Those Days You Don’t See on Post Cards

When visiting a place that has been visited by many and described as an incredible, breathtaking place, I think one might raise their own expectations toward the place. After reading numerous positive reviews of the place, one might expect to get the same experience those reviewers got. After looking through a vast amount of photographs of the place, one might expect to see the same amazing views the photographer saw. But what happens when the day you visited the place everyone gushes on about turns out to be the day you don’t see on those photos or positive reviews?

On our second day of our vacation in Bali, part of our agenda was to head uphill and check in at a hotel near the northern end of Bali while stopping by two tourist attractions : Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. The skies were already turning grey at the time of decision, but we thought “oh, it’s summer. It won’t rain.”

How very wrong we were.

As we got to Pura Tanah Lot, the skies only got darker and apparently, we got there at high tide. By high tide, I mean high tide. The waves were pounding on the rocks as close to the red flag set to mark the dangerous area and even splashed on the tourists nearby. At times, the waves just went past the red flag and further into the once-dry areas.


(taken by my dad using macro lens)


(Notice the haze?)




It was definitely not the best day for taking photos. The sun was literally nowhere in sight and it was windy and hazy.

The day at Pura Tanah Lot was also strange because there were absolutely no local tourists in sight! We were the only domestic tourists and were surrounded by a bunch of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Europeans, and Australians. It was a blessing not to get mixed up with other domestic tourists because err… you know how Indonesians can be when they travel: loud, littering, smoking, disobeying rules. I think I’ll dedicate a post regarding the matter later.


(As you can see, my sister is pretty happy about the flow of tourists)

Anyway, we went past the kiosks selling souvenirs at Tanah Lot and I happened to find this one old man just sitting and playing flute.


I can’t believe everyone just ignored him. I took a picture of him and just as I was about to say thank you, he offered to put a flower in my hair and so he did. And then we took a picture together.


It’s kind of cool that through the picture taking and all, he didn’t stop playing that flute. What’s more surprising is what it says on the box holding those flowers and another flute: “suka rela” which means “voluntarily”. He didn’t set a price or anything, he was just counting on people’s generosity to give as much money as they would like to give to him. That for me counts for something.

I’m glad that after we all took photos with him, other people started noticing him.

After some snip snap of the cameras of the little there was to see, we headed off even further uphill towards Central Bali to Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.


(Yes, they have a restaurant there)


(Buddhist monument in front of the Hindu temple complex)




(There’s a deer pen by the lake too. I was excited until I saw there was only one stag)


(Guys, you’re missing an interesting photography object here. Guys?)


(Best shot I could get of the temple)

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a temple built on a 12 km-square wide lake. You’re not allowed to enter the temple itself, but you can explore the grounds of the lake and even cycle in one of those duck-shaped pedaled boats (can’t quite find the proper words to describe these things – water cycles?) if visibility is good.

However, due to the fact that the place was up on higher grounds, the weather was incredibly chilly and the cold wind biting into the bones. Mist was moving down towards the ground so visibility wasn’t the best

Heck, visibility was at its worst.



It actually gave the temple quite a mystical aura, having the mist shrouding it. The mist was so thick that at one point the entire temple simply disappeared for a moment.

Even though it was freezing cold, we decided to ride on the roofed boat (Rp152.000/5 people) around the lake. I didn’t take my camera with me because it was a moment worth enjoying without needing to snap some photos.

I would describe that boat ride to be creepy and mystical. I mean, you couldn’t see anything further than about 200 meters from your position and you could only trust that the boat captain would lead you to the right way. There was literally mist surrounding the boat and none of us could predict what’s lurking behind the mist. It was the kind of scene you’d see on monster movies when there’s a lot of mist and then a monster jumps out through the mist. It was that creepy and that unpredictable – which makes it so cool that when you got close enough to land, you could see the sloping landscape and the lush green it actually covered.

The boat will take you to the old Bedugul Wana Villas which appeared to be an abandoned resort. Writing about this place still gives me chills because it was the creepiest place I’ve ever been to. The stone walls were covered in moss here and there, abandoned boats littered the deck and swaying in the wind by itself. There was absolutely no sound – just silence, not even a croak of animal could be heard.

My hands and fingers were freezing in the cold and my neck felt numb but it was an experience worthwhile.

We got back to the safe land and I decided to get a temporary tattoo (Rp25.000 for a small one).


The tattoo artists were cool people, making jokes and all. And they had Scorpions’ Always Somewhere playing in the background. That just made me appreciate them so much.

While waiting for the others to have their tattoo made, I walked around and snapped some photos.


(Old, retired boats)


It started drizzling while I was walking around and the temperature sank even lower. However, I think it was kind of cool that I got to watch this scenery…


turn into this in about an hour’s time.


By the time we were leaving for the hotel, it started pouring. The temperature was described as my dad as “summer heading to fall” temperature in the USA, but for me there was just one word for it: cold cold cold.

Looking back, it was actually kind of fun to be at these places during a cold, cloudy and then rainy day. It was fascinating visiting a place that other people capture for their beauty and awesome sunshine on a day when none of those exists. None of these photos will make it on a postcard depicting these places, that’s for sure. But it was a different angle, a different condition to the settings and I believe it’s an incredibly rare opportunity to see places many have visited in the state where not many would want to visit it. Geddit?

I actually kind of want to visit Kuta on a day like this now. Anyone want to do that too?

You can read about these destinations, get an offline map of them, and learn more about Bali in my Bali for the Family Guidebook App available at Apple App Store.

Bali for the Family

Application created in collaboration with Favoroute. You can learn more about the app here.



3 thoughts on “Those Days You Don’t See on Post Cards

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s