We made it back to Bali after our short delay in Kuala Lumpur. Mt. Agung was still threatening to erupt but was only spewing a bit of ash and the winds were blowing the ash away from the airport. Upon landing we headed straight for Ubud. The children love the monkey forest and we enjoy the vibe in Ubud.
We found a tiny homestay right in the village. The family obviously worked hard to carve out their space and treat their guests with so much kindness. At the time we were staying they had a total of four rooms and a pool. I loved staying there and would highly recommend, if you go to Bali, it is worth the effort to find a smaller homestay that is owned and run by the family vs a larger resort.
After a few days we decided to hire a driver and head towards the north west of Bali. We drove over the mountains and the views of the island we fantastic. We stopped at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a temple dedicated to water, and especially to the water that flows down to irrigate a major amount of crops in the basin. It is on the shores of Lake Bratan which is surrounded by lush mountains and rain forest. It was so refreshing and beautiful in the mountains above the basin!
The drive over the mountains is a bit hairy as the road is more single lane and quite windy. It was wonderful to see the mountain homes and farms with families sitting out on the porch and waving with such enthusiasm because they rarely see visitors on their stretch of road. We descended into the area around Lovina and stayed there a few nights. (not recommended)
After a few bad nights sleep we headed out for our next destination of Pemuteran. Along the way we had a chance to swim in the natural hot springs called Banjar and to see the Buddhist Monastery Brahma Vihara.
Buddhism has a very minor representation in Bali and this temple is very recent, however just to the west on the island of Java there is an ancient Buddhist Temple called Borobudur which dates back to estimated 9th century. Bali is unique in the Indonesian islands as a majority Hindu, the rest of Indonesia and Malaysia are predominantly Muslim. It is suspected Bali became a refuge for Hindu worshipers during the Muslim conquests around the 15th century. Buddhism is slowly making a return to the area.
The population of North Bali is sparse, and farming and fishing are the major industry of the region. Tourism does exist but nothing close to the extent of the basin area. For me it was a much better taste of what Bali might have been like before the 'modern tourist' era. The pace is much slower and more relaxed. The air is cleaner. There are much less tourist shops.
We stayed for a week in Pemuteran and I would happily return. The waters of the Pemuteran Bay were relatively clean and we were able to do some decent snorkeling right off the beach. We didn't get approached to buy things on the beach and found many quiet places to eat with great food. If you have any interest in going to Bali I highly recommend making the extra effort to get to this part of the island before it gets 'discovered'.
Now we have to say good bye to Bali and get ready for our next adventure.
Australia here we come!