A Travellerspoint blog

Trekking in Munduk, roughing it in Padangbai

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Apologies upfront for those who take their verb tenses seriously: I began writing this in the present tense while I was still in Munduk, and finished it several days later here in Padangbai, and haven't got the battery power left right now to edit and make it all consistent. I'm also still hoping to get photos up at some point....not sure when, though!

To pick up where I left off before: At the end of our long, expensive drive from Ubud to Munduk, we were excited to be shown our room at the Puri Alam Bali Hotel: it has a queen-sized bed in the main room and two twin beds in a second room. Two bedrooms! What a find after squeezing into a single room with one of the mattresses on the floor for 10 days in Ubud. The bathroom is also a cut above average. The staff are a little unusual; the hotel has eight rooms, but I’ve only ever seen two people working here, whether at the front desk or the restaurant or cleaning the rooms. One of them has the air, bearing and mannerisms of an undertaker: he speaks slowly, quietly and soothingly, with little expression in tone or on his face. It’s rather as if he’s trying to hypnotize you while he speaks. I suspect that along with running the front desk, cleaning the rooms, and taking the food orders at the restaurant, he also cooks the meals. Strangely, he keeps asking us to order our food at least an hour before we’d like to eat it. Last night as we settled our dinner bill, he asked if he would like to order our breakfast ahead of time. Usually by the time the food arrives, it is nearly completely cold…even the eggs. Cold fried eggs, yum! I think that’s because Mr. Sepulchral is single-handedly juggling sixteen different hotel-related tasks, literally trying to be in all places at once. If you see him at the main floor reception area and mention that you’d like to order lunch, he says sure, go ahead up to the restaurant. So you go ahead, but no one’s there. You grab a menu, take it to your room to look it over, and return to the restaurant—and there he is, notepad in hand.

Today, our first full day in Munduk, we decided to hire a guide and go trekking. We were assigned Ketut, whose English has apparently been deemed “intermediate.” (The price list for guides assigns different dollar figures depending on their level of English. A guide with no English costs $3 per hour; for intermediate English, $5 per hour. If you must have a guide who speaks “experienced” English, the price is $7 per hour. We decided that no English at all was probably going to be a little bit pointless, but we were too thrifty to spring for an expert.)

Ketut—whose name means that he is his parents’ fourth child—turned out to be just fine, and led us on a three-hour walk that took us first through orchards of clove, coffee, cacao, guava, papaya, avocado, vanilla and jackfruit before leading us through rice fields and home again. We picked at least one of each fruit we could reach—lots of cloves (we could see large sheets of those drying in the sun in front of farms we passed), a few guavas, and cacao pods. He was able to explain, sometimes with the help of comical gestures, some of the plants’ various healing properties. Guava, for example, is eaten to treat diarrhea while another leafy plant whose name I forget can be squashed, soaked in water and then the water extracted to combat the opposite problem. The kids just loved Ketut acting out irritable bowel syndrome.

Ketut was particularly good with Ciaran. They began the walk holding hands, joking and chatting, and Ketut ended up carrying him about a third of the way on his back and later on his shoulders. He has a four-year-old son himself and seemed to easily strike up a rapport. We met his family as we walked out of town towards the trail.

We tried different treks on each of our remaining two days in Munduk—one that took us up to what is reputed to be the largest banyan tree in Bali (and it really was impressive) and another that took us on a tour of several waterfalls. We managed those ones on our own. Descending from the banyan tree trek, we ran into a gaggle of school kids. Communicating mainly through gestures and our rudimentary knowledge of how to translate Indonesian numbers from one to ten, we managed to exchange names and ages. Chloe then took out a piece of looseleaf paper and made an airplane, and passed it along to one of them. That seemed to start an airplane-making frenzy (they had some of their own paper, since they were on their way home from school), and we continued behind them on the trail, catching and throwing paper airplanes, for about half an hour.

All of this was a few days ago, and now we’re back on the coast, in Padangbai, formerly a quaint fishing village but now transformed into something of a backpacker mecca. There are a few beaches nearby and some snorkelling to be done, but we all got too much sun today so we’re putting that off another day. The most interesting feature of our stay in Padangbai so far has been this guest house we’re staying in. We thought we’d save some money by staying at this quirky, cheap little place with just five rooms above a popular café. Well, the café itself and all of the guesthouse’s common areas are actually fabulous…but these rooms. What can I say? They’re really more like lockers in size, and about as breezy; the walls are bamboo, so you can hear everything through them. They’re located above the kitchen, so well into the night and again early in the morning you can actually hear chopping, slicing and banging of pots going on, and smell the foods cooking. Today when we came home from dinner and I opened a toiletry kit in my room to get some toothbrushes out, a gigantic cockroach went skittering out of the kit and under the bed. Chloe nearly jumped out of her skin. Ciaran reassured us that he had seen just such a creature at Ray’s Reptiles and it was all good.

Also on the subject of interesting wildlife, there has been a bat in here both of the last two evenings, and we saw our first rat while walking home from dinner. It came out of a sewer and ran into a garbage pile and we could hear it squeaking as we went by. Lovely! I tucked the mosquito net in pretty thoroughly before getting into bed tonight. We have two more nights here before we move on to Sanur and possibly Nusa Lembongan – hopefully to better rooms in both places.

Posted by The Rymans 06:55 Archived in Indonesia Tagged family_travel

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Comments

Love the Munduk hotel description - sounds like you were staying with the Munsters!!! Rememeber so many places that seemed 'perfect except for...'!

by CRFS

I'm freaking out!!!!! Can't wait for the next update.

by Tricia

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