Trip to Bali and Ijen

The first part of my Bali trip with my family can be read here

Om swastiastu… cat and bear were in Bali! Finally the cat could show (a small part of) Indonesia to the bear. We spent 6 days travelling around in Bali. However, one night was actually spent in Banyuwangi, at the east coast of Java, since we wanted to hike to Ijen crater.

In front of Ijen crater

*WARNING* this post is going to be looong :D. In summary, we went to Bali Bird Park, chillin’ at Double Six beach, hiking to Ijen crater, Kalisada village in the northern coast of Bali, then drove down to Ubud. From Ubud we visited Gunung Kawi temple, Tirta Empul, Batur lake and Elephant Cave. If you want to skip the stories, just check the pictures from the trip here. Oh, and check how well the bear can speak Indonesian language in this post :).

Day 1: Bali Bird Park, Double Six beach

After visiting Bali Bird Park and sent my family back home, in the evening, we just relaxed at Double Six beach, had a good chat, while listening to live music and watching planes landing in the airport (as you know, the bear is a flying enthusiast :p). Both of us agreed that, “Hey, this trip starts very nicely, let’s hope that the rest of it will also be great.” 🙂

Day 2: Denpasar – Banyuwangi (crossing the Bali strait)

We considered several options to reach Banyuwangi from Bali. ‘Bali-Ijen tour package’ was crossed out quickly because we didn’t want to be tied to an inflexible schedule and route. ‘Renting a car’ was our first option, because based on our previous trips, road trip is always the best way to travel. But… the bear not having an international driving license would be a problem if polices stop us on our way. Long story short, we decided to opt for ‘public transportation’, despite of the hassle created by me carrying a suitcase instead of a backpack ^^;

This blog post becomes our guide for Bali-Ijen transportation. A taxi (with meter) brought us from our hotel to Ubung bus terminal in Denpasar for IDR 90,000. At the terminal, we were looking for some kind of central ticket counter, but there was none. Instead, we were surrounded by people asking where we want to go and (aggressively) offering tickets. In the end, we rode a (non-AC) bus from Ubung to Ketapang Indah Hotel (our hotel in Banyuwangi) for IDR 85,000 per person.

We learned some lessons from this experience: never pay a ticket before hopping on the bus and before the bus starts and never buy a ticket from people offering tickets outside the bus and outside ticket counters. The (aggressive) people selling tickets would be like, “Hurry, buy this ticket, the bus is going now… NOW!” and even the bus would start the engine. The thing is, the bus will just move for 100 meters then stop, it won’t leave the terminal before it is full of passengers.

You will feel tricked when you notice that the bus has no AC, you cannot get your money back (to get on another bus), the bus leaves only around 1 hour later, and the worst is… you paid an overpriced ticket! I was upset, of course. The bear was too, I guess, but he kept cheering me up :”>. “Cat and bear can do!” becomes our motto for dealing with any hardship in our trip :D.

Actually, the taxi driver advised us to get on the bus outside the terminal, but we didn’t know how things work. Looking at what locals did, we learned another lesson that we should just wait at the terminal exit gate, so we can get on the bus that surely leaves the terminal. We just need to confirm beforehand that it goes to our destination.

We spent probably more than 7 hours on the road and ferry. The ferry crossed the strait (Gilimanuk – Ketapang) in less than half an hour, but it had to wait for another hour to be able to dock at the crowded port. Anyway, the good thing with the bus is that people can get off wherever they want, and we could get off right in front of our hotel, which is by the main road :).

After the stressful day on the road, finally we could enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool and had a dinner.

Day 3: Ijen Crater, Banyuwangi – Kalisada village (crossing the Bali strait)

We took the hotel’s offer of a transport package (4×4 ride with driver, max 4 persons) to Paltuding, the hiking starting point to Ijen crater, for IDR 750,000. We wanted to see the blue flames so we had to go very early. The hotel arranged for us to be picked up at 1 AM and prepared our breakfast (sandwiches, fruits and drinks) to be packed for the hike. We just took a small nap before the room’s phone started ringing as a wake-up service from the hotel.

The entrance fee for the hiking trek to Ijen crater is IDR 100,000 per person, without a guide. The trek is very easy though, so no guide is needed. We forgot to bring flashlights, fortunately our driver prepared the flashlights (and facemasks) for us.

After we arrived at the rim of the crater, some people were pestering us to be our guide for going down to see the blue flames. In the end we just went down ourselves ^^ though not so far down, only until we could see the blue fire… and it was very cool! The bear: “Wow, it’s not a scam!” 😀

Failing to see the sunrise (blocked by clouds), we just spent the rest of the morning enjoying our breakfast by the crater… and the gorgeous view.

The view during the walk back down is also beautiful…

We arrived back at the hotel around 10 AM. After a short nap and lunch at the hotel, we were ready to go back to Bali, to the north coast!

It started with a taxi (with meter) ride from our hotel to Ketapang port for IDR 30,000. Arriving at the port, it was not so difficult to find the official ticket counter. But still… we were tricked again ^^; The ticket guy said IDR 30,000 for both of us, then I paid. I took the tickets without noticing that the written price is IDR 7,500 per person and that we paid for 4 tickets!

After we arrived at Gilimanuk port in Bali, we headed for the bus terminal, ignoring people who offer to drive us wherever we want for IDR 200,000 (?). We couldn’t see any taxi around, and there is no sign whatsoever about how to reach the terminal (where there should be minibuses). So we resorted to asking people, port officers to be exact, who wear uniforms :p.

Learning from experience, we boarded on a minibus without paying first, after being told that the ride costs IDR 40,000 per person. Then, 3 other female foreigners boarded the minibus after aggressively negotiating the price for IDR 25,000 per person (we should learn from them ^^) until Lovina. Our hotel is even before Lovina. The two locals sitting in front of us told us that it should be IDR 40,000 for two. So, in the end, right before we got off, we paid IDR 50,000 for two.

Again, we spent half of the day travelling, and arrived at our hotel, Kali Manik Eco Resort, shortly before sunset.

Day 4: Kalisada

We really love the resort! You can check my review of it in ;). We started the day with swimming at the beach, continued with cycling around the village. It was interesting to see the villagers activities at the rice fields, and how friendly they are. Along the way, we always heard, “Hello, mister!”, but… never “Hello, miss!”, which made me feel completely ignored :D.

It was too hot for cycling though, around 1~2 PM, so at some point I just stayed at a warung, drinking iced tea, while the bear continued cycling further. The rest of the day we were just relaxing at the resort, and doing laundry :D.

Did I mention that the food they cook at the resort was the best one throughout our trip? It was amazingly delicious! I would love to go there again just for the food!

Day 5: Kalisada – Ubud, Kubu Kopi coffee shop, Buyan and Tamblingan lakes

We had the same routine as the previous day: swimming, breakfast, then cycling. However, after collecting our dried laundry we started packing and headed to… Ubud! We decided to take the car (and driver) provided by the resort to take us to Ubud for IDR 700,000. We were too tired (or lazy?) to deal with the hassle of public transportation again :D. But it was a good choice, because the driver took us through the scenic route to Ubud, and stopped whenever we saw a beautiful view.

He even stopped at the Kubu Kopi coffee shop for us to have a guided tour of spices and luwak coffee. The tour was interesting because the girl gave a tour around a garden full of spice plants. She gave us something to chew then asked us to guess what it was. A little bit embarrassing for me because… as an Indonesian girl, I didn’t recognize most of the spices by their plants ^^;

the bear, finally knows how coffee and cocoa trees look like

The most embarrassing moment was when she gave us a fruit, “Chew but don’t swallow”, she said. It tasted really sweet. Both of us didn’t know what it was. “Really??”, she asked, and then said, “This is coffee!” She said that this is why luwak likes it, because it’s sweet. But yeah, the rising popularity of luwak coffee results in this… which is a bit sad.

Next stop was the twin lakes, Buyan and Tamblingan…

The bear said, “Look at what this couple is doing despite of the beautiful view.” 😀 Maybe ‘chatting’ to each other…

We passed by Bratan lake too, with its picturesque temple, but we didn’t stop because it would take some time to drive down and back up, while it was still a long drive until Ubud. Besides, we saw it often enough on the IDR 50,000 banknote, hoho.

picture is taken from here

Day 6: Gunung Kawi, Tirta Empul, Batur lake, Elephant Cave

This part of the trip is not what I imagined it will be. To be honest, when I think of Ubud, I imagine a romantic walk or cycling in a beautiful rice paddy surrounding, while greeting the local artists painting or stone-carving, or watching locals doing their pray rituals. Blame the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ movie :D.

The first wrong thing is the hotel, which is quite far from everything (except a minimarket). I thought that it means that the surrounding will be nicer, since it is far from the city center, so it has more like a village ambiance. But nope, nothing like that, just a hotel by the road. The second wrong thing is to rent a car plus driver for a day, just like what we did previously with my family, because then the trip became: drove to a place, took pictures, drove to another place, took some more pictures, and so on… which is definitely not the bear’s style :D.

Well, we still had fun though ^^.

The first stop was Gunung Kawi temple, the so called ‘Angkor Wat of Bali’. Then, we visited Tirta Empul temple, the place where people can take a bath in the holy water.

We had lunch with the marvelous view of Mt Batur and Batur lake. Somehow we let the driver decide to bring us to a restaurant endorsed by him to have a great view. The view is surely great, but the food made me lose my appetite :D. It’s in a buffet-style, and the choices are a bit limited.

After lunch, we craved some activities. We consulted our Lonely Planet from 2011, and decided to cycle around the lake, because it would be too late to start hiking up the mountain. We asked our driver to bring us to a place that’s supposed to be a bicycle rental, only to find there was nothing to rent. Feeling disappointed, we walked around and found a pedal boat rental instead. So, we explored the lake by pedaling a seahorse boat :D.

Before going back to the hotel, we visited the Elephant Cave. The cave itself is not so special, but the carving at the entrance is quite impressive. The cool thing is that the whole area is an archaeological site, so you can see some relics on a cliff face. The cave was rediscovered in 1923, while the fountain and the pool were not found until 1954 (source: Lonely Planet).

While exploring the site, we found a sign for a trek towards a ‘Buddhist temple’ and we followed the trail in OpenStreetMap. It was a real forest path, with high trees and streams, and finally the bear could get the feeling of trekking inside a rain-forest. It was a bit scary for me though, because it started to get dark, and you know how scary Indonesian ghosts are :p. Until the end of the path we didn’t see any Buddhist temple. Then we had to follow the main road to get back to the parking lot. I was a fun adventure! 😀

I tried to look online about this mysterious path, and probably it was the forest path mentioned here, to get to Elephant Cave from Ubud Dedari Villas. If we continued, then we could actually get to Yeh Pulu, but we didn’t.


Phew… that was long. Despite of all the difficulties in travelling in Indonesia, that there is no reliable public transportation and we get tricked about the fares, I am happy that finally the bear could see my homeland (and my family :”>). Bali is also a great place for water sports, snorkeling or diving, but we didn’t get a chance to try them. “Next time”, he said, next time… for sure :).

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