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Beyond the tourist spots in central Bali
When most people think about Bali island, their mind goes straight to the crystal clear waters and beutiful beaches, but what isnít as publicised is that in the centre of Bali lies a land beyond dreams.
Bali is probably one of the most talked about destinations in southeast Asia for its parties and honeymoon packages. Itís on billboards all over the world Ė beaches, resorts, the surf Ė all this making seasoned travellers as well as travel dreamers long for a chance to get the this exotic far-away land.
When most people think about Bali island, their mind goes straight to the crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches, after all, that is what you see in the media. What isnít as publicised is that in the centre of Bali lies a land beyond dreams. Bali is filled with mountains that are fortified with terraced rice paddy fields and three lakes that form a mystic aura, one of which fills up a volcanic crater. As a photographer this part of Bali is a gold mine.
The main locations to visit in this area are Jatiluwih and Lake Bratan, both of which are located within 1 hour of each other. These are ideal locations for some exploring and relaxing, with some of the best yoga events, classes and retreats on the planet. Spent a moment or two meditating while overlooking the serene atmosphere of the terraced rice paddies after which you can let your adventurous streak run wild, exploring the valleys and mountains that make Bali so scenic. A trip to the centre will leave you with a better understanding of your inner self as well as the way of life in the villages spread along this lush areas and needless to say, the views are breathtaking!
The best way to really explore there, in my opinion is to rent a small jeep. A bike would be an alternative, though some areas in this region are difficult to navigate, so only consider this option if you are a seasoned biker. Car and bike rental offices can be found all over the south of Bali such as Kuta and Denpasar, all of which will allow you to travel around the whole of Bali but not to the other islands Having your own wheels will allow you to explore the small vilages of Jatiluwih and feel the authenticity of Indonesian life in the company of its inhabitants.
Almost 85% of the population are devout Hindu followers and there is evidence of this religion everywhere. In every village, with great temples at all the important locations on the island. Jatiluwih is home to three of these temples, two of which are amongst the most magnificent I have ever had the pleasure of walking through.
The smaller temples can be found on the slopes of Kebun Raya, where the views are simply stunning. Just being in this incredible place makes me wonder how worshippers could concentrate on the religious ceremonies whilst surrounded. Worshippers would have to climb the mountain on foot to reach this temple to attend the many religious ceremonies that are held throughout the year. The other smaller temple is located down in the foothills of the mountain and are home to a maze of terraced praying courts, surrounded by the rice paddy fields and the mountainous terrain. The incredible scenery, the lush green surroundings and the climate in this region contribute to a feeling of being on an Indiana Jones film set.
The most majestic of the three temples of central Bali has to be Ulun Danu. Found on the edge of Lake Bratan, a volcanic crater lake, this temple is built in a perfect position to welcome and bid farewell to the sun on everyday. The place is magical, made more so by the misty cloud that enshrouds the temple throughout most of the day and the perfect stillness of the sunrise, the waters of the lake are flat as glass. The most important events on the religious calendar are held at Ulun Danu, attracting both locals and tourists alike.
The lake is surrounded by the craters rim and has some insane views if you are willing to challenge the dense jungle growth and hack your way to the craterís surface.Accommodation here is best either on the lakes edge or in the botanical gardens that overlook the crater. These gardens are well taken care of and boast a variety of flora and scenic paths.
As for Jatiluwih itself, I would highly recommend staying in the rooms of one of the few hotels that are found on the highest point of the rice paddy fields. There is no better feeling than watcching the sun rise over the rice paddies and breathing in the fresh morning air. It doesnít get any better anywhere on island. Wherever you stay in Jatiluwih or Lake Bratan, you'll be well taken care of, and most places will offer tips on scenic routes, offer yoga or massages.
The central part of Bali is not really promoted outside of Asia, therefore it offers a much deeper understanding of island life and perfect for holiday makers wanting to develop a deeper understanding on the province of Bali island and its culture.
How to get there
Emirates offer regular flights to Bali with a stopover in Dubai. Flights departing from Malta on 9/2 and returning on 23/2 were priced at 1,133 Euro, including tax, at the time of going to print. Total flying time is approximately 20 hours.
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