At the sound of Bali, a few words instantly pops up – surfing, massage, culture, mystic, rice fields, babi guling, shopping and the list goes on. With so much to do and only 8 days to explore, it was an impossible feat. So we set out to do just what a holiday is meant to be – rest, relax and stumble on finds wherever our feet (or in this case) our bike takes us.
We arrived after sundown to a chaotic airport filled with touts offering taxi services. Rescued quickly by our driver, we were whisked away into a private car and off to Candidasa, east of Bali. Shocked by the change in atmosphere, we checked into our resort with a symphony of crickets and the gentle lapping of waves to greet us. Quiet. Stillness. Almost to the point of eeriness.
Originally Candidasa was a small fishermen’s village quietly tucked away from the limelight of Kuta, Denpasar and Sanur. Now this sleepy village is a well-known stopover for divers who are heading to Padang Bai, Amed or Tulamen. Dotted along the streets are cafes, restaurants, homestays, beauty parlours and local gerai’s (stalls).
We wasted no time in exploring the village, heading up to Amlapura the capital of Karangasem district. Buzzing with life, the local market is a must see. Vendors, fisherman, craftsmen and farmers display their items in baskets, trays and wooden planks. Children sit around twiddling their fingers or helping to sell an item or two. Tiny potholes fill the market floors creating little puddles of germ infested water, fish flopping frantically in shallow pails and meats hanging on hooks are all a norm in Asian markets. We bee lined pass the local crowd and quickly made our exit.
Biking past paddy fields and rolling hills, we arrived at Taman Ujung, a dated floating palace where the late King of Karangasem and his family lived. Literally elevated on a platform, the entire complex sits on stilts where water runs below. Royal pools adorn top of the palace overlooking a stunning sight of water and greens. Dainty huts along the platforms serve as shed. We basked in the splendor of ancient where Balinese women adorned in their sleek kebaya like dresses walk around this compound as servants or maidens of the king. A certain mystique lingers on.