When you want to get a super early start so you can watch the sunrise over some UNESCO rice terraces but the guy at the homestay won’t stop feeding you, though to be fair driving round the hills in the dark with no headlight probably wasn’t the best plan ever so he might have saved us from ourselves. We’d shuffled out of our room as quietly as we could but he must already have been awake because he popped his head around the corner and said, “Tea? Coffee?”
Oh go on then, a cheeky little cuppa couldn’t hurt hey. And then there was bananas, and fried bananas, and this sweet black rice, and some manner of sweet substance carefully wrapped in something or other. We shoved what we could into our pockets, wolfed the rest and hit the road as it was getting light. It did mean we got to watch the sunrise over this quite beautiful lake too, and all without wrapping the scooter around a tree because I could actually see the road in front of us.
I literally have no idea what possessed us to go to Jatiluwih from Munduk. There are perfectly good rice terraces walking distance from town. There are some lovely terraces not a huge distance from Ubud, or so I was told. But no. I wanted to see what made rice terraces UNESCO and if it meant we had to ride two hours up and down hills then so be it. It’s a stunner of a ride, but I think every ride around Bali just is.
It’s wonderful cruising through local towns and villages, seeing their elaborate temples, marvelling at their ability to carry entire loads of chickens and fuck knows what else on the back of a dilapidated motorbike, swerving to avoid dogs and potholes and other road users because there are no real road rules here. Keep left, unless it suits your purposes more to keep right. Maybe stop at red lights unless you think you can get through. Overtake. Undertake. Doesn’t matter as long as you hit your horn to let them know you’re there. Once you get used to it it’s pretty liberating.
These rice terraces then. You’re meant to pay an entrance fee to the village but we were too early for that so we figured we’d pay on the way out. It’s not much, Rp40,000 or something and I believe it goes to the upkeep of the complex irrigation system. You can walk through the fields, quite possibly for hours should one choose but I think once you’ve seen rice you’ve seen rice. We did a small circular walk. More of a stroll really.
And here’s the thing; mature rice isn’t half as pretty as young rice in flooded fields that reflect the sky and the trees. I mean, it’s cool. It hadn’t really occurred to me what rice looked like when it was ready to harvest. Sometimes I’d look at a flooded paddy field and wonder where the actual rice was but apparently I mustn’t have given enough shits to actually find out. Turns out it grows quite tall and the rice is in husks that eventually sprout. I don’t know how they get the rice out. One day I’ll go on a fucking tour or something so I can actually be knowledgeable rather than just pointing at shit and going, “Ooooh. Pret-tee.”
A quick cuppa tea later and we were back on the road and guys, the human buttocks are not designed to be on the back of a scooter for this fucking long. I swear. We shuffled around on the bike trying to get comfy, stopping every now and then to stretch our legs and apologise to our coccyxes. By the time we got back to the homestay in Munduk I couldn’t bend down. I’m not even shitting you. I’m already at that stage in life where bending down is accompanied by lots of old-lady noises, throw the scooter related arse pain into the mix and I think I’m about ready for my care home now, please. We still had to get back to Lovina too but there were a couple of things to check out along the way.
There’s a Buddhist temple called Brahma Arama Vihara which you can put in your eyeholes so we very much did. It’s pretty cool, defintely worth a look, and at the top there’s this kind of mini Borobudur. I mean, super mini. I think the only reason they can get away with calling it that is on account of the little stupas modelled on the ones at Borobudur. It killed a bit of time though, then we headed to the nearby Banjar Hot Springs to appease our muscles.
We had no idea what to expect really so we panicked and rented a locker by the scooter park where we stashed our stuff. Turns out we didn’t have to do that. There are places to change once you’re inside and there’s a cafe and everything. We only went in two of the three pools. The top, narrower pool is a bit cooler than the larger pool. You basically just chill. You can swim around. Stand under a fountain. Whatever you want. They’re hot springs, I’m not sure what else to tell you. You’ll get covered in this fine layer of brown shite, there are showers so you can scrape that crap off you but you do sort of leave feeling a little bit dirtier than when you left.
We cruised back into Lovina for our last night here before heading to Ubud and rinsed off in the pool at Pulestis Hotel. I’ve gotten a little bit attached to this scooter despite the obvious flaws. Y’know, the whole not knowing how fast you’re going thing, and the fact you can only use it during daylight hours or you risk ending up in a ditch. Maybe when we’re home I’ll invest in a hairdryer on wheels of my very own.
Jatiluwih, Bali, Indonesia
Stayed at: Hotel Pulestis, Lovina Beach