Skip to content

Bali – Northeast coast, time to relax

We discovered whilst in Indonesia, that it was very cheap to fly between islands and countries. Some airlines are cheaper than the EU low-cost options. Keen to see what Bali had to offer (many of our friends had been and all had only good things to say about the place) we set off for Denpasar. On landing, we realised we should move to quieter climes so we immediately went to Tulamben in the north east. It took over 4 hours to cross the island but as we were in the back of a shuttle service, it was pretty relaxed. We passed many wood shops where famous Balinese wood was being sold having been sculpted into beautiful pieces – some decorative and some unique furniture.

A vodka powered scooter


We also clocked shelves and shelves of Absolut bottles filled with an off-yellow liquid being sold. Curious as to why it was only Absolut which featured, we  soon spotted a bottle being poured into a scooter. Perhaps Absolut bottles are the thing to use for home- set petrol stations. Or maybe the scooters run on vodka power.  We hired a scooter to find out and to better visit the area. The Vario was a poor exchange for either of our bikes but it valiantly pulled us up the mountain side. Unless the going was steep at which point Alex got off to walk while Simon sped on ahead at 10mph.

Rice paddies of Bali

One of the many impressive trees


The landscape was breathtaking in the area- very fertile and the volcanoes provided a majestic backdrop. We sped past many rice paddies and crops of chili and onion as we toured the many sites. It was quite picturesque seeing people working in the paddies, tending their crop. We were there in the rainy season as we’d clearly missed the torrential downpours of Central America too much. The plus side being that the vegetation was springy and lush and the air was a little cooler than usual.

We rode up through small villages where people were drying rice on sheets in the sun. There were also small flat baskets of chilies being dried for cooking. One of the guys looking after the chilies said that they were extremely hot- particularly as they were dried. We opted not to try any as Alex had had a regrettable incident already in a restaurant in Jakarta where she thought she could handle the “extra spicy”  version on offer.

She couldn’t.

We rode southwards to see a complex of temples which feature Heavenly Gate. After navigating small winding roads and a small army of scooters, we came upon the beginning of the complex. The guide at the entrance explained that touring the whole thing would take 6 hours. We donned our sarongs and said we’d try our best to see it all.

Heavenly Gate approach


We walked the short way up the hill to the first temple- Heavenly Gate. We were immediately awed by these paired stone gateways which rose from a steep flight of stairs on top of a grassy hill. The view was even more impressive once we climbed through the gate. WE were faced with a triple stairway up to the temple proper and upon turning around, we were treated to a jaw dropping vista- the gate stood as before, except this time there was nothing beyond, only empty sky. It was truly a Heavenly Gate.


Heavenly Gate Temple

The other view!


















As usual in the area, rain came with a vengeance in the afternoon and chased us away from visiting the rest of the temples up the mountain. We rode back to Tulamben on our trusty scooter only to admire that the fuel gauge was still indicating random figures even after being used all day. Sure enough, no sooner was this reflection made that the scooter unceremoniously whined to a halt. This gave us a chance to buy a bottle of Absolut and pour it into the bike. Surprisingly, it worked and we made it back to our hotel.

Temple 4 at the top of the mountain

The next site to visit was Mount Batur which is another volcano (continuing with the volcano theme) and which has a popular lake at its base and is recognised as a special place in terms of global energy lines meeting there. It is understood in some circles to be linked to Lake Titicaca in Peru and to have a similar energy importance.

Lake Batur

We took 2 hours to ride up to almost the summit when it became clear that the Vario wasn’t the bike for the job. The road was getting steeper, narrower and more washed away with every turn! On the steep, straight inclines the bike would begin in earnest at its max speed of 15km/h and within metres slow to a crawl and whine. Alex opted to hop off the back and walk, leaving Simon to zip up on the bike alone. We were crawling past a makeshift house about 1km from the summit when a man popped out and said hi. Stopping to speak to him he said we’d never make it on our bike. Judging by our top speeds of almost-jog we had to agree. He offered to take Alex on the back of his 250cc and let Simon continue to the top on the scooter.

The road became just a muddy set of canyons and potholes so we were quite grateful to be going on two bikes! We walked up the mountain opposite Mount Batur to admire the lake but the clouds were rolling in fast, obscuring most of the view! With the clouds came the inevitable rain and our new fried urged us to come back to his home with him as it would be too dangerous to attempt the steep and winding road during the rain. We rode down in light rain but by the time we got to his house, it was a deluge! We sat in the front room- a covered patio area with a snooker table and a bench. Bought some water and prawn crackers from his small shop and waited over an hour for the rain to pass.

Simon getting ready for his dive!

Tired of the rain, we had heard that scuba diving was fun in the area- with coral reefs and a shipwreck to explore. It’s also quite inexpensive for a dive so we opted for the Liberty Shipwreck. It had been 5 years since either Alex or Simon dived so it was with great anticipation that we donned our suits and boots and walked to the beach.

We walked in through the beach rocks and put on our fins. Excited to be diving again we went through our safety checks and hand signals one last time.

We dived to 5m and practicised taking off our masks, losing our mouthpiece and finding it. Satisified we’d remembered enough, we set off to find Liberty.


An underwater explorer.

Rocking the scuba look











The shipwreck was quite impressive. A cargo ship belonging to the USA lost in WW2 thanks to a Japanese torpedo, it beached on northeast Bali. An eruption from the volcano nearby and subsequent lava flow pushed the wreck into the water at about 20m depth. It has since become a coral garden and been reclaimed by the sea. It was teeming with fish and although we didn’t see a shark, we did see a pretty big Bumhead Parrotfish. The dive was excellent and made us resolve to take it up again once back in Europe.

After our few days relaxing in the calm northeast, we thought it was time to move on- we headed for Ubud. Famed for its temples and scared monkey forest, we drove down to explore something new.


Leave a Comment

All content and images Copyright © 2016 Journey Limitless. Website designed by One Day Labs.