Exploring Bali in two days-Day 2

Snorkel boat, Lovina Bali

Snorkel boat, Lovina Bali

A man presented himself at the door of our cottage at Angsoka Hotel in Lovina, Bali, saying simply, “I am your boat driver.” We hurriedly grabbed our snorkel gear and sarongs and, following him down the alley and onto the beach, found his narrow-hulled double-outrigger canoe, called a proa, fitted with a small outboard motor. The waters of the Bali Sea looked glassy, like a quiet lake, but our boatman said even the gentle waves lapping at the sand were more than they would see in July—it was hard to imagine a sea any flatter. We skimmed across the crystal clear blue water and, having only one set of snorkel gear between us, were offered another set in excellent condition. We donned mask and snorkel and flopped into the bathtub-temperature water. What a surprise! Beautiful blue tipped coral and scads of brightly hued fish abounded, finning their way unconcernedly beneath us. We languished for more than an hour, floating lazily under the hot, early morning tropical sun and paddled through dense clouds of fish before declaring ourselves waterlogged.

It was an auspicious start to our second day of touring Bali with our driver, Gusti, on our Bali Blues Adventure tour. We almost regretted eschewing the dawn dolphin watch when our boatman said he saw more than 200 dolphins, but snorkeling was more attractive to us, plus we got to sleep in.

Git Git Waterfall

Git Git Waterfall

Since the day dawned sunny and bright Gusti suggested backtracking just a bit to catch Git Git Waterfall, a pleasant interlude despite the incessant whining of the urchins clinging to me trying to sell me things. After gently shaking them off we drove quite a long distance, once again ascending to cool heights upon volcanic ridges, this time overlooking Mt. Batur, rising 5,633 feet in all its black, volcanic glory, having last spilled its molten magma across its flanks as recently as 2000, when it spewed ash more than 900 feet in the air.

Dining at one of the ubiquitous buffets that line the rim of the caldera at Kintamani, we filled up on decent, if uninspired, versions of Indonesian standards after fending off a few dozen sellers who surrounded the car. The views were spectacular as the volcano sports a unique set of triple cones, sub-craters that are creatively named Batur I, II and III. The dramatically bleak moonscape is relieved by the azure waters of Lake Batur that skirts the base at its southeaster corner, partially filling the caldera.

Mt. Batur

Mt. Batur

We drove down, down, down into the caldera, reaching the desolate newer lava flows. Amazingly, we saw small plots of onions and tomatoes being grown in tiny patches of soil that had taken hold. Reaching the shores of the lake, and losing track of the varied itinerary, we were surprised to find Batur Natural Hot Springs.

Batur Natural Hot Springs

Batur Natural Hot Springs

Donning our bathing suits still damp from our morning snorkel, I expected the typical grotty, roughly constructed hot springs I’ve seen all over North America, from Nevada to Canada. Instead, we found a luxurious set of pools, nicely tiled, with Hindu ornamentation, all very new and clean. We eagerly sampled all the pools, starting with a shallow pool equipped with a spout high above us that dropped a stream of warm water squarely on our heads if we positioned ourselves just right. The adjacent pool was slightly larger, also sporting a dousing spout. A small, shallow rectangular pool provided a row of concrete headrests that were more comfortable than you’d think, so you could stretch out with your body just barely submerged. A humorous sign proclaimed this the Floating Sunburn pool. These three pools are fed 120 degree water from an aquifer 2090 feet below the surface, but the pools themselves range from 99 to 104 degrees. The largest pool, big enough to swim a decent lap, was filled with cool water, though cool is a relative term when you’re just eight degrees below the scorching equator.

Steve Mullen, under the spout

Steve Mullen, under the spout, at Batur Natural Hot Springs

“I love a tour where you’re swimming every few hours—that’s my kind of tour,” I said, languished longer than I should have, for we careened down the mountain at a breakneck, though safe, speed. We felt so satisfied with our day that we waved Gusti on when he slowed at another handicraft village where hordes of people were swarming hundreds of stalls, and declined to walk through the densely crowded streets of Ubud. The artistic and cultural nerve center of Bali, Ubud is a favored stop by many, but the throngs of tourists choking the streets were a shock after touring lazily through the less populated northern half of Bali, and the expensive looking Western chain stores and endless yoga, zen and aromatherapy centers weren’t that appealing.  Gusti seemed mildly surprised, but we said, “Point us toward home,” and away we went, arriving back at our starting point in the early evening, in time to catch another glorious sunset on Kuta Beach.

All in all, we enjoyed our two day tour of Bali tremendously, and appreciated the flexibility of having our private car and driver, which gave us the ability to modify our itinerary and proceed at our own pace, lingering in the Bali Sea in the morning and hot springs in the afternoon, and reducing the shopping time. Others might prefer the reverse. Other than the incessant vendors, we found the people throughout Bali to be friendly and welcoming, and it was gratifying to see how many natural wonders a small island can contain, from temples in the sea to massive volcanoes. Shady coffee plantations, outstanding snorkelling, plunging waterfalls and pastoral rice paddies show some of the best Bali has to offer.

See related articles, Budget Travel in Bali and Exploring Bali in two days-Day 1.

 

Information:

Bali Blues Adventures
Jalan Benesari #69
Kuta, Bali
0361-9212121
Baliblues69@yahoo.com
www.balibluesadventure.com
$65/person/day for 2 day tour, including car, driver, accommodation, entrance fees, most meals except dinner.

Angsoka Hotel
Bina Ria Beach
Jalan Kalibukbuk
Lovina, Bali
62-362-41841
Hotel@angsoka.com
www.angsoka.com

Batur Natural Hot Springs
Desa Pakraman Batur, Toya Bungkah, Kintamani
6281-338-325-552
info@baturhotspring.com
www.baturhotspring.com

Getting There:

Several airlines provide air service from the U.S. to Bali, including Qantas, Cathay Pacific and KLM. Prices for airlines departing from San Francisco International Airport were running from $1,300-1,700 with one or two stops, and takes about 21 hours.  Check Skyscanner for more information.

 

All photos by Inga Aksamit.


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