Beaches and Mountains of Bali - Part 3

The two days we spend at Mara River Safari Lodge was exceptional. If you have not yet read our first two blogs in this series, please go ahead and catch up.

All three of us were a bit sad to vacate from this beautiful place and also we did not get time to explore the place in totality. So after a scrumptious breakfast with the royal family of the jungle (the lions and lionesses), we were all packed up and ready to leave. At the lobby of Mara, they also have a souvenir shop with loads of soft toys for kids. Zavi got a small set of snakes, which I found utterly disgusting. He is a bit of animal figurine collector and he always wanted to get snakes but I kept refusing. But this time around I had no choice but to give in. After all it’s also a memory of this amazing place.

A journey to a hill station

We had an almost 2 hours of journey to our next destination. We went uphill and the scenic beauty reminded me very much of my native place, Kerala in India. Our first stop was Handara Gate. This was a pure photo stop. We could buy tickets and wait in a queue for the opportunity to get our pictures clicked. We stood in the queue and tried to learn as many poses as we could, but finally when it was our turn, we resorted to our usual holding hands pose. The Handara Gate is actually a gate of a Golf Resort. The speciality of this place is that, when you look from far it looks like the gate leads you to heaven. The beauty of this place is such. There was a cool breeze and the weather was pleasant.

After our photo spot stop we set off for Ulundanu Beratan Temple and Lake Beratan. Now this place was a tourist hotspot, much like Ulluwatu Temple. Mr. Ari got us our tickets and all of us entered the premises. As I entered the place, I just realised why this place was swarming with tourists, both domestic and international. The temple premises had well kept beautiful gardens, a very well kept park, the temple premises, there were some water activities like speed boat rides also happening on the lake and a couple of restaurants. So this place was like a complete package. Right after we entered the premises, Zavi rushed to the children’s park. I noticed that in spite of being a public space, all the equipments were very well maintained and very clean. Zavi played around for some time and then we proceeded towards the temple premises. Here again, we are not allowed inside the temple, but we can walk just outside and click photos. The main temple complex is situated right on the lake and it is a sight to behold. It started to drizzle slightly so Laya and Zavi went on inside a waiting area kind of place. In the meantime, I decided to walk the length of the place. The temple was mesmerisingly beautiful from all the different angles and this place was certainly a photographers’ heaven. There were a couple of people who came with professional photographers to take pictures with this breathtaking background. We could also rent traditional Balinese costumes here and take pictures. There were even photographers who would take pictures in your mobile and give you the pictures instantly for a fee. The view of Lake Beratan with the mountains in the backdrop was ethereal. There were a lot of people enjoying boat rides also in the lake. As it was lunch time, we picked up a spot at one of the restaurants and placed our orders. Zavi went on to play at the park. We noticed that food here was pretty much on the cheaper side. So we were a little apprehensive whether it would be good. But to our huge relief, the food here was good like all the other places we had eaten at Bali. After lunch, we headed back to our vehicle.

The waterfalls

We slowly started descending the hills and our destination was going to be Grand Mirage, our last hotel in our trip. Grand Mirage was almost a three hours drive and on the way we decided to take a stop at Tegenungan Waterfalls. The Tegenungan Waterfalls is another tourist hotspot. We entered after showing our tickets at the ticket counter and started making our way towards the falls. There were many shops here as well selling a lot of souvenirs and swimming costumes along the way. Our first stop was a viewing point. From this view point, we can see the beautiful Tegenungan Waterfalls from a distance and take pictures as well. Here again there was a nest set up for people to take photos sitting in the nest with the waterfalls in the background. Laya quickly climbed up to the nest and we took some snaps. As we looked, we saw that there were way too many flights of stairs going steeply downwards. We thought whether go down to the falls or not, but by this time Zavi had started going down. So we followed. Going downstairs itself was a task as the stairs were too steep. We reached down pretty fast. We noticed that there was a hotel or a club down there, which even had an infinity pool overlooking the waterfalls. We proceeded down to the foot of the waterfalls. Here there was first an enclosure , where a lot of people were bathing and just casually spending time with kids in water. We did not want to get into water as the place was too crowded. We just stood at a reasonable distance from the falls and took some pictures and then started our ascend. Going up was extremely hard. We were totally out of breath and were too tired. Thankfully there were places in between where one could rest. We sat out at one place. But here again Zavi was going too fast for us to catch up with him. In the end, I had to reprimand him for not waiting and taking off on his own in such a crowded area. The whole experience was just average. I really think we should have chosen to see another not so crowded waterfalls. Anyways not regretting any of our choices, we made our way back to our vehicle. Our guide, Mr. Ari then drove us to our last hotel, Grand Mirage.

Hotel Grand Mirage

We arrived at Hotel Grand Mirage pretty late in the evening. Hotel Grand Mirage was literally grand. There was a man made waterfall set up right in the middle of the lobby. The waterfalls was like almost as tall as a three storied building. As we checked in, they served us a cool and refreshing drink and there was also a nice cool breeze. The check in process was completed swiftly and we were guided to our room. Our deluxe room at Hotel Grand Mirage was really big and overlooked a swimming pool and the sea beyond. We settled in and started checking out the amenities at this hotel. We just realised that there were too many fun activities for kids at this hotel. The next day was going to be our last day at Bali and we had planned to visit Ubud Monkey Forest, Ubud Palace and Market. But for this we had to travel almost two hours so we decided to spend the next day trying out beach activities, shopping somewhere close by and then explore the hotel and it’s activities. After we freshened up, I just wanted to go to bed. But Zavi had other plans, he wanted to visit the kids’ play area. So finally Laya agreed to take him. But unfortunately, the play area was open only till 9pm and since it was late, they both got back to the room pretty quickly.

The days just flew past and it was our last full day at Bali. We started our day early on and we were in total relaxation mode. We went for the biggest breakfast spread I had ever seen. They had everything. They had a Chinese section, Indian section, Balinese section, Continental section, American section, an exclusive juices and chilled items section, a dessert section and even a dedicated kids’ section. After our extremely fulfilling breakfast, we decided to explore the hotel premises. We wanted to check out the kid’s play area first. We enquired with the staff and they told us it would be best to take a buggy. We boarded the buggy and took an amazing ride by the beach to the kids play area. Now this section was called the Family Paradise. We just realised how big this hotel was. As even here there were a multitude of rooms. What I loved here was that there was room for playing video games. Also here we could leave small kids in the care of nannies. Zavi settled in to play some games and although this place was a for kids, since there weren’t much kids at that point of time even I sunk into a bean bag and started playing ‘Need for Speed’. We spent some time here just chilling and relaxing. Here there was also a life sized snake and ladder, life sized chess board, a boxing ring and even a soft play area for kids. Each day there were special activities organised for kids. We learned from there that the activity for the day was a foam party. Zavi was very eager to go to the foam party. We had no clue what it was but decided to send him for the foam party at 4pm. There were also cycles kept there. Instead of taking the buggy, we can also cycle around. After spending about an hour playing, we decided to head back to our room and then go on for our activity of the day. Mr. Ari was right there to take us for our beach activities. We were not sure what we would be able to do with Zavi but we anyways went. Now this was not a part of our package and this was a sudden plan. Mr. Ari took us to beach sports centre which was swarming with people. We were welcomed and seated at a table. A person came to us and started discussing the different rides available like jet ski, banana boat, donut, parasailing, under water walk and the like but the price he was quoting was exorbitant. Thankfully we had checked online the day before and we were very sure that this price was too much. We haggled but he was not willing to bring down his prices much. So we informed Mr.Ari that we wanted to try some other place. Mr Ari then took us to the next place. Here thankfully, the prices were much more reasonable. We decided to try the banana boat alone as we were not sure whether Zavi could do the other activists. We were very excited since it was going to be Zavi’s first time trying out a water activity and Zavi was bubbling with excitement. Soon our banana boat was ready and we hopped on. The ride was for 15 minutes. The speed boat pulled us off to the sea. The adrenaline rush set in and our banana boat kept leaping up and down. The waves were also pretty rough so it felt like we were hitting onto the sea water. I sat in the front and Zavi sat in between us. I could hear Zavi and Laya screaming and I was also screaming and telling them to hold tight. At the end of our 15 minutes we were completely drenched and totally exhausted. Luckily we had carried spare clothes and there were bathrooms for showering and changing too. Our next and final stop at Bali was for doing some souvenir shopping. Although some markets were included in our itinerary, we ended skipping them and on the final day Laya found out this place called Krishna Oleh Oleh where one did not have to haggle with the vendors but still could get stuff at a very reasonable rate. After a quick shopping spree we were back at Grand Mirage. I was totally tired but Zavi wanted to attend the Foam Party organized for kids at Grand Mirage. Even I was curious on what a foam party would be. Kids were instructed to wear their swimming costumes. When we approached the area of the foam party there was loud music blasting and there two big foam machines spraying foam on all the kids. The kids as well as some adults were dancing around in the foam. Zavi also ran into the foam and started to jump up and down and dance around and he just had a blast. The foam party lasted for an hour. After this, Zavi just showered and then we made our way to the mini water park. Now this was totally fun. While I didn’t get into the water, Laya and Zavi went in and played in the different water slides and water buckets for more than an hour. Finally they came out of the water only when a staff member came and shut down the mini water park. We got back to our room, changed and then went out for dinner. I had found a nice restaurant very close to our hotel itself. We had a yummy Balinese dinner and our hearts were heavy thinking that this was going to be our last night at Bali.

Bali was an extremely beautiful place, where I think a tourist can easily spend two to three weeks exploring the places. There were too many popular tourist spots that we couldn’t cover like the rice terraces, the markets, the monkey forest and so many other places. Bali is one place that I would love to visit again.

If you have not yet read our first two blogs in this series, go ahead and read those.

if you have enjoyed the article, please subscribe & share it. Don't forget to follow us in twitterfacebook and instagram @rahul.devakumar (for portraits ), @streetstories.rahuldevakumar (for travel and street )

Rahul Devakumar
Creative Media Studio

We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.


Popular Posts