Living in Indonesia, I have visited Bali since elementary school. It was not that often, but before that trip in 2019 (which I am about to share in this blog), I had visited Bali for about five times in the span of 15 years. Each time I visited Bali, I went to new place and had a new experience. However, so often I saw beautiful places of in Instagram and I was surprised that it was actually located in Bali. It gave me the feel of missing out so much.
It was probably had to do with Instagram influencer booming since around 2013, where many people share their post of places they visit, gain followers and creating image of the freedom life of travellers. Through this post-and-view, and interaction on instagram, great places around the globe found easily, which later promote tourism and travel to a broader scale.
Of course, with the increasing tourists, old places gained new popularity, got refurbished and improved in an attempt no other than to attract more and more tourists. There is even such term as “Instagrammable”, a place that is somewhat beautiful or eye-catching that it’s worth posting on the Instagram to gain followers. Locals rallied to create new attractions that is “instagrammable”. That is probably why I got so flustered when people asked me whether or not I had visited Bali before, and I answered yes but none of places they mentioned rang in my head.
At 2017, an island 45 minutes boat ride from Bali Gained popularity. It’s Nusa Penida. I had never heard of this place before during my previous trips to Bali, but Instagram posts of this place constantly appear on my Instagram feed. That is why I decided to visit Bali (and Nusa Penida) – again, on 19-23 June 2019. Out of 4 days in Bali, me and my friend spent 1 day to explore eastern Bali, 2 days in Nusa Penida, and 1 day in mainland bali dedicated to do the water sports. This blog focuses on one day exploring eastern Bali.
Since I had only one day, I decided to rent a car/tour for me and my friend. So, I searched in Airbnb experience that offer both driver/guide and a car and found this package deals.
At that time, it cost USD 40 per pax (and additional 30 USD if going solo). It’s a private tour and does not include entrance fee. The tour started at 4:30 am and the duration is 10 hours. However, we got up late and it took much longer than it should. The agent has four type of tour, and one of the tour name was Instagram Tour. It focuses on places that is often appears on instagram around eastern Bali.
The Places we go
I think this spot is a bonus. We were not supposed to go here, but we passed it, so the guide/driver decided to make a quick stop. The weather was great and the morning breeze from the sea bring such a great air to start the day. We walked a bit along the shoreline and found this small hut and took picture at it. This place is perfect for sunrise.
We arrived at this place after 45 minutes drive. This place was a shock! I did not remember how many times I saw temple gate reflected perfectly by water (or at least that was what I assume). When I arrived, the place was already packed. It was packed because of too many people queuing to take picture In between the famous “gate”. And what is more surprising is that the reflection is man-made! Surprise!
I thought that there was a pool or lagoon in front of the gate that helped perfectly mirroring the gate. Turned out it was a piece of mirror places right exactly below the camera lense (a trick) so as to make the gate is reflected. And to my amusement, there is this guy that own the mirror and tag a place right in front of the gate. That long queue is queue of people who wanted to be taken picture by this guy (who own this tools) and paid him.
Me and my friend queued for about 2 hours before got our pictures taken by this guy. If I’m not mistaken, I paid 25,000 IDR (around 1,8 USD). The photo session itself only last for around 2 minutes (but the queue was 2 hours!). In picture below, the left is the situation at Lempuyang temple. The guy with umbrella has a mirror. He will have your picture taken (using your mobile phone) while putting a mirror below your phone’s lense for some amount of money.
Tirta Gangga Garden Pool
I knew this place has been there along time ago. However, it has become sensational quite recently. Our guide told me that the number of visitors nowadays very different with what it was. People flocked to the ponds to take their picture taken with the giant fish floating around and the fountain in the background.
Tirta Gangga used to be a royal water palace and bathing pools. This is now both pool and garden. Aside from the maddening crowd, Tirta Gangga is really beautiful and exude peaceful atmosphere. What more amazing to watch is the seemingly huge fish in the pond. Before entering the garden, make sure you purchase the fish food. If you are interested in taking picture with the fish in it, the fish food help to gather some fish around you. I knew this trick from our guide 😉
This place is also packed, and it’s not easy to move around. In the middle of the pool are stepping stones and everyone was trying to get picture with the fish with no one else around (which is impossible unless you get there very early). And around you is the water, so you may want to watch your step to avoid falling into the pool.
We were supposed to go to Tegalalang rice terrace, but since we took some time waiting at Lempuyang, our guide said we wouldn’t be able to go there. However, our lunch place was in a restaurant which has a rice terraces as background. So, that was more than we could do to make up our missed opportunity at Tegalalang Rice Terrace. This place has a swing as well, but we decided to try it at the other place.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall
This waterfall is actually within low lighted cave, and again, we had to queue to just to get to the center of the waterfall, and it’s hard to swim or enjoy the waterfall itself since the queue is very long. At that time, I was just thinking that we visited the place just to score some pictures, which is quite ironic. I did, want to get picture, but I also wanted to enjoy the attractions as well. But with those crowd, it was not easy.
Agro Santi Coffee Plantation
This place has both Coffee and Tea plantation, including luwak coffee. They showed us how to produce Coffee Luwak and introduced us to their coffee and tea samples. Some of those tea were seasoned and it tasted wonderful. There were pandanus tea, rosella tea, Mangosteen tea, Ginger tea, lemon grass tea, Bali Spice Tea, Bali Cocoa, Bali Vanilla Coffee, Mocha Coffee, Ginseng Coffee, and Coconut Coffee.
I thought after doing skydive and bungee jumping, it would be easy to take the swing. However, my heart was almost at my throat everytime they put a swing on me. To be very vivid, The swing is placed on the edge (obviously to add the thrill, but also yess, the view of the green terraces was amazing – but who would notice them when your life lay before your eyes?!) and those who take the swing will wear body harness tied into the swing seat. And then, 2 or 3 guys will pull you inward, before altogether push and throw a full swing towards the edge.
Also, to add the thrill, they will try to catch the swing when going inward and pushing it again outward over and over for about 6 or 7 times. Even as I am writing this, I can still feel how I felt back then. How I closed my eyes and clutched tightly to vertical rope and wish the swing did not throw me into the abyss. I Somehow did not trust the swinging guys as well, so it was added to my fear.
The price for the swing was 150,000 IDR (it is expensive). And you can have two ride where on the first ride you can sit facing the terrace (forward), and on the second you can choose to sit backward (facing the swinger). On my second swing, I told the swinger not to pull swing hard on me, just a light one for the sake of photo. Very.Ironic. You should see my expression on my first full swing. Gold!
After Bali Swing, we went back to our hotel and welcomed by Traffic jam in Denpasar. We arrived at our hotel around 8 pm. In my opinion, of all those places I visited that day, some of them were there for quite some time but gained popularity recently (Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Lempuyang Temple, Tirta Gangga). But, some are new (Bali Swing). Thanks to travel influencer these places are now famous and crowded with tourist.
Ironically, with these overwhelming visitors, I cannot enjoy the place thoroughly. In addition to that, more time are spent to be in just one place due to long queue of visitors. It also has become a “take photo and leave” kind of holiday. Spending some time on landmarks/places of interest was not comfortable due to overwhelming visitors. But, at the same time i wanted to memorize and take picture anyway.
I did find my joyous and happy moment during this trip. After all, these places are truly gems of Bali and really worth visiting. However, queueing is not something to look at on any holiday.
Tips: If you want to have the place to yourself, come early ahead of everyone else