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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

While Bali isn’t anywhere near the size of Java, it’s not a tiny island either and there is much more to it than just Denpasar. I rented a motorbike for 50,000 IDR per day (about $5) and my CouchSurfing host, Nina drove us to spend a couple days on Bali’s north shore. The drive took about 5 hours, with stops to check out Pura Ulun Danu Batur Temple and Gitgit Falls.

Built on a lake, the temple is a huge draw for visitors, but didn’t do anything for me. The loads of tourists took away from the pristine serenity of the temple on the lake. Gitgit, on the other hand, was totally worth a stop. There were a couple pretty big waterfalls and pools for swimming.

Singaraja’s main draw is morning dolphin watching at Lovina Beach. A 2 hour boat ride costs 60,000 IDR (about $6) and departs before dawn. You aren’t guaranteed to see any dolphins, but we managed to see a few. What we mostly saw were hundreds of tourists on dozens of boats that blanketed the water. Like the Monkey Forest in Ubud, the best part of dolphin watching at Lovina was marveling at the massive number of tourists. Irawati dolphin watching near Don Khon was a much, much better experience.

Banjar Hot Springs is a short drive from Lovina and a great option after taking in the dolphins. At just 5000 IDR (about 50 cents) it was ridiculously cheap to enter and not a bad way to spend an hour or two. We alternated between soaking in the baths, which weren’t terribly hot, and standing under falling water spouts that gave a nice massage.

Unlike the rest of Indonesia, Bali is mostly Hindu. In addition to a relaxed approach towards alcohol and pork, this also means there are opportunities to take in some Hindu culture. I was lucky to catch a sunset ash scattering ceremony at a beach in Lovina. The ceremony involved singing, chanting, a naked boy, and 2 birds.

I love it when a place has a signature dish. Singajara is known for its siobak, which is actually Chinese. Siobak Singajara consists of pork, pork offal, and chicharones covered in a pork-soy sauce. It was very Chinese, pretty good, and not-so-spicy. I definitely prefer BABI GULING.

It was nice to take in a part of Bali outside of the greater Denpasar area. I didn’t fall in love with Singaraja, but had a decent time there. The dolphins alone are not worth the trip, but the journey getting there is quite scenic and it’s a pleasant place to spend a few days away from the congestion of the island’s south.

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