Jatiluwih Rice Terraces photo Ooaworld

Bali Road Trip, Indonesia, Video, Photos, Writing

Here’s the multimedia story and itinerary of our Bali Road Trip, from Kuta to Tanah Lot, then through Jatiluwih Rice Terraces and Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, up to Lovina Beach, then back south through Besakih Mother Temple: featuring life philosophy video interviews, as well as photos (photo gallery at the bottom of the article) and the written story.

Bali, Indonesia, Surf ‘n’ Turf

Visitors to Bali – those who come on the plane – are greeted with a taste of the island from their first steps into Bali’s airport as they walk past a bay window peeking onto a preserved, or reconstructed, Balinese Hindu temple.

From there, and after a hefty, mandatory entry fee, a short drive through temple-riddled streets, narrow by the thousands, brings the dazzled tourist to the wave-washed shores of Kuta Beach and Legian (click the photo to view photos from Kuta and Legian).

Balinese Grandmother Baby

Slumber dreamlessly during our first hours of Balinese paradise.

South Bali: Kuta Beach, Legian, Tanah Lot Temple

We’re dropped off north of Kuta, in quieter, adjacent Legian, on the Billabong-washed main street, full of Quicksilver logos, surfing and diving gear, board shorts and bong shops. Our hotel comes complete with an actual lobby; of modern build and recently decorated, we’re taken to a fully furnished room of good standing, with clean white sheets and fluffy comforters, a double set of pillows…

Slumber dreamlessly during our first hours of Balinese paradise.

Besakih Mother Temple Alley Bali photo Ooaworld

 We return at night, walking along the beach. The clubs roar loud and soulless.

Afternoon, wander through aisles of flower-colored T-shirts and board shorts, intrigued by very public adverts for magic mushrooms, past the imposing club-hotels that line the beach. Change our currency at a respectable banking establishment, weary of the lure of seemingly too attractive currency exchange rates propose by each and every souvenir shop and deli (more on this later).

Get our first taste of local food, cheap and flavorful, in a posh setting. (Mie Goreng – glorified fried rice, the first of many…) Relieved to deal with seemingly less crooked businessmen – shops and restaurants are on the cheap side despite the many tourists and developed infrastructure, perhaps their profit margins are lesser too?

I rent a shortboard and try myself on the Balinese surf. Coco watches amusedly from the beach. I eat it a few times and gasp for breath. I’m way out of shape.

We return at night, walking along the beach. The clubs roar loud and soulless.



Next morning. Breakfast on the rooftop, coffee mugs, eggs and butter. Morning offerings (colorful flowers sprinkled on rice grains in a napkin-sized banana-leaf basket – how many pounds of rice are thus offered to the gods, daily?) splayed upon the sidewalks and at every corner, on the threshold of every shop.

Traditionally, the day’s first sale is a sign of good luck: early bird gets the cheaper worm. But the bargaining bird is still your best chance.


Despite Kuta’s undeniable appeal to the holiday-craving vacationer, I’m eager to discover the other treasures of the island – which is also bigger than I’d expected. Ask around for some car rentals till I find an honest-looking intermediary. The prices are attractive, deceptively so: $20 per day.

Parse through the potential loopholes related to car rentals in less-than-regulated regions: (intentional) theft, car damage, bodily accidents, flat tires or sudden repairs, and so on.

At my request, he drafts an ‘insurance policy’. Force him to sign the hand-drafted piece of paper which I’m pretty sure offers no legal security, but qualms my worries. This hikes up the bill, which remains attractive, especially considering this might save us a night or two at the hotel.

“This doesn’t protect you if you hit someone else.” I ponder, mulling over the possibility of being thrown in an Indonesian jail, and sign.

Click the photo to view photos from Tanah Lot Temple during Full Moon Celebrations

Tanah Lot Moon Celebration photo Ooaworld

The beat of the drums pounds through the lips of the ocean air.

The first hour of driving is ruthlessly stressful, and it takes nearly that long to make it out of Kuta’s maze of streets and traffic, avoiding bicycles, scooters, trucks and pedestrians ceaselessly thrown haphazardly onto the road, seemingly pouring from the skies.

Add to that the stress of driving stick on the left-hand side, as well as narrow streets made even more treacherous by the presence of deep-ditched open sewers edging the road, and this feels like vacation.

With no GPS but a handful of Google Maps screenshots taken in advance, Coco valiantly co-pilots us through the marred labyrinth of nameless streets, till we reach Tanah Lot, the famed Land Sea Temple late in the afternoon. Lucky to witness a special ceremony (full moon rite) which happens once very 210 days, white-clad pilgrims circling in prayer and devotion. The beat of the drums pounds through the lips of the ocean air.


Sun sets. I’m unwilling to drive too long in the night on these unknown roads – we’ve planned to make it up north the next day, visiting the rice terraces of Jatiluwih, a temple or two, and the northern coast.

A little later, somewhere, pull into the parking lot of a KFC, lured by the promise of Wifi (necessary to complete our screenshot-itinerary of the island). I’m reminded of the times of ooAmerica, crashing in the lots of Walmarts and Mickie D’s…

I look at Coco, lovingly.

“This is how it’s done.” I smile ironically, but not without a sincere tinge of bliss. My, what a gal.


Bali Road Trip Video and Interview

Watch the video on Youtube and on Facebook


Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Lovina Beach, Mount Batur, Besakih Mother Temple

After a rough-ish but altogether peaceful night in the car, a coffee and frittered KFC breakfast, accompanied by some screenshots of maps, we’re off.

Getting more comfortable with the car and Bali roads, turning the radio up and reveling in the road-trip, ooamerica style, V-Rally through fields and mountain roads. Swing by Jatiluwih’s rice terraces, then the temple of Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Temple on the Water).

 Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Color Umbrellas photo Ooaworld

Bali’s spiritual past, as felt from the first step off the plane, pervades its present: temples and traditional architecture sprawl about both cities and countryside (a lot of it being, albeit, mass-produced industrially).

An aside: Bali is undoubtedly special, both in its look and feel. As such, its culture is modestly representative of Indonesia as a whole (think Hawaii and the United States, Great Britain and the European Union, or Hong-Kong and China).

Indonesia stands as the world’s most populous Muslim country, and one of its most religious (with over 90% of the population affiliated to one of the main faiths) – Bali however is predominantly Hindu-Buddhist.

Bali’s spiritual past, as felt from the first step off the plane, pervades its present: temples and traditional architecture sprawl about both cities and countryside (a lot of it being, albeit, mass-produced industrially).

Though we’ve visited our share of divine sanctums since the beginning of our travels, realize wondrously the great importance that religious rites, ceremonies and temples (still) have in the daily life of Indonesians – and the vast majority of the world, an easily forgotten fact when living in the increasingly atheistic societies of the ‘West’.


As evening approaches, we begin the descent towards the northern coast and the romantically named Lovina Beach, only to discover a muddy tourist trap: promises of black sand beaches replaced by dark expanses of waste, open sewage canals conveying the hotels’ litter straight into the sea.

Soon as we’re parked, a vendor offers personally hand-made trinkets, which look astonishingly similar. Within ten minutes, a few others have tried and failed to sell us identical ‘handmade’ souvenirs.

The only trace of dolphins (supposedly visible at dawn) is a stone sculpture at the foot of a flagpole sadly swaying in the wind.

Lovina Beach Dolphin Statue photo Ooaworld

As we stroll upon the beach, I jump over one of the sewage canals, only to sink into the quick sands. Dig myself out but my sandal is irretrievably lost. Thus we walk, I barefoot, to various shops. Something about shoes and their symbolism – this is the second pair I’ve lost in the matter of weeks.

After an inconclusive beer at one of the desolately empty bars, and despite our original intent to spend the night here, the rapidly darkening skies, as well as accumulated fatigue, Coco and I decide to pick up the wheel and drive into the night.

 The road turns and twists, the night is whole, and as we ascend slithers of mist begin to form

Up, up the mountain. Lone lights and tired shacks appear from time to time. Stop by to slurp some coffee. The road turns and twists, the night is whole, and as we ascend slithers of mist begin to form, building up till they fog the entire windshield. We’re accident-prone. Fortunately, we come by a sleepy village. Park on a side road overlooking the dark valley. A dog barks. The air is cold. We wrap ourselves in whatever clothes we can find.

Mount Batur Village View Bali photo Ooaworld

Dawn of the Gods. An orange-pink sliver cuts through the freezing air. The silhouette of a Hindu temple set against the blue-ing skies. Followed by the chant of an imam, coming from a mosque hidden in the darkness.

And thus are gradually revealed the valleys overlaid with golden clouds, Mount Batur tranquilly rising in the distance. Wave at the lady sweeping her threshold, as is customary every morning throughout the island, who looks curiously at the parked rental car.

A lone tourist comes puttering with his motorbike. Rebel-type. We pursue our route: through woods and thickets overlooking valleys and mountains, lush fields colored with flowers. A wandering priestess motions us to stop on the side of the road. Before we can utter a word, she’s dipped her fingers in holy water, splashed our faces, tacked a dot onto our foreheads and sprinkled some grains of rice.

Five on Scooter Bali Indonesia photo Ooaworld

Her benediction is free

Her benediction is free. I can’t remember if she expects a monetary return. Nor do I remember if we give it to her. But thus prepared, we continue our drive to Bali’s most revered place of worship, the Mother Temple of Besakih.

Droves of pilgrims arrive as we do to celebrate the end of the Moon rite. We’re forced through a street full of shops and religious trinkets and offerings, reminiscent of Kyoto. Wander around the temple grounds, watch a priest meditating cross-legged, till we’re gently, but decisively, asked to leave the premises. We have yet to invest in a sarong.

 Besakih Mother Temple Bali Women photo Ooaworld

We’re beat to the bone by two nights in the car; minds crowded with the sliding scenery…

The drive back to Kuta is long and treacherous, challenges renewed: driving on the left-hand side, Venetian streets narrow to the inch, mingling through the weave of trucks, bikes, pedestrians and cars all fighting for their rights.

But at long last we arrive, in one piece. I’m relieved. I wasn’t looking forward to have to use the so-called ‘insurance’. We’re beat to the bone by two nights in the car; minds crowded with the sliding scenery…

There’s a bus to Ubud, our next stop, in a few minutes. We’re on the run, again.

Watch the video, view the photos from Kuta, Tanah Lot, Ubud and read the full story from Ubud and check out the travel tips from our visit and road trip in Bali, Indonesia !

4 Responses

  1. February 3, 2015

    […] Jatiluwih Rice Terraces: Entrance fee is 15,000Rp (<USD $1.5o) per person. The rice terraces are truly breathtaking and worth the two-hour drive from Kuta. You would most likely hire a driver or go with a tour if you are not driving yourself to the rice terraces (which we did! Check out the video here). […]

  2. February 5, 2015

    […] the story, watch the video, view the photos from Kuta and Tanah Lot photos, and check out the travel tips […]

  3. February 7, 2015

    […] more photos from Ubud, read the story, watch the video, view the photos from Kuta and Tanah Lot, and check out the travel tips from our […]

  4. February 7, 2015

    […] the story, watch the video, view the photos from Kuta, Tanah Lot,  Ubud and the full Ubud story, and check […]

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Hi, I’m ooa revo. I like to create using different media including Film, Photos, Writing, Animation, Videos, Drawings, Painting, Poetry, newer media such as XR/AR/VR/360, and more! Many stories and work on OOAworld are inspired by world travels, as well as a Movie / Documentary asking people I met along the road: "What's your philosophy in life?" Follow the adventure on OOAworld and social media or by signing up to email updates!