If you happened to be on Bali this weekend gone and were wondering why there was so much unseasonal rain, I can tell you why — we decided to go away for the weekend.
After our less than successful “around the island” jaunt (return home with screaming kids after two days (and again accompanied by copious rain)) we decided to opt for a far more simple jaunt — head to Sideman, hang out for two nights and return.
Sideman is a valley with (rumoured) views to Gunung Agung (the gobsmacking big volcano you can see from Sanur while quaffing a cheap Bintang or three). I say rumoured because it was shrouded in clouds for most of the time, though we did see a sliver of it at one stage.
Sideman is also famed for its rice terraces — and they really really are stunning. But more on them afterwards.
We took a circuitous route from Sanur as we had to head up to Ubud to pick up some friends who were joining us — if you happen to live in Venice and are wondering where all the tourists are, don’t fret — they haven’t been kidnapped by extra-terrestrials — they’re in Ubud.
And while it will forever escape me why you would fly from Osaka or Frankfurt to buy designer goods in Ubud, others do appear to have figured it out. And while I don’t begrudge them their shopping habits, I do more than begrudge them their big fat tour buses who most certainly should be banned from downtown Ubud (if not Bali).
The upside of all this is if you want to see beautiful Bali without the tour buses, hordes and touts, then head to Sideman — that’s what we did.
We stayed at the Lihat Sawah Guesthouse which, for starters, needs to update the pics on their website — as, like with a lot of the area, they’ve got chillies in the ground rather than rice — and their rooms have, well, aged somewhat. They could also give the bathrooms a serious de-moulding while they’re at it.
Mould and damp aside our room was reasonable, though not cheap. 700,000Rp for a family room (one room with a big double and two kids beds in the main room) with dinner and breakfast included. Dinner was very good,with huge portions of Thai food (courtesy of some Thai chef the kitchen staff worked with long days gone), but breakfast was a cruel joke — so if you’re not partial to Thai food (nor crappy breakfasts) then skip the full board version. There are other eating options around the place. Our friends paid 100-200,000 for a budget room and they rated it pretty well.
One point worth noting about here though are the staff — exceptionally friendly — even if they don’t like to share umbrellas.
The views are terrific — even in the rain — and the guesthouse has quite lovely gardens full of all sorts of critters and insects.
The first afternoon we just sat around mostly, but the next day we grabbed a map (see below) and see off exploring. Like all good maps there was ample opportunity to get lost and, over the next three hours we did exactly that — at least it didn’t rain.
If we’d had more time (and energy), we’d have climbed to the hill top temple opposite the guesthouse and we’d probably take a guided walk (50,000 Rp per hour) to get a bit more info on what we were all tramping through.
It’s a great spot — very low key, there are a few foreign travellers about but a smidgen compared to any of the busier locales. Where we stayed had no pool, but other digs do and we’ll probably check those out as well next time we visit — which will probably be sooner than later.
If you’re looking for a good escape, to see Bali in a really beautiful light, then Sideman might be just what you’re looking for — give it two nights if you can.