Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 23 April 2011 • Itinerary
Traveled in February, 2011
After a night in Kuta and a few days of getting my jobs done here and there around Bali (busy bee is buzzing!) while still having a fabulous time, it was finally time for a pure holiday in Candidasa, eastern Bali, far from being loud and crowded. Well-known and less famous attractions like temples, gardens, and beaches awaited my visit! Yay!
It stretches out from the Rama Lodge point eastward, and a some part of it being in the back of where I was staying, the Puri Pandan Hotel (more about it under “Sleep”). I tried to snorkel there, saw nothing but sand under the water. It was a nice ‘bath’ though, and was also nice to chat with other tourists while bobbing up and down with the slight waves.
Later I found out, you’d need to take a boat ride to the snorkeling / diving spots,costing about IDR 300,000 / boat. I decided not to do it for the economic reason, but I was happy anyways just laying low at the beach and the hotel. Hm, does that mean I’m getting old..?
We asked what readers wanted us to check out for them in Bali on Twitter and a girl replied “Blue Lagoon”. I checked it out on a map and found that it’s actually very near to Candidasa, an area that I was curious about. Perfect! The Universe was working for me! Muhahaha..
Blue Lagoon was located west to Candidasa beach, near the Padang Bai beach / port. There was also a Bloo Lagoon resort nearby, don’t get mixed up, mind the spelling.
The Blue Lagoon beach was hidden – I guess just like any lagoon would be – behind and under the woods that we entered through many bends from…err.. know what? I can’t recall. But don’t worry, along the main road you’ll see signs of how to get there. And then walk down the stone stairs, you’ll pass a lodge and voila, a stunning turquoise greenish blue water bowl with a narrow beach.
People were tanning, swimming, and TRYING to snorkel. But the waves were too big that day, I got tossed over and over to the beach and it was so hard just to slip in my fins in the water. I gave up on snorkeling and swimming, and decided to just lie on my towel next to other visitors who were mostly Caucasians.
The ambiance wasn’t as nice as the water, though. There were too many people, them being tourists and local people just hanging around and attending their snorkel gears rentals etc. And at a corner on the beach, in between some rocks next to my towel, turned out to be a small collection of smelly garbage. When I realized that, I looked for another space, but there wasn’t any left. And so I decided to just get outta there. What a pitty, huh? I’m not sure if I should RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON next time I’m in Bali.
On the last day of my Bali travel, Pasir Putih beach was one of the spots I popped in. It was eastward and about 20 minutes drive from Candidasa.
Now, “Pasir Putih” literally means “white sand”. And the beach was named after its sand that used to be white, they said. That’s why it’s also called Virgin Beach, y’know, uncontaminated. But what I saw then was brownish/grayish sand on the whole beach, no trace of white sand at all. But it wasn’t bad. The beach stretched quite long and the sand’s texture was quite smooth, it was nice to walk along it.
Rows of beach chairs were provided, and you can sit there for free if you order something from any of the restaurants or warungs.
It’s said that you could snorkel there, but I was advised to wait until afternoon when the water would get quieter. Oh shucks, I couldn’t wait that long. I still had more places to visit before my flight back to Jakarta that night.
However, it was a lovely 1-2 hours of relaxation. So relaxed, I even got nice enough to buy a necklace that I didn’t need from a souvenir seller. Anybody want a giveaway?
Goa = cave, Lawah = bat in Balinese. Literally, the cave was swarmed with bats, thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of them! (Um, I didn’t really have time to count them for real..) But the bats were most of the time just hanging down on the cave’s ceiling (is that what you call it?), making noise and smelling weird.
Underneath the cave’s entrance was the altar for praying. No body is allowed to go inside the cave or go to the altar except the high priests and appointed caretakers. It’s a pretty sacred place, that cave and altar.
Around the cave there were a couple of pura or temples, symbolizing Vishnu, Syiva, and Brahma, with the Syiva temple being the biggest one.
Entrance fee = IDR 9,000. Guide fee = IDR 20,000, optional. Entering the area you’ll be lent a yellow scarf that has to be worn as a belt.
This whole temple was built in 11th century by a king from Airlangga Kingdom, who used to meditate in the cave. Pak Nengah, my guide, told me quite a lot about this cave, temples, and some philosophical stuff on life. I’ll blog about it sometime later just to share what he said to me, pretty eye-opening. A thought of converting to Hinduism even flashed in my mind!
“Taman Ujung” literally means “A Garden at the Edge” or “A Garden at the End”. It is located on the very east tip of Bali, you can even see Lombok island and the Rinjani mountain vaguely from this place in good weather.
It was built looooong time ago (early 20th century or very late in 19th century) by the Karangasem king named A.A. Gde Djelantik (Bali used to have small kingdoms within the island). Then it got destroyed by the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 and an earthquake in 1976. And then the whole garden was renovated with the fund from World Bank and was officially done in 2004.
I found this complex of buildings and pools breathtaking, it was like a picture perfect, like a painting of the common ideal beauty, y’ know. It was vast, beautiful, very well taken care of, and.. well, just stunning!
If I’m not mistaken, I think the entrance fee for me, an Indonesian, was IDR 5,000 but it would be something like IDR 20,000 / person or so for you foreigners.
My advice, if you go there in a sunny day, bring your sunglasses, drinking water, hat, and don’t forget to apply sun lotion (or maybe sun tan lotion?). I’m not sure if they provide tour guides, but if they did, I’d recommend you hire one, so you’d know more about what you’re seeing, instead of just looking at the pretty sights. I’m sure the whole complex holds a lot of cultural and historical stories.
When I heard the name “Candidasa” at first I thought it was a temple, what with ‘candi’ literally means temple. Turns out, it’s a seaside town in eastern Bali. It’s said that it was actually named after an old temple on the nearby hillside, Candidasa. But what got the area famous are actually the beaches, historical gardens, and other temples.
It’s located on the left side of Candidasa road if you’re facing east, only about 20 meters from Puri Pandan which is on the opposite side of the road.
There were actually lots of restaurants alongside the road, but Candidasa Café was the only restaurant where I had a meal other than the one in Puri Pandan. And I chose it randomly.. Well not exactly, I also chose it because it looked nice * grin * me and my visual need *
They served Indonesian and international kinds of food. I had a portion of rice and tofu soup of some kind, plus a sweet iced tea, totaling IDR 50,000. They also have alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages with price range from IDR 27,000 – 65,000 a glass.
The service was good, friendly staff and everything. And then it was drizzling when I was going to go back to my hotel. I asked if I could borrow an umbrella cos I hate getting wet unless I’m in a pool or the ocean. Then the waiter said he could just take me to my hotel. I thought, oh okay, cool, so I wouldn’t have to go back there and return the umbrella later. But then he got out his motorbike. Turns out, he was giving me a ride back to Puri Pandan on a motorbike! I mean, Puri Pandan was like a stone throw away, and well, I still got a little wet from the drizzle on a motorbike.. hahahaaha..
One thing I learned from my 10 days stay in Bali was that Balinese either hate walking so much or they love riding motorbikes so much.It was confirmed by a friend of mine, Amel, who’s been living in Bali for about 2 years. You rarely see locals walk anywhere further than 10 meters distance..! I have no idea why, but it’s interesting to find out!
PURI PANDAN RESTAURANT & BAR
Most of the hotels’ restaurants were open for public, not only for those who stay at the hotel. And Puri Pandan’s bar & restaurant is quite a favorite in the vicinity since it’s located by the beach.
It was also the initial business of Puri Pandan before Mr. Titus, the local Chinese-descendant owner, developed it into a hotel.
I didn’t have many references of where to stay in Candidasa because I didn’t really look and plan ahead. So what I did was, I hired a car and the driver that picked me up from Kuta, took me to and around Ubud for the whole day, and then drove me eastward in the soaking rain and stopped to check a couple of hotels until I finally found Puri Pandan. It was within my budget, clean, felt homey, and the staff was helpful and friendly.
Plus, the restaurant was located in the back, by the beach, unlike many other hotels in the area that had the restaurants by the road. I mean, what would you prefer? Having meals with beach view or cars passing by? I know, right? (more about the restaurant under “Eat”)
The room rate was actually IDR 250,000 / room with fan / night. But they were kind enough to give me a discount to IDR 200,000 / night because I was alone and, well, probably because I’m Indonesian. (Please don’t take it as any form of racism, it’s just that we encourage our own people to see more of our own country. Plus… we’re poorer in general! Hehe..) Rooms with AC were also available, but of course a little bit more pricey.
I liked the design, and though the toilet was so decades ago style-wise, it functioned as it should. And there’s a small garden at the end of the spacious bathroom with no roof, sort of reminded me of the house where I grew up.
There was no phone or intercom in the room. So if you need to ask for something, you just gotta look for the staff in the restaurant or reception, or wait until someone walks pass by your bungalow.
Out of the 2 nights staying there, these were my highlight moments:
– enjoying the remarkable view of just-risen-sun from a gazebo out on a stone bank by the beach <– I actually made up the term ‘stone bank’, you can see what it really is in the picture
– swimming and relaxing on the beach for hours. Oh, sublime! (more about the beach under ‘Venture’)
– having good meals and chilling out in the restaurant with ocean view, waves and lounge music as the backsound. Boring? Nope, refreshing!
– Taking a nap on the porch of my bungalow when it rained pretty hard and I couldn’t go anywhere. Life is good!
As you’ve probably read in our previous post (link), I find solo traveling can be pricey when it comes to transportation. I had to share the rental fee only with me and myself, which in this Candidasa case, I spent IDR 500,000 (car+driver+gas) for a whole day, taking me to the beaches, Goa Lawah, Taman Ujung, and the I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Tuban, southern Bali.
I’m sorry to say that foreign tourists are charged more, perhaps even double the local price. But I do recommend the guy that I hired, Made Widia, cos he drove well, understands and speaks English quite well, and the car was in good condition too. You can contact his mobile at +62 815 570 5019. There’s a website address on his business card, www.transport-bali.com , but it’s non-active when I tried to check it out.
I met Pak Made Widia at the Pandan restaurant when he just dropped a guest and was hanging out with a Danish man who’s lived years in Candidasa. If he’s not available, you could ask the hotel staff for a car/driver recommendation.Do haggle if you feel the price is too much, it’s okay.
Two shops away from Puri Pandan there’s a craft and gift shop that rents out bicycles for IDR 30,000 / day. Sorry I forgot the name of the shop.