananas that are far too sweet to be any kind of good for you.

This is how we did it before GPS, kids.

Then, clutching our phones with Maps.ME, off we went to put three waterfalls in our eyeholes. We’d considered scooting up to where trails to the waterfalls join the road but instead we decided to walk up to Munduk falls along the main road then follow the trails from place to place. In the blistering fucking heat. I legit didn’t know the human body contained the amount of fucking fluid that leaked out of my head and dripped off several of my chins. Tarrant complained that her eyebrows weren’t adequate for the job as sweat trickled into her eyes. Fuck me, this was a hill.

Kopi luwak. Because someone once saw fit to process and consume the shit of a weird looking cat.

This is technically backwards, most people do this the other way from Melanting to Red Coral to Munduk. I am very very glad we did it this way, it meant we got most of the uphill out of the way at the start and every footstep we took from Munduk falls onwards was a step closer to a shower and a nice sit down. I don’t know how long it took us to get up the hill, about a year I think, but eventually we found the tiny trail down to what is actually Golden Valley waterfall and a little warung called Eco Cafe where you can try a cup of ethically produced kopi luwak which is that expensive coffee that got shat out by a fancy cat. They assured us that the civets that pooped out their beans lived wild in the area, there were no caged civets involved in the production of this coffee and given how proudly locals usually display their terrified looking caged civets I don’t think they have any reason to lie about them being wild. There doesn’t appear to be any shame in using caged civets.

Put this in your coffee grinder. Or your mate’s coffee grinder. Y’know, if you’re the kind of people that happen to own coffee grinders.

But at Rp30,000 a cup we decided to share one, and we were given a sample of normal coffee to compare. Ooh it’s good y’know. I mean, I’m not about to renounce tea any time soon but as coffee goes it’s a good one. It’s really smooth. It tastes like coffee but without the bitterness. We were given some Bali palm sugar to put in it if we wanted but I don’t think you should be putting sugar in the world’s most expensive coffee, I don’t care how local it is. We found a big sign not long after the cafe which explained why you should reject caged civet kopi luwak. For a start, in captivity their lifespan is reduced from 16 years to just 6, and they’re very difficult to catch so they often shoot them to wound them and try to rehabilitate them in captivity. Mostly though, they die. And even if you gave exactly zero fucks about the welfare of the civets, the stress of captivity changes their body chemistry thus producing inferior coffee. So your shit coffee will actually just be shit.

Local coffee plant. Civets eat the cherries and crap them out and that’s how we get kopi luwak.

So anyway, this waterfall, and what a lovely waterfall it is too. We didn’t go all the way to the bottom because my entire lower body recoiled in horror at the thought of trying to get back up all those steps so soon after hauling my vast arse up a massive fucking hill so we chucked it in our eyeholes from a little viewpoint. You can easily get from here to Red Coral falls without going back to the main road too. If you’re using Maps.ME to get around you’ll be going off piste here but just ask the nice humans at Eco Cafe where you need to go and they’ll point you in the right direction. It’s a pleasant enough stroll, not too many hills or other upsetting things, it’s just fucking hot.

Golden Falls. Something to look at when you’re chucking Rp30,000 worth of excrement coffee into your chops.

We parted with money at a ticket office staffed by a bloke with no teeth and a very angry, tiny dog and shuffled down a little bit to Red Coral falls. It’s the kind of waterfall you really wish you could stand under before you melt but the power of it might fucking brain you. It’s not a big one, it’s just strong and fast and it kicked up so much spray that if your camera wasn’t waterproof you’d probably want to stash it where ever passes as dry in this area. I went for a little paddle. It’s bastard cold but bugger me backwards, it’s lovely. My nerve endings might disagree but my feet were on the verge of taking liquid form so my nerve endings can do one.

Red Coral Falls. Might not look like much but the force of it is epic.

So off we went, over the bridge and on to the last waterfall. You won’t get lost, there are plenty of stalls along the way flogging souvenirs, drinks, snacks and spices and they’ll point you the right way. I bought some red Tiger Balm, I figured I’d need to reward my muscles with something if they were to continue functioning in a desirable fashion, and the woman told me there were a lot of steps downhill in our immediate future. Oh joy. I thanked her and as I was leaving she said, “And maybe on the way back you can come here and eat something?” The way back?? Fuck that shit, lady! We’re carrying right on through, there’s not a snowflake’s chance in hell that I’m retracing any steps here. And it was this final leg that made us ultra happy we’d chosen to do this backwards.

Melanting Falls. Made even more stunning with the knowledge that you’ve nearly finished the hike and there’s beer in your immediate future.

Yes, the hike up the main road was hard and relentless and made us question all of our life choices. But I think if we had to haul ourselves up these steps I’m not sure I could have done it without sitting down a lot and crying. Even downwards was difficult, you’d have to be insane to want to get up them. Once you’re at the bottom of the steps you turn left and there it is. The stunning Melanting waterfall. We jumped into the river to see if we could get closer and it’s probably doable but perhaps not without causing yourself some manner of injury so we contented ourselves with a paddle and a few photos, checked out the viewpoint a couple of treacherous, muddy metres up, then started heading back to Munduk.

I have a minor obsession with waterfalls and my favourite part of a waterfall is the very bottom.

Once the trail meets the main road you’re pretty much there, you just have to get up the fucking trail first. And yes, it’s an incline, one last slog upwards to food. At one point you’ll get to a choice of directions; a path that looked like it went down, a gentle upwards trail, then there were some steep steps. Don’t be the steps don’t be the steps don’t be the steps. We checked the map. It was the fucking steps. I dramatically hauled myself up them behind Tarrant, I complained so much I’m surprised she didn’t just leave me there, I was so hungry I was ready to catch live animals and eat them raw if only I could stop moaning for long enough, then we heard vehicles. We were so, so close. I dragged my whingeing carcass to the top, sent Tarrant off to find out how we got into Taman Ayu, a homestay and restaurant at the entrance to the trail because dammit, they had food and we wheezed our way in.

Sweet joy of joys. If you’re going to do this, and I highly recommend that you do, I would say do it backwards as we did. Also, it might be worth paying a local to scoot you up to the first stop so you don’t lose enough fluid to flood Wales before you even get to see anything good. And if you really really want to wrap your chops around some kopi luwak, do it here so you know it’s ethical and you’ve got the waterfall to look at to take your mind off the fact you’re consuming something that’s already passed through the digestive tract of a small mammal.

Munduk, Bali, Indonesia
Stayed at: Nyoman Homestay

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