The Balinese people believe that their beautiful island is a gift from the gods and for this they give thanks, every day, with millions of o erings in the form of tiny woven palm frond trays, lined with banana leaf and containing a symbolic assortment of rice, ower petals and incense. The o erings are known as ‘canang’, and the ower most commonly used and cultivated speci cally for this purpose, is the blue hydrangea.


Hydrangeas, or ‘pacah seribu’, are grown mainly in the mountainous regions of Bali. A visit, therefore, to the fertile volcanic ridge near Bedugul will reveal boundless fields of the sapphire-tinged flowers stretching in infinitely towards the shimmering sea - a locally nurtured crop that fulfills the demand of a sacred industry. A visit to this lovely part of the island will also reafirm why the Balinese express their gratitude with so much pride...


Set within the crater walls of an extinct volcano in Bali’s Tabanan Regency, is the small friendly market town and lakeside resort of Bedugul, heralded by a statue of a corn-on-the cob. Next to this giant sweetcorn is the access road to the Kebun Raya Eka Karya, the Bali Botanical Garden. A cool, shady park covering 157.5 hectares of tropical rainforest on the slopes of Gunung Pohon (tree mountain) with over 2000 species of plants, including 650 different species of tree and nearly 500 varieties of wild and cultivated orchids. The adjacent daily market, Bukit Mungsu, is busy, vibrant and colourful. Nowadays it is caters largely for visitors, selling handicrafts and souvenirs. But it also offers a tempting and diverse collection of locally grown fruit, vegetables, spices and plants, including orchids.


Indeed, Bedugul is a very well-known destination on the tourist map and lies alongside the shores of the picturesque, alpine reminiscent, Lake Bratan with its mystical temple that almost appears to float upon the water. You’ll find images of this temple, often shrouded in mist, on every postcard rack in Kuta. In contrast, the recreation park on the southern shores offers parasailing, speedboat rental, jet skiing and water skiing. There is also a spectacular golf course located in this area, the Bali Handara Kosaido Country Club, its entrance marked by a palatial split-gate. Voted one of the world’s fifty most beautiful golf courses, it is a masterpiece of natural splendour with a dramatic backdrop of towering mountains, pristine forest, and the calm waters of yet another lake. Yes, this is the Lake District of Bali, and it is the peaceful Lakes Buyan and Tamblingan, slightly off the beaten track and less frequently visited that present us with a real flavour of the undisturbed, rural Bali.


After passing through Bedugul, the main road climbs up a long, steep winding hill, over the north walls of the crater. Here you’ll see gregarious grey monkeys frolicking at the roadside. Turning west, away from the main road into the Buleleng Regency, towards Gobleg and Banyuatis, the scenic route follows the rim of the ancient caldera and overlooks the northern shores of the two adjoining lakes. This bountiful area is where you will find the blue hydrangea fields. It is also an abundant food forest yielding vanilla, banana, papaya, jackfruit, oranges, coffee and cloves, and you will see local people raking and sifting their coffee beans in courtyards beside the road. The refreshing temperature at this high altitude is an average of ten degrees below the coastal regions of Bali and the views are magnificent, extending across cobalt water towards dense forest and angular hills.


For a close to nature experience, you can trek through the tropical, almost primeval, rainforest that borders the lakes. Beside the main road, on the shoulder of land between the two lakes is a temple, and adjacent to this is a meandering flight of steps leading down into the forest. Hidden temples lie in clearings within the trees, revered places where the Balinese pay, yet more, homage to their gods. The pathways through the forest are narrow and the undergrowth is around two metres high but, in the dry season, it is not difficult to negotiate the route. Moss encrusted trees soar towards the sky, sheets of tattered lichen hang draped around their branches, and strangle figs embrace their hosts. The jungle, however, is not a dark place; shafts of bright sunlight penetrate the glades, staghorn ferns rest in soft cradles, butterflies flutter between flowering creepers, and exotic blooms break through the forest floor. The area is abundant in bird life and popular with birdwatchers. You may spot babblers, woodpeckers, ground thrushes and malkohas, if not you will most certainly hear them. When you stop to listen to it, the sound of the birdsong is enchanting; it will delight and captivate you.


The pathways will lead you to a clearing beside Lake Tamblingan, next to Pura Tahun, a temple with an eleven-roofed ‘meru’. Motorboats and water sports are forbidden on both of these lakes, the natural spring that feeds them provides water for drinking and the lakes are also a rich source of fish – evident by curious wooden, offshore fishing platforms. On the opposite side of the lake is the tiny village of Munduk Tamblingan where the local people also make their living from rearing cattle on the lotus that grows in the shallow water. Here you will find Pura Gubug, the Farmers’Temple, dedicated to the lake goddess. Close to Lake Tamblingan, set between orange groves, tobacco elds and hedges of pink bougainvillea, is the pretty village of Munduk where the hilltop restaurant of Ngiring Ngewedang offers freshly harvested coffee and a breathtaking vista of palm trees, deep valleys, jungle and mountains. Two kilometres further down the road, a short track lined with sweet scented clove trees leads to a mighty waterfall. This is an alluring place where you can bathe and absorb the invigorating energy emanating from the fierce cascading water. The very essence of nature, in the physical and spiritual heart of rural Bali.

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Jl. Tangkuban Perahu III No. 4 Padangsambian, Denpasar
Bali - Indonesia


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