Indonesia - Living in a wheeping bamboo treehouse
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
I loved the region of Ubud 9 years ago - that was the only part in Bali which really got under my skin. So, of course, I wanted to share this experience this time with Markus. That is why we came here. But beforehand I was warned a bit by many vlogs - Ubud seemed to have changed quite a bit. Still all vloggers come here and stay longterm in Ubud or Canggu and rave about it. But watching different vlogs, I could see a Bali and especially Ubud which I did not like (traffic chaos, too many people in one place, fancy modern shops and cafes, far too many artificial instagram spots). So, we were curious to come here and see what it was for us.
The day we left Sudaji in the north was the 1st of january - and it was nonstop pouring down. Originally we thought of taking a taxi down to Singarajah and then a bus to Ubud and from there a scooter to our accomodation. But with the terrible rain we opted for the taxi the whole way. It was a pleasant drive which surely is beautiful without rain and fog. We went past Kintamani - but could not see more than a metre around us. So no lake view or Mount Batur view for us.
We had booked an AirBnB in Tampaksiring - a very special one: a treehouse in the middle of the rice fields. It was not really cheap (still 50 US$ is ok for both of us) but looked amazing. Originally we had booked 4 nights there. But after 4 nights in the bamboo bungalow in Sudaji, all our stuff was already really humid. So we were a bit worried that we will suffer from the constant humidity with 4 more nights open air in the rain. We spontanously shortened our stay to 3 nights. When we arrived at our remote treehouse, we were thrilled. It was amazing and huge. It is privately run by a local family of rice farmers. They have 2 treehouses next to each other, a third one is about to be ready in a month. And around the houses tropical plants, fruit trees and rice fields. From the little road we had to walk a few meters to reach an open air kitchen. The lady welcomed us and brought as over a small walking path to the our treehouse. We were the only guests, the other treehouse was empty. A fact that gave us a really adventurous and remote feeling (esp. at night). The treehouse was amazing. on the ground level there was a sitting area with big cushions and a table and also a huge bathroom, all made of bamboo and vulcanic stones. With a stairway up to the upper floor you reach a big bedroom with a cupboard a bamboo bed and a balcony. There are no windows, but we could lock the bedroom which was really helpful. From the balcony we had views over the ricefields with a horizon to Sanur on a clear day. Simply amazing! We unpacked our stuff and hang everyhting to dry. Luckily, it stopped raining and the wind blew the clothes dry in less than an hour. Problem solved.
Later the day we rented a scooter from the family and drove about 15 min. to downtown Ubud. The drive was beautiful, rain had stopped and we were happy. Then, downtown Ubud the big shock. This is not a spiritual village any more. This is a big town! We drove down Jalan Hanuman and Jalan Monkey Forest: shops with AC and all the big labels. Not these cute local shops any more. Well, we parked our scooter and first had some food at the Earth Café, one of many vegan options in town. Food was nice, but the prices were also shocking! That is nearly like in Switzerland! At least, the massages were cheap. So we decided to enjoy a full hour Balinese Massage. It was really good, we got some tea in the end and felt very relaxed. The good thing about the development of Ubud is that now you also have amenities like a big supermarket. So we stocked up on some food and much needed mossy spray before we drove back home. Again, it was a beautiful drive. When we arrived in our street and parked the scooter, it was really spooky: only a few weal lights showed us the way through the ricefields to our house. There was no-one around. We could only hear some frogs and the wind. Knowing that there are many snakes in the rice fields, it was, let's say, a strange feeling to walk around at night. We made ourselves dinner in the kitchen, enjoyed the views before we ended the day on our balcony by observing many, many fireflies. It was magic: the green lights of the fireflies around us, a gentle wind blowing, the sound of the palm trees in the wind and the flickerin glights of Sanur is a distance. Through our house a palm tree was growing so with the wind, the treehouse was slighty moving a bit. We did not want to go to bed - it was too nice to just hang on the balcony in our cushions and relax. But finally we went, after having a perfectly hot shower in the outdoor bath. Life can be wonderful, especially when it is down to basics: nature, food, shower and a bed.
The next morning, very early, we did meditation on the balcony - what a great way to start the day. As the weather was superclear, we spontanously decided to drive up to Kintamani again to enjoy the views ofer the lake to Mount Batur. So, through some picture perfect backstreets where we could observe the untouristy village life, we went up onto the crater rim. Unfortunately we had to pay 100.000 IR to enter the area - classical tourist fee, because locals did not have to pay. But, what can you do.... So we enjoyed perfect views. To escape from the non-stop talking ladies who wanted to sell something, we went into a restaurant. On the terrasse we found a peaceful corner with great views in the sun and could enjoy a vegan cappuccino. It was super touristy with tourgroups coming and going. But we had a nice spot and just enjoyed doing nothing. When the weather was about to change we drove down to Ubud. After 45 min. we reached the town. First we wanted to visit the Saraswati Temple - of course, closed to tourists. So we went to the Ubud Palace which is a nice building - but that's it. We found some backyards which turned out to be private but here it was nice and peaceful at least. The main streets were just packed with tourists - it was congest, moisy, stinky, simply terrible. We went to the market - horrible. We were just glad when we finally found our way out. In a café with a nice courtyard, we relaxed a bit and finally wanted to go to the famous Sage restaurant for dinner. But it was closed. So we finally gave up, went back to the Earth Café where at least food was nice. Ubud was not our thing and we were so very happy that we could escape back to Tampaksiring into our treehouse. This was like a little heaven.
On our last day in the area we did not go far for some really great sights. Early morning we visited Gunung Kawi, some ancient temples build in rock faces. I came here already 9 years ago and loved it. And again this time. We were nearly alone there. It was peaceful and the temples are stunning surrounded by beautiful landscapes. We walked all ways possible, went to a small hidden waterfall, hiked through some rice terrasses, enjoyed some time at the river and finally had a fresh dragon fruit juice overlooking the whole area - alone! That was amazing. We even bought some sarongs which we needed anyway. Prices were fair, quality was ok and the people friendly and not pushy. Afterwards, we also visited famous Tirta Empul. The holy springs were really full, but mainly with local people. so it was bearable. Unfortunately we could not enter the main temple area. We chose not to have a bath - to many people squeezed into the water, but instead we sprinkled ourselves with the holy water. We ended a perfect day at the Sripadi Warung which is just outside the Tirta Empul complex. It is a pure vegan warung with amazing local vegan food and amazing prices. We had vegan sate, vegan bakso and mie goreng followed by a Jamu Kunyit which is an indonesian drink and medicine against all kinds of diseases basically made of tumeric, ginger, tamarind and some other spices. We both loved it, especially drinking it hot. The minute we started eating it started raining again. So we waited for a while till we drove back home to enjoy our last day in the treehouse.
Although vegan food in Ubud is plentiful and nice (but expensive), the massages are good and cheap and the landscape is nice, we cannot recommend to visit Ubud. Our treehouse in Tampaksiring was wonderful and we would come back there again. But Ubud not really - it has lost its soul which I enjoyed so much 9 years ago! For the moment, we were happy to only stay 3 nights and cannot really get it why people stay here longterm. There are so many unique and wonderful places in Indonesia that are really indonesian and not overrun und influenced by modern lifestyle.....
So the next morning again we took a taxi - grab was not picking us up in Tampaksiring to take us further south. So again we had to spend a lot of money on transport. That really is a problem in Bali when you want to go to secret spots and do not have your own wheels. It gets expensive getting there. Once at your destination, renting a scooter is easy and cheap. But going from place A to B is really expensive. The result of the tourism here. Anyway, the drive was beautiful, passing by some villages around Sidemen. And after about 2 hours we reached Seraya, our last stop on Bali and another place you cannot find on travelblog. It was remote again. More about this in our next blog.