Our drive to Munduk via Pupuan was absolutely beautiful. The road itself was narrow but recently asphalted and had very little traffic, so was an easy drive because we could drive slowly without trucks constantly overtaking and we could also stop where ever we liked to either take photos or just admire the scenery which was breath taking. Just when you think the vista of terraced rice fields couldn’t get any better, we would come across another valley where the colours were slightly different, the rice was at a different state of harvest or the volcano back drop became even clearer. I just loved having the time to drive slowly and the independence to stop where ever we wanted.
Finding Munduk though wasn’t straightforward. I wonder if this is because most travelers travel here from a northerly direction? I stopped at various warungs along the way, asking for directions and we were usually told to keep going. Outside a primary school, a mother was waiting to collect her daughter and when I asked how much further to Munduk, she pointed back the way we had come and said we had passed the turn off. The only turn off we remembered passing was a tiny street with a small sign saying Denpasar and after checking once more, discovered that this was the way we needed to go. All in all, we only passed one road sign that said ‘Munduk” so it will be very interesting to see on our way to Banjar if the signage improves!
The village of Munduk is built on a ridge and from both sides of the road you can look down into deep valleys lined with clove trees. In fact the entire vista in Munduk is rows and rows of clove trees with rice fields only at the very bottom.
Our hotel is called Taman Ayu and is right on the main road. As the main road straddles a ridge, to get from the main road to the hotel, there is a very steep narrow driveway, too steep and too narrow for the car which was parked at the top of the drive way on the road side with the wing mirror folded up against the body of the car. Our hotel room, which seems to have been built recently, is the highest point of the hotel and here it is from the road:
The little orange room to the left of the building with the green roof was our room! Can you imagine the view that greeted us each morning?
We were so high up, we looked out across the valley which is gorgeous and then we looked down below us and could feel immediate vertigo! The slope of the valley is so steep, that the ground beneath the verandah was lower than the bottom floor of the hotel! The adjoining restaurant also has a beautiful view and our breakfast of bubur ijin (black rice pudding) & Bali coffee was doubly enjoyable with the ever changing view as the sun rises. Interestingly, other breakfast choices here are: kolak (banana cooked in palm sugar syrup), pisang rai (batter covered banana covered in grated coconut- boiled not fried), banana pancake or pisang goreng (fried battered banana). This is the first hotel I have ever stayed at where the breakfast choices are almost all (except for banana pancakes) are local dishes. As they are all served warm, it is perfect in the fresh morning mountain air.
Bubur Injin & Kolak
My only grumble about this hotel is that our fantastic hotel room is level with the main road and at night as we are trying to sleep, we hear every vehicle that passes. I would recommend finding a homestay further off the main road for anyone who planning on visiting Munduk and expecting peace and quiet! The traffic noise was definitely the worst aspect, but another interesting noise we discovered was the morning rooster chorus. Starting around 4am, it seemed as though every rooster in the entire valley joined in the crowing competition, some with drawn out crowing, some with deep warbling crowing and a few with more of a turkey gobble than a crow! Really gives you an idea of just how many thousands of roosters must live in the valley!
On our first afternoon in Munduk, we followed the path that begins right next to Taman Ayu down to Meliteng Waterfall. Once again, we missed the turnoff to the falls so the return walk was much quicker! The track was partly concreted and partly a narrow dirt track and at all times except for right down at the falls, was through the clove plantation. Dotted amongst the clove trees were banana palms, cacao trees, and the odd coconut tree. Surprisingly, it was very dry and as we zig zagged down to the valley floor, we crossed many times a hose which was being used to water some of the trees. Along the edges of the path, plants were wilting so it seems as though it has been a while since it last rained. The waterfalls surprisingly, had a decent amount of water coming over the edge
We then headed off to find the banyan tree recommended by the reception staff. The map showed that the turn off was just passed the market. We drove right through Munduk and had just come to the conclusion that we had passed the market when we came to Kubu Kopi -a coffee plantation, specialising in kopi luwak (luwak coffee). We parked the car and climbed the steep steps to investigate. At the top, we discovered a beautifully set out area for visitors to sit while trying the selection of tea and coffees available. We were given a sample of Bali coffee, Bali tea and cocoa
and after trying them we ordered a coffee with spices and tea with ginger and cinnamon. Both were absolutely delicious. Afterwards, we were given a complimentary tour of the mini plantation by the lovely Indah, an appropriate name for someone who works in such a beautiful part of the world. The tour was excellent. It began with an explanation of how the luwak coffee is made. The droppings of the noctural civets under the coffee trees are collected while fresh. They are then laid out to dry
and then are cleaned before being roasted and finally they are ground. A caged civet was there too for tourists to see. He wasn’t very happy to be disturbed while sleeping.
We then walked around the small plot of trees and we were shown a salak palm just beginning to fruit (and it fruits just like palm oil), vanilla creepers climbing clove tree trunks, clove trees, a ‘daun’ salam tree, cinnamon trees, galangal, tumeric just to mention a few. While a small garden, our tour took almost an hour because it was so interesting. Indah was very informative and we loved being able to pick leaves to smell them. Clove and cinnamon leaves are so aromatic although surprisingly the daun salam leaf was not! Our tour finished at the back gate where we came across the ‘boss’ roasting fish sate for a ceremony. When we were offered one, I encouraged Marg to try one as I know that sate bought on the street will taste nowhere near as delicious as the ones made for ceremonies. I was delighted when I also was offered one. The sate was made from fresh water fish, chili, coconut, garlic, onion and salt. This mixture had been ground together and was then squashed thinly along a thin firm sate stick cut from the trunk of a coconut palm. ‘Delicious’ hardly does it credit! It was the perfect ending to a lovely impromptu roadside stop.
Back in the car we continued on to Gesing, the next village, where again after passing it several times, we finally came across the most enormous banyan tree I have ever seen.
It would be perfect for climbing, for making cubbies, and for just sitting under, but here in Bali, large banyan trees are sacred. To play in them or climb them is disrespectful and therefore not allowed. This tree looks like it is at least 500 years old. I asked a young girl later how old it was and her answer was, “It must be really old because it was already there when my grandmother was born”!
It is now time to say goodbye to Munduk and head off to Banjar. Overall, I have loved the scenery here and the walks too have been fantastic, (even though with the mountains, every walk included very steep climbs or hundreds of steps!).