Tuesday, July 23, 2013

South Bali (Kuta)

For the last leg of our tour to Bali, we moved our base to Kuta. We stayed at Ramayan Resort and Spa. Check out the review here.

This is a very touristy place and I guess it is the area which receives the maximum visitors in Bali. It has a number of hotels, restaurants (providing different cuisines), bars, etc. Kuta beach is a favorite amongst visitors and gets a number of surfers here. We witnessed the Mumukur ceremony here which is supposed to be similar to the Shraddha ceremony performed in India.
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We ate at the Queen's in Kuta which offers authentic Indian cuisine. We loved it so much that, we had all our meals in Kuta here.

We did a short half-day site-seeing tour during our stay here. Our first stop was at the Garuda Wishnu Kencana. It is a cultural center where you can see Balinese dance in its open air amphitheater. We saw the Barong dance performance there. Barong is a lion like mythological creature of Bali. Barong represents the good and is an enemy of Rangda, the demon queen who represents the bad. The battle between Barong and Rangda is featured in Barong dance. 

Check below for the performance schedules at the center.


It has huge statues for Vishnu and Garuda. This is still a work in progress. When completed, it will depict Vishnu riding the Garuda and will be the tallest statue in the world. The partially completed statues are beautiful and worth a visit even with the current state of completion.

From here we went to Uluwatu. This was a fitting climax to our tour to the beautiful island of Bali. The temple is located at the edge of a cliff. You can walk along the edge of the steep cliff which offers spectacular views all along. The sound of waves of the roaring Indian Ocean is a constant companion. After seeing a grand sunset we made our way back to the hotel.  

Bali has lots to offer. By the end of the vacation, we had collected some fabulous memories of the place and were left with the feeling that given the time, there was so much more that we could have experienced. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mount Batur

We had read some great reviews on the climb to Mount Batur but were really unsure of whether we will be able to do it. Finally a part of the group decided to "go for it". (The youngest was 9 years and the eldest was 66 years).

The climb to the top of Mount Batur needs to start early enough so that you reach the top to catch the first rays of the sun, which is a spectacle. We started from our hotel at 2:30 a.m and reached the starting point for the climb by 3:00 a.m. We arranged for a guide from the Mount Batur Guides Association for the climb, which is a must, given that the entire climb happens in the dark. The guide services come along with a package deal for breakfast which includes eggs, bananas and tea/coffee. These taste divine after the exhausting climb to the top. Torches are provided for, which prove useful. Carry sufficient water along, but ensure that it doesn't weigh you down during your climb. You can also get pull-overs on hire here as well. We opted for pullovers as the air was chilly, but they soon became an unnecessary load to carry as we started the climb. 

It took us a around 3 hours to get to the top which enabled us to be there in time for the sunrise. The sunrise was spectacular. We sat down to watch this spectacle unfold before our eyes, sipping on our warm cups of coffee. It was a very peaceful experience and took away all the fatigue that was felt due to the hard climb.

Mount Batur is an active volcano. It has a height of 1717 meters. From the top you can see the Mount Agung in front of you and the beautiful Lake Batur below.  Mount Batur last erupted in the year 2000.  The last major eruption happened in 1972 in which a village below got destroyed. You can see the black patch caused by the lava flow.

After seeing the stunning sunrise, and having the energy boosting breakfast, we walked around the area to see the caldera. One can see a number of crevices through which volcanic steam is coming out. 

When you start the descent, you actually realize the height and the steepness of the climb which had happened in almost total darkness earlier in the morning. Climbing down was fairly fast and took us around 2 hours.

A tiring experience, but I would say one of the must-do experiences in Bali!!