Sunday, June 8, 2014


Visited May 2014

Munduk, background on ridge, has some pretty nice surrounding countryside..

Munduk is a busy mountain village in central-north Bali, located on the main road leading up to the Lakes Bratan/Buyan/Tamblingan caldera (known collectively as the Bedugul caldera) just to the east.

The town is a ribbon development stringing just over 1km along the main road which runs along the top of the ridge. There are nice views both into the valleys and across to adjacent ridges each side. The surrounding countryside is pretty good to explore. This oblique Google Earth image is pointing more or less directly east bottom to top. The waterfall top left has a ? because I never found it - see later.

The surrounding countryside. The main road has awesome views in the area just above the "?" and around the ridge of Lake Tamblingan. From there it continues along the ridge above bigger Lake Butan and then drops to the Lake Bratan/Bedugul area with a turn-off to the north coast. The white line at bottom is the route of our cross-country trek - see later. Aditya Homestay was our digs in Munduk.

The balcony of our room at Aditya Homestay had pretty good views of the adjacent valley and parallel ridge. You are looking south-east here. The mountain far left is Guning Batukaru, a dormant volcano and Bali's second highest peak at 2276m (approx 7500ft). These pix click-expand for detail.

 Zooming in on some of the rice fields areas.

Something I didn't expect - Munduk's height also gave it views of the coast west of Lovina - all the way to the north-west tip of Bali (and of the volcanoes of north-east Java when the cloud cleared - see shot on the main Bali page).

Munduk's bustling main street had a pretty full range of businesses. I can't report on restaurants because Aditya Homestay food was so good and inexpensive. There seemed to be plenty of other homestay restaurants in the near vicinity. Cloud in background is over the high rim of the 3 lakes caldera which the main road must climb - a great journey with outstanding views when the cloud clears.

I fancied checking the surrounding countryside and mapped out a good walk from Lake Tamblingan to Aditya Homestay by back roads down the parallel ridges. Google Maps showed the distance at just under 6km and time at 100 minutes. We didn't intend to include the rice fields this trek, but a wrong turn included that area and we ended up back on the main road some distance west of Munduk. Duh! With stops for pix and refreshments in a kafe overlooking the rice fields the walk took about 4 hours and I figure we covered around 11km.

Step 1 was getting up to the lake. We got Aditya's driver to take us up the main road and then down to Lake Tamblingan to make a kind of circuit with the following walk. The main road is very steep and windy in parts with good viewpoints if the cloud is clear.

The side road down from the highway had elevated views of the lake but not from the heights of the main road closer to Bedugul.

The area at the south end of the lake has a small 15000idr entrance fee. It's kinda underwhelming - Lake Tambingan is much smaller at about 2km long than lakes Buyan and Bratan and the area above does not have much going on - has a temple towards the right of image which may be clearer if you click-expand - but the whole scene looked pretty run down. I think you can do jungle trekking and watersports somewhere around here. Our driver to Bedugul next day told us he used to live by the lake but flooding forced his family and many others to move away.

Our route from the lake right back to Aditya. I figure our wrong turn was just after the "ridge/rice fields..." place marker. Note the last 1km trudge back up the main road to Aditya was a pretty steep uphill slog. Not so welcome after more than 3 hours.

Once on the road, we soon came to this overview. That's Munduk way down there close-center. Google Maps tells me I took this shot at 1200m whereas Munduk is about 840n.

With so much height to lose the road is largely downhill. But not everywhere as the bottom shot shows - here the road is actually swapping ridges. This sort of countryside typifies 80% of our walk - mixed bush and scattered farming. Closer to Munduk were a few small villages lining the road.

About half way thru the walk we came across this outfit parked beside a restaurant. Outfit caters for tourists who want to check the scene by bicycle.

Betsy checks out the crazy tourists.

When we finally hit the bottom of our ridge road and found ourselves overlooking the rice fields we realized we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. No matter - we saw an area I originally intended to miss (it's scenic but can't match the areas around Sideman or along the rice fields road further west), although the extra time taken meant checking the waterfall the other side of town would be a bit rushed.

THE WATERFALL TREKThere are 2 waterfalls in the deep valley across the other (northern)side of the Munduk ridge. The first is close to town, the second reached from a car park alongside the main road about 3-4km east. I tried to find the former.

I wasted a bit of time looking for the start of the non sign-posted track which is where those people are very near the pedestrian crossing to the village school. This is just west of the shops area in town.

The path starts off as a nice stroll down the forested mountainside with scattered dwellings. But Aditya's district map showed I needed to take a left hand turn along here - the trouble was there were at least a dozen left hand turns - no signs. After trying 3 of them which all eventually ended up in someone's front yard, I gave up. Time lost on the ridge/rice fields walk meant it was getting late in the day - I didn't want to end up deep in the valley on a tricky track in fading light. So I gave up. Given more time I'm sure I could have found it.

All was not lost - the higher parts of the path near town afforded this nice view of Bali's north-west coast.


Aditya is a class act. It gets excellent reviews on the user and booking sites, is inexpensive (we paid about $US30 including breakfast on Agoda in shoulder season May 2014) and is situated only 30m from Munduk's main street with panoramic views over the valley and ridges to the south. Our room was spacious, spotless, the bed was comfy (I thought the pillows a bit hard but that's and individual call) and had a spacious bathroom with good hot water. It was quiet and cool (fan only needed this high, and not at night0. Our balcony had those killer views. The family running this place gave excellent service.

Food was very good and at Bali budget restaurant prices. The restaurant also had those panoramic views. Free wifi was strong here - extended to our room close upstairs but I'm not sure about other rooms.




Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Last visited May 2014.

Previous visits to Jimbaran had left me underwhelmed. A nice enough beach but too much fishing junk and flotsam in several sections. However I managed to stay there a few days in May 2014 and noticed that the complete beach was pretty well groomed - probably because of the expansion of the resort and beachside seafood restaurant activities there.

Jimbaran beach is a little over 4km long just south of the airport. However the first km down to the fishing village breakwater (diamond placemarker) is not particularly atttractive and has few activities backing the beach. The fishing village backs the breakwater and south of that is a string of beachfront seafood restaurants - 2 dozen or so between the yellow lines. Sari Segara resort towards the south end of this area was my digs. There is another half dozen seafood restaurants mid beach. At about 85% south is a bunch of half a dozen less expensive beachside cafe-bars. Some flash resorts range up the hillside at the far south end with rather nice views north to the airport.
With the exception of sections immediately adjacent the airport and some mangrove areas all the narrow isthmus behind the beach is fully built up - mainly narrow lanes with local housing. 2 main roads run north-south with lots of businesses. The eastern-most, the highway which runs to Nusa Dua/Tanjung Benoa, is insanely busy with traffic.

This is shot from the fishing breakwater looking north to the airport runway (click-expand to see aircraft) - the beach doesn't look too bad here but in fact is markedly inferior to the main beach. Close to the village in shot are a few more seafood restaurants and some flash fishermen's houses - but further north there is no development by order of the airport authority.

It's just over 3km from camera to south end of beach. First few hundred meters is packed with fishing boats - gets pretty active late in the day when they are leaving for a night's fishing. As your incoming aircraft is on its dry season glide-path to the airport and you look down and see fishing boat lights half way to Java, it's mainly these dudes.

Behind the fishing boats is a bustling little fishing village. This market area is immediately back of the beach. We couldn't find any tourist-standard elcheapo restaurants here or in the rest of the village - but there are plenty of eats stalls where you put in an order and eat off your lap sitting on a plastic seat.

Immediately south of the fishing village begins a strip of over 20 seafront sea-food restaurants. These are the southern-most 8 or so. There is also an ATM area in this section. The big joint is an abandoned 80% complete tourist development across the other side of the beach road. My Sari Segara digs is the smaller peaked roof joint just to the right.

The beach is at its best adjacent seafood restaurants - nicely groomed and even at full tide plenty of sand. Note the water at Jimbaran is not pristine - the whole Seminyak-Kuta-Tuban-airport-Jimbaran strip has too much development run-off to ensure nice clear water. Didn't notice any floating plastic bags as seen at Kuta - so that's a step up. 
Wet season (Oct-March) visitors should note that this beach has prevailing winds blowing onto the shore - so plenty of flotsam etc at this time, plus bigger surf. The surf at our time of visit was very benign - ankle ticklers most of the time - check the pic.
Not too many diners in this lunch-time shot, but.....

....things pick up around sunset.

About 40% down the beach you have another bunch of fishing boats. There is no fishing village behind the boats - no doubt most of the fishermen live with the other locals in the maze of lanes and alleys behind the beach.
The beach itself is still pretty good here.

Just past the fishing boats is maybe half a dozen more seafood restaurants. I figure these are set up for guests of the rather nice seafront resorts that start just south - it's about 20 minutes walk up to the northern restaurants. 
There is an okay small market area set up behind the restaurants.

Heading south from the mid-beach restaurants we have some nice resorts backing the sand. Look for Jimbaran Puri Bali and the Intercontinental. The beach is still fine to start with, but....

....narrows down from about the 70% mark.

Gets real skinny a little further south. Note in this later low tide shot that the high tide mark is right up against the back of the beach. If you click-expand you will notice some sandbags in the bank - no doubt to protect against wet season storm wave erosion.

At about the 85% mark begins a set of 6 or more budget priced beach cafe/bars. By budget I don't mean Kuta Poppie's Lane bottom budget levels, but way cheaper than the Jimbarin beachside seafood restaurants and considerably less than Bali midrange hotel levels. This is the closest tourist level budget food we could find to our resort - it took us about 30 minutes to walk the beach to here. A pretty pleasant walk. Cafes seemed popular - a lot of surfer-dude types late afternoon, no doubt calling in on their way back from Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin reef or some other Bukit peninsula hell-hole.

Fellow diners cool down between courses.

Jimbaran beach from the southern end. Low tide shot shows plenty of sand but if you check the wet sand right to the seawall in back it becomes obvious there is no beach at highest tide. Structure behind sea wall is the FOUR SEASONS' beach club (there is a nice rim pool out of frame to left). Budget beach cafe umbrellas can be seen maybe 250m up the beach.

The FOUR SEASONS and several other high end resorts range up the hillside at the southern end of Jimbaran beach. These are very clear from way north on Kuta beach. I've always wanted to stay here - gotta do that bank job first.

We wanted some where in Jimbaran which was inexpensive, not far from the beach and had a nice pool. At just under $us40 including buffet breakfast on Agoda, across the road from both the beach and seafood restaurants and with 2 pretty nice pools, this place seemed to fit the bill. One potential problem was some scathing reports on Trip Adviser and similar.
As you can see, this is an older Bali-style hotel. The pools were nice places to spend time and in this bigger one, swim a lap or 30. I have no idea how good the rooms are in this section (note - the top rooms would have good beach/ocean views - those in the far wing [northern] would also look up the beach) - our budget room was in a separate block some distance behind camera.

Budget it may have been but our room was spacious, clean, quiet, had a comfy bed, an ok bathroom with good hot water, an (old) tv, fridge and a jug. The aircon was effective, not too noisy, but got a life of its own in the last 6 hours, cycling on and off irrespective of the setting on the control. Free wifi didn't extend to the room, but was okay in the restaurant and pool.
Be careful of the tiles in the walkways and on stairs which get slippery after rain - don't ask how I know this.

Food was interesting. The inclusive buffet breakfast couldn't match the two prior more expensive places we stayed, but was adequate. Other meals were pretty good - prices were higher than the Bali budget level we tend to favour, but not over the top and bargain by western standards. And considerably cheaper than the beachfront seafood restaurants across the road (which are still good value compared to western counterparts). Sari Segara's meals seemed fine and the restaurant service was excellent. As it was elsewhere in the resort. 
Overall we found this a good value, comfortable hotel. The fact it is relatively close to the airport is a bonus, although aircraft noise was not an issue.

Sunset is an event with travelers coming from all over south Bali to grab a bite as the golden orb sinks into the sea.

The locals seem to be attracted too..