Romantic Getaway in Bali
January 1, 1970
by Molokova Anastasia
Living in Bali for 5 years does not always mean you have seen an island far and wide. That little spot on the world map can actually take it as long as 6 hours to drive across. Getting bored with the daily routine pushes us to hire a car and go for a 3 hour drive to see one of the biggest waterfalls in Bali: Sekumpul. The word itself means “group” and the waterfall consists of 9 smaller waterfalls.
Part 1: Abandoned Hotel.
We started our adventure on the Saturday afternoon, planning our first stop in the abandoned hotel that is also believed to be haunted. It took us 2 hours, many beautiful breathtaking landscapes and GPS to find the place. Despite the fact that all reviews say it is very easy to find the hotel and that you cant miss it, we passed it twice and couldn’t locate it on the map; a little boy directed us without hesitation pointing the way to his left. We got to the hotel just after the sunset that was a good opportunity to test our nerves and to have the rush of adrenaline through our blood. The hotel is named “Taman Rekreasi” that means “recreational park” which sounds ironic since it is anything but that. Sadly the hotel has never welcomed its guests and it is now on the top of the list of the scariest places to visit in Bali. The construction was started by the son of the Indonesian president, Bapak Suharto, in 1993 and it was abandoned 9 years after due to unknown reason. Some people say that the owner got in trouble, ran out of money and was even put behind bars; others say that the construction was stopped because one morning all the staff mysteriously disappeared, since then the place is avoided by locals and ghosts of the staff are seen there from time to time. Nowadays the hotel is becoming a tourist attraction, especially popular for night trips and in fact it even got into some TV programs for its creepiness. The owner decided to finally sell the property for some crazy money but has not yet succeeded.
The entrance was chained so we parked the car and walked to the lobby. The hotel is actually well seen from the main road, it is huge and had been luxurious in the past. The lobby is spacious, with marble flooring and Balinese decorations; it brings us to the open terrace with a nice view of the mountain and rice fields. Big ballroom or restaurant, some office rooms with floor to ceiling windows, corridors with a lot of little bats flying towards us. We finally got into the guest’s room, that was not so big and apparently it was one of the standard rooms with the bathroom and a little balcony with a rice terrace view. The room was empty and the doors were missing, the electricity wires were set up already along with an electricity switch, there was a bathtub and toilet bowl set up in the bathroom already. We walked down to the dark corridor, but everything appeared quite scary in the darkness and we did not have a flashlight with us (we have used the light from the phone but it would not last long). We decided to leave and come back next day to explore more and to take some more photos of the spectacular views. Just as we were about to get into the car, a group of young looking tourists had arrived, thrilled for an adventure.
Part 2: Rest time
We drove uphill and arrived to our hotel “ Strawberry hill”. This area of Bali, Bedugul region, is well known for strawberry picking, they are grown everywhere here and are very cheap in comparison with the southern areas of island. The hotel is small, consists of little old fashion cottages in a green lush well-manicured garden with bright exotic flowers. The cottage inside was really small, resembling a hobbit house from The Lord of the Rings. The furniture was also very old and overall the place made us feel like if we travelled back in the past that one with a vivid imagination can enjoy. Outstanding part of the hotel was its restaurant with the bar that turned out to have an amazing view on the mountain landscape. The restaurant was made authentically vintage, you could easily imagine people eating there 50 years ago and absolutely nothing had changed in the interior design since then. The restaurant even had an old log fire for people to gather round to keep warm, as the temperature up there is much cooler in the evenings. It is an interesting place and we have never seen anything like that before. A big bathtub with hot water and bubbles was also what we needed in that cold weather there. After dinner, we decided to go for a campfire on the nearest lake. 15 minutes drive and we were on the spot, crowded with local youth, everyone playing guitar and singing. The sky shines with the bright stars, the campfire keeps us warm and the Champaign makes everything just a little bit more romantic.
Part 3: To waterfall!
Next day just before noon we were ready to go to the waterfall. The way is simple to follow but the road always dodges left and right, goes up and down. I would suggest preparing well to those who can get carsick, there are also no restaurants or shops on the way, so take your own water and snacks. Car parking is located 1,5 km away from the waterfall (or a bit more), snickers on and we are good to go. Walking down the path, enjoying the view we came down to crazy vertical slippery staircases that might make anyone feel a bit dizzy. It was the first time for me to see big tropical spiders, that were pretty much everywhere and I would not notice if my boyfriend did not kindly point them to me. So watch out! Once you manage all of the stairs and arrive at the stream below you are kindly welcomed by the Balinese rindik player, that is something unbelievable to see there, someone so devoted to the art that he makes all the way down to provide us with an authentic experience. There are also 2 kiosks selling snacks, water and instant noodles. From that spot we walked a bit longer, in the river and on the rocks. The water was cold but warmer than we had expected. The stones are slippery and the current is strong, so you better be careful. We passed 2 smaller waterfalls first, that looked big until you came to other 3 main waterfalls that are high and very powerful. The path was getting dangerously slippery and we have to take off our shoes to feel the stones. We came to the point where we have to cross the river, the flow of water is very strong and we cant see what is under the water surface so we use our basic instincts exploring the spot before stepping on it. Thinking about how much I do not want to get soaking wet, I let my boyfriend to go first and then I cross the river holding his supporting hand. Few more steps and an amazing view is coming to our sight: 3 big waterfalls with water rushing down, crashing on the stones below, the sound is deafening. The water drops fly with the strong airflow and it feels like a heavy rain. Well, at least I do not need to worry about getting wet anymore! It is believed that the most beautiful things are created by nature and these waterfalls in the lush tropical plantation are clear evidence to this. Human mind will never be able to create anything like this: people tend to create things in a well-ordered way, even if they want it to look chaotic, they will still place things in some kind of order. We tried to come as close to the waterfalls as possible so that we can “feel” them, but the airflow is too strong and we cannot stay there long enough. We are a bit overexcited but we have to go back as we still have more waterfalls to see. The way back is not easy, now that we are soaking wet, a bit tired and somehow a little bit overwhelmed with the beauty we keep slipping on the rocks. Luckily, neither of us gets injured. We made it back to the starting point and there are 2 different ways to go from there. We stopped confused, trying to choose a right direction. The rindik player points to his right and we just go that way hoping it is the right one since the man does not speak any English and thus we are unable to ask him anything. This time the way doesn’t take too long, just a couple of minutes and we see a pile of shoes left by other visitors and we hear water roaring whilst getting closer. Without any doubts we are leaving our shoes in that pile too and making our way. We see 2 more waterfalls; they are of a medium size, not as small as the first two waterfalls we have seen but also not as big as 3 previous ones. There is a small natural pool there and a mother bathing there with her 2 sons. Children are very excited about being in the water and you can see the pure happiness in their eyes. They jump, run and splash the water. This amusement makes me wanting to join them but the water is cold and I do not feel any warm in my wet clothes either. So I have to ignore my urge and pass them by. The rain starts. Not one of those city rains you can see in Europe or anywhere else but on equator: it is tropical merciless rain that floods the streets. We take few quick shots and we rush our way out. Back to the starting point and we begin to climb the thousands of stairs. The way back, under the rain is not easy but I imagine myself being in one of those survival TV reality shows when they test your abilities and your will and you just have to keep going to not be a loser. We got to the parking lot very tired and hungry. No shops around. We change our clothes and head back. The road veerers right and left, it goes up and down and makes me fill sick. Our stomachs are rumbling asking for food. We finally see a small local shop and we stop there hoping they have some fruit. They sell some vegetables, instant noodles, cookies, soda and bread. We were left without a healthy choice, so we got back to the car with 2 flavored bread buns, one of which turns out to be very old. About an hour later we finally reach Bedugul village. Our first stop is in a restaurant. There are not so many good places to eat in Bedugul so our hopes were rather low. However, the food came quickly and was tasty. We get full and happy and we continue our journey.
Next stop: local market. We go around seeing many exotic fruit and some of them we have never tried before. We got strawberries and we have discovered that passion fruit can be also white with yellow seeds inside (they normally sell yellow fruits with green seeds in the south part of Bali). Many sellers are eating different fruit and offering you to try. We found a fruit we have never seen before: it is green and soft, it looks like if it is wrapped in crocodile skin, white flash inside with long black seeds. Out of pure curiosity we have bought few to try for our journey home. With hands full of bags we are going back to the car to drive all the way to the south. Our short getaway is finished and we will have to wait for yet another weekend to go for another adventure in Bali!