West Bali Delights

by Travel Paulie on May 29, 2010

Last week I wrote about my eastward Bali pilgrimage and just how much I loved it.  In a similar vein, I spent my final 2~3 days on the island travelling to and from, and staying in, West Bali and just as with the East, I highly recommend it as a place to visit if you go to Bali.

[Update 30-05-2010] This article is the 3rd part of basic 3-part series on Bali: South, East, & West.  The 1st and 2nd installments are:

Not your typical tourist destination

I’d guess that 95% of the tourists that come to Bali barely make it further than Ubud if they even make it that far.  They have everything they came for provided in Kuta and Seminyak, or perhaps south in Uluwatu and Jimbaran.  Rarely, except in the diving resort towns, did I see any foreign tourists either in east or especially west Bali.  I guess this comes down to infrastructure and convenience since getting to and from these places can be a little arduous.  But the payoff is well worth the efforts to get there.

West Bali didn’t seem quite a luscious as the east and that is perhaps due to less rainfall there, but they do have a fairly massive National Park into you which you can explore.  On the Saturday we drove into the park near the point where they have the Bali Starling reserve and headed south/south-west towards 2 of the temples situated along the coast.  Now that road is arduous and it took approximately 1hr to make the ~12km journey.  Not recommended.

There are also trekking opportunities (that I never undertook) within the park, but it is strictly with the accompaniment of a guide or park ranger who require a “donation”.  I asked why this was the case and was told basically, “Er, it’s our national park and we need to preserve it.”, but the cynic in me just couldn’t help point out (to myself) that it isn’t foreign tourists who are the real threat to the bird’s future – at one point they were down to 6 remaining birds in 2001!  Anyway, the Starling population is on the way back so all’s well that end’s well – the same can’t be said about the Bali tiger.

Part of the national park also includes a marine sanctuary, but where exactly that is was never clear to me.  I believe it included the small island just northeast of the park to which you can take diving and snorkeling excursions typically arranged from Permuteran.  As with the starlings it comes a bit late after the cyanide and dynamite “fishing” of yester-year, but better late than never.

Bali and religion

Bali is an island in Indonesia.  Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world but the predominant (93%) religion practiced in Bali is a form of Hindu – Agama Hindu Dharma.  However, Christianity does exist here also and part of my trip west brought me to a place that was oddly the closest feeling to being “at home” as I’ve felt at any stage of my travels so far.  I can’t quite figure out why exactly, but it did.  It might have been the Christian (Roman Catholic) influence in the area, whatever that means, but I just don’t know.

As we drove along the streets here, one thing stood out as being very different in its “urban planning” than any other town/village in Bali.  Normally, you have the road that carves its way through the village.  On either side of the road is the “got”, or the drainage system, and then immediately beside/on/overhanging this ‘got’ you have the house/shop/building.  Here, in Blimbingsari, the order was: road – 4ft grass lawn – ‘got’ – (optional pavement) – building.

So what?  It makes a HUGE difference in the feel of a place.  Normally houses and shops are practically hanging into the street or over the drains, but here, there was a peaceful separation between the roads and everyday life.  Strange, but the difference really struck me and it holds in my memory as one of the nicest places I’ve ever visited in Bali.

The Christian church in Blimbingsari was also very cool.  A real fusion between the Balinese/Hindu and an open-plan christian church.  It was really very nice and I recommend if you go through west Bali that you take the detour out into this area.  In another part of town was a second church, but this looked much more Western, with just a reminder of Balinese architecture.  Not far from this church was a graveyard that was again one of the most peaceful and pleasant places on the island.  For me.  I’m not a religious person, and I don’t believe my experience here was spiritual but rather one that came from a feeling of well-being that existed in the community itself.  Nearly 100% of the people passing by would greet us with smiles and “hello”, some would stop to chat also and there was very little gawking.  Nice.

Going West from the south

It’s very straight forward to get there from the south.  Head north for Tabanan and go through it, following the signs for Gilimanuk.  It’s highly recommended that you don’t take the southern coastal route as it’s filled with trade-traffic heading to and and from Java as there’s a port in Gilimanuk.  Instead, follow signs for Pupuan and you’ll hit a beautiful road with awesome scenery that takes you eventually to the north coast of the island.  Once you hit Seririt, turn left / head west and eventually you’ll come to Permuteran.  Here you’ll find a heap of accommodation options, starting from about Rp200,000 per night.

I stayed in Man’s Homestay.  I like this for several reasons.  Firstly it’s locally owned – a husband and wife saved up and created a small outfit of 3~4 bungalows set in a very spacious garden looking up onto the mountains of the national park.  It’s very nice.  The service is personal and family run which is always preferable over conveyor belt style outfits that squeeze as many bungalows into their space as possible.  It’s new, and so it’s very clean.

If you want very cheap, right opposite Man’s is a lane that leads to ‘Kubucu’ that starts at Rp80,000/night.  I haven’t seen the rooms so I can’t make any comments about the place, but if it’s budget you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.

Most points referred to in this article are on my Travel Map, or at least will be.  If you’ve visited West Bali or have any comments or questions, please use the section below.  Any and all feedback is most welcome.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

roz July 22, 2010 at 10:24

The village of Blimbingsari is a Protestant village, with the beautiful church you describe situated at the centre of the cross-shaped village/streets. Perhaps the vast church you describe (gothic meets Bali?!) is in the nearby Catholic village of Palasari? The government gave this once jungle-covered and mosquit0-disease-ridden land to the christians back mid-last-century to get them out of the way from everywhere else in Bali…. So the very poor people ended up being moved to their own land (after they’d cleared it!) and they will tell you a modern-day Exodus story of how they came to be there and their desire to be a ‘light and a bless to the world’ in return! Furthermore, that church is very generous in giving to help others, even out of their own poverty. The 7 orphanages run by the Bali Protestant church (1 is in Blimbingsari, 1 in Melaya nearby) help children and families in financial difficulty from all religions not just Christian.

You’ll be pleased to know that the turtle-hatchery is in the Permuteran area, Reef Seen, but it does take a LOT of effort to find. but worth supporting. Also, you can stay there now – http://www.reefseenbali.com/bali-activities-others.asp. Regards, and nice to hear someone who loves my favourite home-away-from-home in West Bali.


Paul Goodchild July 22, 2010 at 13:51

Hey Roz,

Thanks for the correction. We were following maps, and following our noses half the time, so I’ll update the article with the correct information.

I can tell there must be a huge amount of work done in the area and I figured it was the church stimulating that. I’m learning in Asia that for all faults I can find with institutionalized religion and their agendas, being an institution affords it a certain degree of power and positive influence for change and improvement.

Great tips on the turtle-hatchery and I’m disappointed I didn’t get to see it. But there will be other times, I’m sure 🙂 The link is also very helpful. Thank you!


Angie Ong November 7, 2014 at 08:24

Hi Paul, that’s some nice writing here.
Thanks a lot for mentioning the ‘urban planning’ part.
Actually, the traditional Balinese irrigation system (subak) is UNESCO heritage classified, and it’s one of the things that makes Bali what it is.

I’ve always felt that going away from Kuta/Sanur/Seminyak was the way to go, not just to see the landscape but also to realize that all this beauty is in need of preservation…



Angie Ong November 7, 2014 at 08:30

“I think the majority of natives take some time out with their families to for the numerous rituals and ceremonies that constitute this holiday period.”

You’re spot on. Actually, ceremonies are all powerful clocks to the Balinese society and completely rhythm the life style on the island. It might be difficult to perceive on your first trip, since they make a lot of effort to integrate it with their work, but once you get a couple of local friends and learn about it, it all makes a lot of sense.

Also, Candidasa 🙁
I share you opinion, this is a sad place. Prefer Tulamben or Amed, or just continue to Lovina 🙂


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