…….The World Without Boundaries

Going Off the Beaten Track in Bali

Written By: jipp - May• 28•11

WE were half-way through our second day in Bali and we had covered Monkey Forest, Ubud Market and a visit to the famous Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka without actually tasting the Babi Guling.  So, after a very fulfilling lunch at a tepi jalan restaurant on the outskirt of Ubud, we continued riding without any specific destination in our heads.

Due to topographical settings of Ubud, you wouldn’t find any map that precisely describes Ubud in real. Even with a map in your head, you’d still find yourself lost in the complexity of its road network here (especially around Ubud area). It is the kind of places that you’d think you’ve strayed too far off only to find out you are actually tagging along behind your own tail.

Referring to the map every now and then appeared to be puzzling and delaying us more so we decided to toss it in the trash and put our trust wholly in our sense of direction to lead the way for us.

And that was the real fun began. Riding without any map in our hands was certainly the best decision we’ve ever made. We would ask for directions from the people at times and one of the best things about people in Bali is their readiness in facilitating us with directions the best they can.  Some of them would even give us  one of those friendly ‘hati hati ya!’ advices.  I was really impressed by the kindness of Balinese people in the countryside.

Somewhere along the way, there was one place that suddenly came into my mind.  I remembered reading from somewhere about a place called Tampak Siring. I couldn’t really remember what there was to see there but the name of the place had sparked some special interest and curiosity in me. 

If you are a Sabahan like me, you should know that Siring means ‘Edge’ in our language, probably the edge of a cliff or something. I was not sure if it bore the same meaning in Balinese language though. Tampak means something like ‘View’ or ‘See’ so Tampak Siring, in my imagination was the view of the edge of a cliff. 

Teaser.. 😛

So, Tampak Siring was the place that we were heading to without really aiming to get there. We’d stop whenever we feel like stopping and peek into people houses and yards. 😀

Riding past and across one village after another, we’ve come to realize that there are more temples than houses in Bali. But then, we can’t really tell the difference because what seems to be a house might be a temple and what appeared like a house is probably a temple. Even house is called Pura in Balinese and temple is Puri.

There really were a lot of things to see along the way to Tampak Siring. The countryside was so visually captivating I was having some hard time focusing on my riding. I usually hate nagging people, but it was one of those times when I wanted Ulai to keep talking so that I wouldn’t get too carried away by the beauty of the surrounding. LOL.

Bali is never short of places to stop by for a refreshment. You can always find somewhere to get something to eat or drink for your stomach and beautiful scenery for your eyes and minds.

Almost quite on an impulse, we stopped at a hillside restaurant where we received the warmest welcome ever from the staff there. In fact a little bit too warm we actually found it quite awkward considering the very small order that we made.  Heh.

Even a small plate of pisang goreng that we ordered – something that Ulai had been craving for for unknown reason ever since we landed in Bali the day before; it did little to save our sorry faces.

I think we both agreed that there is something about pisang goreng in Bali that ours here in Malaysia are quite lack of. I don’t know what it was but the taste is something that would stick in your mouth and your head for quite a long while. There’s a milky taste in it, infectiously sweet perhaps, it melts in your mouth like cotton candy or something. It’s not oily (despite the oily look) like most pisang goreng that we buy at our pasar malams (night market) here in KL.

Finally saying good bye to the super-friendly staffs at the restaurant, we continued wheeling off towards Tampak Siring and that was when we saw something that made me sub-consciously press the brakes down and brought the bike to an immediate halt. My jaw just dropped when I saw this.

There was something so eerie about these ‘overly expressive’ statues as if they were meant to scare you for whatever reason.  The existence of the statues in the middle of nowhere, almost left abandoned and untended was already a mystery to me.

It was something that you wouldn’t stand looking at for too long or you’d get chills running down your spines. It was scary, strangely intimidating, mysterious and visually sickening I could feel my stomach tighten as I forced myself to look at it for quite awhile.

Ulai herself seemed to be just as disturbed as I was (or probably more) she actually fell silent and it scared me even more. She wouldn’t mumble a word as she continued staring at the statues. I had to call out to her every now and then just to make sure she wouldn’t get too carried away.

Being overly chatty at times, it scared me when she suddenly stopped saying anything. (Up until now, I still don’t know what actually happened to her or what got into her when we stopped at the statue. She wouldn’t even want to talk about it).

On to this less-known town of Tampak Siring, the sky was darkening when we finally got there. Most of the shops were already closed and even the Tampak Siring Palace had closed its gate to visitors.

So – we continued our journey, aiming to get back to Ubud before it gets too dark.

I’ve never seen so many wall fences in my entire life.

Every village in Bali seems to be walled up creating such a great and picturesque sight to be framed down in pictures.

It was amazing. It was obvious that we were really going wayyyy off the beaten track when people seemed to look at us as if we were some kind of alien or something.

Seriously, the attention that we were getting was quite unexpected. People would stop doing whatever they were doing and look at us with sparkling curiosity. The way they look at us was a quite scary, a bit intimidating and even distracting a little but we learned to be OK with it as we rode on.

There was one time when somebody who was riding a bike slowed down his bike and looked at us. He actually stopped his bike further down the road and waited for us to ride past him again so that he could take a better look. It was funny and scary at the same time. 😀

I suggested it was probably Ulai’s weirdly colored hair but she shot back saying her hair was covered by the helmet and she actually had a point. Of course I knew for sure it was her overly exposed thighs 😀

The road back to Ubud had not been as easy as I had expected it to be. In fact, my rusty and long-unpolished riding skills were tested to the fullest when I had to ride down a hill at times – sometimes a bit too steep it took a great hell of courage and guts to do.

To tell the truth, I was still a bit traumatized with what happened to me in Phuket when the motorbike that I was riding on suddenly skidded off the road, throwing me and my travel buddy into the roadside ditch. Although the injuries were minor, the trauma had stayed in me for quite a long long time.

I can never explain how beautiful the countryside of Bali is. You gotta go there to experience it yourself. And good thing about riding a bike is that you can always stop whenever you want to capture the beauty on camera.

This place reminded me of the place where the bicycle-riding Elizabeth Gilbert (of course, played by Julia Roberts) collided – oh well, almost collided with the jeep-riding and Felipe (Javier Bardem) in Eat Pray Love. That was when everything began between them two. ^_^

OK, you can say whatever to that. 😛  So, after such a long and winding journey, we finally managed to get back into the right track back to Ubud. Things seem to fall into places right then and just so happened we rode past Tagalalang, another place of interest in Bali and is famous for its beautiful terraced paddy field.

Oh well, it would have been such a big wow to me if I’ve never been to this place called Sapa before. The beauty of the sweeping valley of Sapa with its majestic paddy terraces was stuck so much in my head that the ones that they have in Tegalalang looked more like a tiny fraction.

Still, it was beautiful there. It wasn’t bad at all. But the paddy terraces in Sapa could be seen as far as your eyes could see. This one here in Tagalalang is like, OK only laa. 😛

Mind to tell you that this place is full of vendors. They can be very persistent in getting you to buy their stuff they wouldn’t leave you alone until you bought at least something from them.

A lady vendor was so adamant in selling us bananas – it actually annoyed me after awhile. I angrily pushed 1000 rupiah so that she’d go away. I ‘downed’ on the bananas almost out of protest.  Thinking back now, 1000 rupiah is only 35 cents in RMs.  How cheap can bananas be here in Malaysia? I feel so guilty to her now. o.O

It was quite late in the evening when we got there so an idea of coming back there at the break of dawn suddenly flicked on in me. It would be cool to watch it when the mist was still hovering over the paddy field in the early morning.

WE returned to the comfort of Jati Homestay & Gallery with big smiles on our faces. It was another great day in Bali. Things were going so well for us. 🙂

We intended to discover more of Bali countryside on the next day.

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  1. ken says:

    the statues, couldnt they do a sexier version?
    no one likes to see pointy boobs and long ugly tongues!

    bananas just at 35cents, well that’s really cheap.. i’d also feel sorry for her 🙂

    but yeah, nice exploration – new insights for us.. hehe.. no corruption story this time ya? 😛

  2. […] to Tegalalang alone, every shop seems to offer something different.Still in the mood for another ‘off the beaten track’ adventure, we actually rode past the paddy terraces in Tegalalang and after venturing into a series of […]

  3. […] the monkeys in Monkey Forest and shopping a bit at the Ubud Market on our second day, then going off the beaten track by riding aimlessly in the countryside of Ubud on our third day,  then joy-riding our way to the beautiful terraced paddy field in Tegalalang and […]

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  9. […] the direction of the peak – expecting that we’d manage to find the trail anyhow.I think we went off the beaten track quite too soon. There seemed to be no apparent trail expect for the ones left by wild boars. They […]

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  13. gloriousforest says:

    i’m pretty sure the “statue” you saw was an ogoh-ogoh. they’re monsters prepared ahead of nyepi and then taken into the streets the night before with ceremony, shouting etc to draw bad spirits into them. that’s why they’re scary looking!

  14. jipp says:

    oh wow. thank you for that explanation. I’ve been really curious what they were or rather what they were for. They really were scary. At least my curiosity has been answered a year after the trip. 🙂

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