“He who has stopped travelling has stopped living.”
I guess that quote really stands up when it comes to exploring Bali. It is almost impossible to get bored and feel monotonous living in Bali. For the true explorers who are on the continuous quest for new discoveries, this island is an ideal place to satiate that hunger. Waterfalls, beach, crater lakes, paddy fields, vineyards, North Bali gives you no chance to complain. The lifestyle in the north is quite simple, so don’t expect smoothie bowls and sushi but local specialities and lots of nature. Being the greenest area of Bali, North Bali also provides a diverse set of tourist spots to explore.
Due to a large number of Western ex-pats and tourists, the Balinese culture on the island is lost here and there. However, that’s not the case in North Bali. The atmosphere here is warm, welcoming, relaxed and carefree. The people are warm. Because the Balinese culture is located even deeper here than in the south, there are several cultural things to take into account. Life is the way it is and you have to be able to improvise well. This is because there is no planning and people live here day by day. Problems are approached, viewed and solved differently. Not everything has to be solved by the minute and there is rarely a rush or stress.
During a conversation, the main goal is getting to know each other more often than discussing important matters. This overall culture is a little different from the Western one, but many people believe it has enormous benefits. Living in structured chaos with less workload, haste, directness and stress makes many people happier in a way and even more productive in the end. If you are of western origin, it is good to take into account that the locals find you a special appearance in the north and that you are looked at crazier compared to the south. However, this is a matter of getting used to and will not take long.
Via the narrow roads through mountains and villages, you reach beautiful natural beauty. The black beaches, rainforests and waterfalls are a feast for the eyes. Between the rice fields and greenery, impressive archaeological remains and temples with stone carvings can be admired. What dominates here is space and tranquillity. Wherever you go there are beaches and mountains to be admired almost everywhere. Nature clearly prevails here.
The cost of living in the North is much lower than living in the South. Just renting a house for a month costs around IDR 8 million. The food, a cleaner, the rental of a vehicle or the cost of a driver are almost outrageously low here. Locals eat red, yellow or white rice with vegetables and tempeh, tahu, fish, meat or egg three times a day. Expect a lot of Indonesian food here for little money at local warungs. There are local markets and groceries here and a few larger supermarkets for groceries so you can put together your own meals.
The infrastructure is not perfect here, so it is good to take this into account when driving, especially in the dark. At night, big trucks can also tear over these roads at high speed. As in many other places, it is also wise not to show all your money open. In general, the locals are very friendly and open, so there is no reason to worry about crime. In the field of health, there is a hospital in Singaraja and there are a few smaller private hospitals. For larger complaints or incidents, it is advisable to visit a hospital in the south.
For those who can’t resist going to the ocean, Lovina Beach is the only destination in North Bali. Characterised by calm waves and side-lined by coconut trees, it is visited by all those who crave relaxation. Lovina is sun-drenched, with patches of shade from palm trees. The tourist area stretches over 8 kilometres and consists of a string of coastal villages – Kaliasem, Kalibukbuk, Anturan and Tukad Mungga – collectively known as Lovina. A short drive from the black sand beach of Lovina, those who are keen on architecture can visit The Royal Palace of Singaraja, which depicts royal grandeur and majestic European buildings.
If you need to pacify your soul, Pura Ponjok Batu can be an alternative. Meaning Stone Cape, this ancient, spiritual place owes its uniqueness to a rock promontory, which from the crevices of rocks grows frangipani trees and shrubs that grows artistically. This Hindu temple is used for praying to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi. For Buddhists, praying at the Brahma Vihara Arama is a must. Located at Tegehe Village, this biggest Buddhist temple in Bali rises majestically overlooking Lovina Beach with a lush green hill as a background. Painted with colourful decorations, this place is also a perfect place for relaxation while admiring the beautiful buildings and surroundings.
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Soaking in the healing waters of a natural hot spring is the most effective way to relax in nature, and a quick visit to one of the island’s most popular hot springs can be a solution. Located in the Banjar Village, with lush, jungle-clad slopes surrounding the sacred area, Banjar Hot Spring consists of hot ponds filled with warm water. The sulphuric water, which is believed to cure skin diseases, spills from the mouths of some stone-carved mythical dragon into three pools at a tempting temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. The presence of brimstones in the water lends the healing property for various skin diseases, which explain why the place is known as the “Magical waters of Bali”.
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One of the most famous waterfalls of north Bali is Gitgit Waterfall. Located in the plateau area with a height of about 35 metres, the waterfall is surrounded by tropical trees with some plantations protecting the rainforest around it.
Who doesn’t like waterfalls? Water spilling over rocks from anything more than a few feet seems to enchant just about everyone. Waterfalls have long been synonymous with romance. From time to time, people have spent a great amount of time trying to capture the romantic essence of waterfalls. You probably have already heard about Gitgit Waterfall in Buleleng regency, the North of Bali. The sight of this tall, roaring waterfall can be overwhelming as you take in the gush of uninterrupted water pouring against the steep cascading rocks. Surrounded by tropical trees and a lush green environment, this natural beauty has its own charm to dazzle you! Just close your eyes for a moment, hear the wind that keeps blowing through the trees along with the sound of singing birds and hooting monkeys of the forest, feel the loved one sitting next to you. It is magical!
The forest lovers will be treated well at the Lemukih village, which lies on the northern slope of the island at an altitude of 638 metres above sea level. It is dotted by gorgeous rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations, making it ideal for those who want to stroll around and explore deeper into the Balinese lifestyle. Encircled by green forests and mountains, Lemukih provides a rather picturesque view. The dense tropical rainforests are a perfect spot for trekking. It is characterised by 3 beautiful, gushing waterfalls which start at different heights. The water is cool and clean and pours out from the greenery above. The pounding sound of water falling and splashing creates a much-desired tranquillity all around.
The wine lovers can enjoy North Bali by visiting the vineyard of Hatten Wines. Situated between the towns of Seririt and Pemuteran, this place offers a wine tasting and exploring experience. The Hatten Wines winery is a modern state of the art facility, bottling over 50000 bottles of wine each day. Like most places, Bali also has its own cultural drink called Tuak, universally known as palm wine. It is milky fermented alcohol made from the sap of palm trees. It has a sour taste and a strong burn as you swallow. It is available for purchase in some restaurants and shops and should be tried by every wine lover to know the rustic flavour of Bali.
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Untold Stories: Pandemic Survivors
There is a lot more to this island than most people are aware of. Sure, everyone is currently struggling through this pandemic and everyone in the hospitality is doing it more than tough, but there are still great stories to be told.
Lovina is so much more than, dolphins, waterfalls, hot springs and wonderful temples. There is a sense of community among the locals and ex-pats living there, unlike you would find in other places on this globe.
I have just arrived back from a trip to Lovina. During my stay in The Lovina Bali, I met these hotel owners, Leigh and Rob, who are losing money every month, yet have made it their mission to look after those who cannot look after themselves, in these trying times. Together with volunteers from their staff, they distribute food parcels to the old and frail, delivering directly to their homes. The smile on the faces of these old men and women is enough thanks.
I am also aware, that Leigh and Rob are not the only ones. Many charities in North Bali are doing their best to help the locals. Maybe that’s why everyone I saw or spoke to in Lovina seems quite satisfied with their lives and can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Unlike most of the hoteliers in Bali, these two Aussies have kept all their staff employed throughout the pandemic and have completely refurbished their beachfront Resort. They are 100% CHSE certified and ready to accept guests from all over the world.