It is hard to find, but there are still some spiritual and "real" corners left on this island. After a terrible start in Bali we hoped for better. To be honest, we had spent long hours at home looking for some remote places to find a Bali how it was many, many years ago. This is definitely impossible and you realise that the minute you have arrived in a remote village which already has a 5G antenna. But, I guess, we came as close to the real Bali as it is still possible.
We definitely lucked out. We stayed at Omunity and were greeted very warmly by Zanzan, the owner, and his wife Putu. Omunity was founded by Zanzan in 2010. Its highest goal is to make it a green sustainable place for guests where the whole village is involved. That means: prosperity for a remote village on a sustainable basis without plastic, dangerous chemicals and toxic fertilisers. And it is a vegeterian place overall! Zanzan and his wife also have a spiritual master and have been to India to visit him: Sri Chinmoy. Although his teachings are not the same as from our master, Paramahamsa Vishwananda, the basics and the final goal are the same. And we could both feel the immediately bond we 4 shared - being a devotee of a master is something special and they also had this special vibe. In the middle of the
guesthouse was an open space for meditation. So every morning we could do meditation together at 6 am - we have different kinds of meditation, but that did not matter. Love and respect for each another was there! And this was amazing. Something we had missed while travelling - sharing this love and experience with a spiritual master. The stories they told us were similar to the stories we could tell about our master.
Each evening we had dinner there which was amazing because of plenty of vegan food. There was a buffet with 7-9 different things each night, only 1 of the dishes was not vegan. Heaven for us! All guests came together for dinner and we sat at 1 big table. And, before dinner, there was always the food prayer. Sometimes Zanzan did the prayer or sometimes he asked us to do the prayer - that happens when there is a deeper understanding for each other. It was wonderful.
We stayed in a room made completely out of bamboo by the villagers. It was nice, cozy and clean. Attached was a beautiful open air bathroom. So after we arrived, we went for a short walk around the village and the surroundings and stocked up with some snacks. And we just enjoyed hanging on our balcony overlooking the pool and doing basically nothing. It was an early night. Well, here in North Bali it rains much more than in the rest. And as it was rainy season, we had lots of rain.
The following day, after morning meditation and yoga and a delicious breakfast, we enjoyed a wonderful balinese massage before we went for a hike uphill to the Sekumpul Waterfall. It was a beautiful hike through the little villages passing by so many local, private temples. Half way to the waterfall, heavy rain started. So we just jumped into a little local coffee shop. We had our first balinese coffee, which was amazing and so very yummy. And the local lady gave us some bananas fresh from the tree and 1 kilo of mangosteen. As the rain lasted for a bit more than 1 hour, we finished all. I did not remember how tasty mangosteen was! By far, since then, this is our favourite fruit!. When the rain stopped we continued our hike through beautiful rice terraces till we reached the entrance to the waterfall - we were back on the
tourist trap. There are different price categories, depending if you just want to go to the first viewpoint, make a short hike, a long hike or go bathing. This is ridiculous. And one group of tourists after the other arrived. We know that is probably must be beautiful with all the natural slides, jumping points and the dense greenery around. But we just wanted to get away of this topurist craziness. Yes, also here in the north! Maybe all the people coming from South Bali think that this is remote - but it is not. Everything is just set up to make money with foreign tourists. So, we only payed a small entrance fee and had a look over the falls from the first viewpoint and left again. It was nice but we happily continued our way back to Sudaji. After some relaxing time, it was already time for dinner. We talked to some other guests from Norway and Germany which were really nice. Good talks, great food and pleasant atmosphere in quiet surroundings made for a perfect evening. Well, not really quiet - the frog concert here is simply amazing!
Next morning I got up early for my meditation. When I came out, Zanzan was running towards me and asking for help. He had a meeting somewhere but some guests wanted to do yoga in the morning. Putu was also not there - so he asked me to do the yoga for the guests. It was a pleasure to do it for me - but I only had 10 minutes to prepare myself. So we did Babaji Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) together followed by OM Chanting (a group meditation technique). What a great way to start the day. After a breakfast we rented a scooter which turned out to be the private scooter of the school teacher of the village - like we said, the whole village is involved into the Omunity. It was a great scooter. We started driving up into the mountains on small, very scenic backroads. It was wonderful, but really cool and foggy. But again we were shocked. We were early on the road and it was empty - but people prepared thenselves to be ready to greet the tourists coming up during the day from the south. On each mountain ridge there are different selfie spots, swings, bird's nests and whatever one might need to make the perfect selfie. It is such a lovely landscape here, still mainly untouched and intect - why do people need theses things to make perfect pictures. Enjoying pure nature is much more perfect! We just cannot get this way of travelling.... maybe we are getting old. Well, people can do what they want and every style of travelling is fine - but I just have a problem when nature is destroyed intensily. And it looks like this is happening all over Bali.
Anyway, we enjoyed our drive through the mountains and payed a visit to the most photographed sight in Bali: Pura Ulun Danu Beratan Bedugul - the water temple. No need to say that the temple grounds were flooded by tour groups. But it looked really beautiful. Just a shame that tourists are not allowed inside the temple grounds. Understandably, as there are too many tourists. But bad luck for us as we really wanted to join the local ceremonies. And either the temples are private and one can not enter or there are too many tourists and you can also not enter although being properly dressed. But ok. We continued our journey with the scooter back north to the road overlooking the twin lakes Danau Buyan and Danau Tamblingan. It is a wonderful drive, but unfortunately the weather was really chilly (and we had only T-Shirts) and there was a lot of fog. Again - one selfie spot (with high entrance fees) after the other. We stopped at some points to simply enjoy the views and finally reach the Warung du Lac Tamblingan. It had a nice terrasse overlooking the lake in the middle of a dense vegetation. Very beautiful and only few tourists here. The warung shocked us with Bali prices, but coffee and fruit juces were nice. Through the wide spread village of Munduk we drove now back to the coast. And we were really lucky. It was so cold that we were wearing the raincoats - but we only caught a short rainshower. There were thunderstorm all around us, but we stayed surprisingly dry. That was great as the road was supersteep. It was a wonderful drive, really stunning. We finally arrived at the Bramha Vihara Arama - a buddhist temple with hindu elements. I came here already 9 years ago and it was a magic place. In the meantime you have to pay an entrance
fee (which still is cheap). But it still is a spiritual oasis and we enjoyed it a lot. We spent a lot of time here and just enjoyed the silence and peacefulness. On the way back to Sudaji we made a stop at Lovina Beach for sunset - not our piece of cake. The beach is not really nice and this is mass tourism with a lot of cheap drinking venues. Already 9 years ago I could observe 70 year old pensioners with very young ladies - it is still the same today. So we quickly left and were lucky when we arrived back "home" in Sudaji. Here, Bali is still how it must have been many, many years ago all over the island. Despite the 5G antenna, of course.
Our last day in Sudaji was the last day of the year 2019. And it was raining the full day. So, we did what we needed to do. We were working. Having our own company, we had to catch up with some things, make the last payments of the year and get everything ready. It was pleasant to sit on our balcony with the rain pouring down all day long. Funny fact: the rain was so heavy, we had to use an umbrella to go on our open air toilet :-). Made for some funny pictures. After a dinner all guests disappeared to celebrate the new year. We did the same. On our balcony we quietly welcomed the new year 2020. And the next morning, it was
already time to say goodbye to Zanzan and Putu. We both had tears in our eyes. So lovely people who made our stay really special! By car, we went further south into the heart of Bali. Again we avoided to stay in touristy Ubud. It took us 2 hours in heavy rainfalls to reach our next destination: a treehouse in Tampaksiring, away from everything. More about this in the next blog.