Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Singaraja in north of Bali is one of the areas on the island that I’ve seldom visited. So when Pop! Hotel invited us to attend their launch of new branch in Singaraja, we quickly accepted. All fares were paid for, and we wanted to know what’s there.
Singaraja used to be the most important city of Bali and the Lesser Sunda Islands in the Dutch colonial era. It is now the second largest town in Bali after Denpasar, but doesn’t seem to offer much for tourists. With Bali having the airport in the south, about 3-4 hours drive to Singaraja, the town needs more effort to grab more visitors.
Having said that, there are, actually, a few interesting things you can do in Singaraja and around:
Very early in the morning, about 6 a.m. (which should’ve been 5 a.m.), we went out to the sea on small boats to see dolphins. We departed from the beach right by the hotel, eastward to the Lovina part of the beach, which has been known for the dolphins for years (perhaps decades). After 20-30 minutes boat ride, we arrived at a point of the sea where many other tourist boats have been standing by.
I was afraid that our presence was scaring the smiling mammals, but it seemed the opposite. The dolphins, big and small, were jumping out of the water to inhale some oxygen. Some kid dolphins were swimming beside their (supposedly) moms and twirling so attractively while they were jumping in and out of the water. It seemed as if they were happy to show off their acrobatic skill!
Before I accepted the invitation from Pop! Hotel, they’ve confirmed that we were going to be watching the free dolphins, not the ones captured as show dolphins, and that was the deal maker for us. We’re no fans of captured dolphins for show. There are indications that captured dolphins are results from dolphin harvest and in the long run would damage the ecosystem.
But then again, I need to look up more about dolphins’ jumping habit and the tourism effect on the dolphin population in Lovina.
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30 minute drive eastward from Pop! Hotel, was the BT Cocoa factory and museum. We were taken to their ‘cutting farm’, where they showed us how they cultivate cocoa. The seeds and the cuttings were then planted somewhere else (I forgot where) and then the cocoa was processed to be chocolate products in their factories in Tangerang, Banten.
Across the street from the mini farm was their complex of museum, shop and restaurant. Some staff welcomed us with brownies and chocolate drinks as testers. I loved the brownies, it has the right crunchiness and sweetness to my liking. I ended up buying a small box of brownies to bring home.
Their other products were cocoa powder, which can be used for cooking and/or drinking, cocoa liquor, which is only to be exported, and cocoa butter, which can be applied as body butter and for cooking! I had been using Body Shop’s cocoa body butter for quite some time and thought about buying BT’s, but I didn’t because the cocoa butter was only available in 1 kg package and the tester wasn’t provided.
The museum was quite interesting. A staff guided us through the displays of paintings, pop quizzes and examples of their cocoa seeds and processed products that explained the history of chocolate and the making process. Did you know that cocoa was at first served as the royal drink for the Mayans?
Find out more about BT Cocoa here.
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While waiting for the launching ceremony to start, we hung around the swimming pool area by the beach walk. It was almost twilight, just in time to take pictures of sunset. Everybody loves sunset view, right?
Some locals were fishing or just sitting on the wave breaker near the hotel. The statue that symbolized the old port appeared as silhouette, adding to its dramatic look while still appeared heroic.
Compared to the sunset experiences I’ve had in the south Bali, the view is not really much different, if not less beautiful than the ones, for example, viewed from Jimbaran. But since there weren’t that many people and mostly were locals, I felt the ambiance was more sincere and relaxing, somehow. Or maybe it’s just me.
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What else can one do in Singaraja and around? If you’ve been there, maybe you can give us a recommendation in the comment below.
Meanwhile, we do have a recommendation on where to stay.
Pop! Hotel Hardy’s Singaraja Square is said to be the first modern hotel in Singaraja and around. Occupying the location of what used to be a non-operating movie theater, the 2-star hotel keeps their budget and green concept. They’ve spent big amount of money to purchase a garbage truck and clean up the beach by the hotel. More will be spent to hold a clean up at the estuary at the other side of the hotel. At the time of my stay, the estuary really looks like it needs to be cleaned up from those modern life garbage.
If you’ve stayed at their other branches, you’ll feel totally familiar with the ambiance and design of this one. The gray building with colorful windows and doors. The hotel’s rooms are dispersed in 6 floors, half of which are with windows facing the swimming pool and the ocean. Though the beach is with dark-colored sand, it is relaxing to view the ocean horizon from the bedroom.
During my 2D1N stay, the wi-fi connection worked well in the bedroom and all the hotel area. Breakfast was bubur sumsum (coconut milk with rice custard) and banana leave-wrapped rice with condiments, served in the dining area, indoor and outdoor.
You might wonder, ‘If Singaraja is not so much a touristy town, then why do they build the hotel there?’
Well, there have been some accommodation demands for business trips, family visit to students (Singaraja is said to have a good reputation for the schools nationally), and those who travel by land and sea from Java Island (east to Bali).
You could hire a car from the Ngurah Rai International Airport, spend about 3-4 hours through scenic road passing the Bedugul Lake.
If you’re crossing from Java, I heard that there’s no really reliable bus service to get to Singaraja, but you could look for car rental.
Perama shuttle bus serves Lovina route to and from several places in Bali including Kuta, Padang Bai, Ubud, and more. Singaraja is only about 5-15 km away from Lovina, and I guess hiring a car or a motorbike would be the most convenient way to transfer there. Check Perama’s website for the fare updates.
The room rate at Pop! Hotel Hardys Singaraja Square is currently IDR 368,000 / night.
For more information, head to their official website.POP! Hotel Hardys Singaraja Square Jl. Surapati No. 122, Singaraja Tel : +62 362 330 1500 Fax : +62 362 330 1511 Email : email@example.com