Bali is an amazing island and one of the interesting things about Bali is that although it is touristy, the only places that you will find a lot of tourists, mostly are the places I would avoid if you really want to discover the true Bali.
That's why I want to share with you things to do in Bali off the beaten track, there are different areas in the island that were my favorites, in this occasion I want to focus on Central Bali and Tabanan district. You can see in the below Bali map the green circle.
Angseri hot springs
In the district of Tabanan you will find Angseri Hot Springs, there are two open air pools and 4 small private cabins with room for up to 6 people to enjoy the warmth of the hot springs. The color of the water in green as its composition is full of sulfates and minerals.
The installation is quite new and very clean, showers and toilets are available and there is also a local restaurant called warung just around the corner of the pools. The entrance fee is minimal, less than 1 euro per person, if you are as we were guests of Village above the clouds, the entrance is free.
The place is for locals and we only saw another couple of tourists, do not expect a fancy spa but if you look at the pictures is worth while, relaxing and surrounded by nature.
It is recommended to wear non slippery shoes since you will be walking down the hill and there is a path of stairs so it can be slippery from time to time.
Jatiluwih rice fields, UNESCO Heritage rice fields
Jatiluwih although are UNESCO rice fields it is not one of the top tourists places in Bali. I think people just want the easy way and in Bali if you want to discover nice places you need to work it through their roads that are full of potholes, but the trip is part of the experience.
Jatiluwih are rice fields that are at 700 meters above sea level, the landscape all around you are rice fields, it is quite impressive. The place is just 2 hours from Denpasar, my recommendation is that you take the time and explore Tabanan area for at least two days so you can see everything has to offer. If you are more in a hurry you can always do a day trip and go back to your origin.
I have learnt a lof about rice in Jatiluwih, rice grows in waterlogged paddy fields and has a three month growing cycle. Seeds are sown in a soft field following the traditional method and they are left there for 25 days when they have already formed baby roots.
The baby roots are transplanted into a new paddy field and they are spaced out between each other. They leave the field for three months only taking care to add fertilizer in the first month when the water is kept high, and then in the second and third month is allowed to dry.
At the time to collect it, the rice is three or four feet high, the rice is cut down and the seeds removed. Some grains are used again to be used as seeds in the field. The grains lay out in the sun to dry for three or four days, you can see them all around Bali. Once the rice is dried, the chaff is separated from the kernel, they do it throwing the grain up in the air from around flat bowl. The chaff goes away leaving only the rice.
The Jatiluwih rice is quite special, they sell red, black and white rice, and they are huge differences among them and its origin. The red rice, for example, has remained as it was in ancient times not being manipulated by humans or nature. The red rice survived in the country until 1970's since a devasting rice disease killed most of the red rice.
Since the red rice takes a year to grow, has a much slower growing process, so after the rice disease they started seeding white rice that although has lower nutrient value it is faster to grow, only three months each cycle so they could quadruple their production a year.
Where to stay in Bali: Central Bali, Tabanan district
To visit Tabanan area in Central Bali we stayed at Village above the clouds, asmall eco-boutique hotel in Bali in the middle of nature and rice fields that offers very good customer service, one of the things that I most value.
At Village above the clouds you will enjoy mild mountain weather as it is at 914 meters above the sea level. They couldn't have choosen a better name as it is trully a magic place where you feel surrounded by nature and actually above the clouds.
They believe in Eco-tourism policies and promote responsible travel. They employ local people from the area and also provide them with the opportunity to learn a second language: English.
It is a great area to explore but you need to bear in mind that you either use your own transport -you are able to rent motorbikes at the hotel- or you can hire a car with a driver. We forgot our international driving license at home and since we did not want to have any trouble with the authorities we decided to get a driver -it is also a lot more comfortable-.
The prices go around 500k IDR to 700k IDR per car per day, the more you are in the car, the cheaper it gets and with comfort that you are relaxed on the back of the car and the comings and goings are faster than you doing it on your own since the driver knows the area quite well.
The room at Village above the clouds
We stayed two nights at their sunrise suite, the most exclusive one with a little private swimming pool, the room is made of wood and has an amazing view of the area from its big windows overlooking the rice fields.
The sunrise suite shares with the other suite a space to do yoga, a covered sun deck that has a wooden bench, perfect to sit down and see the hours pass by or observe the stars at night.
The cost of our sunrise suite is 110 euros per night per room with breakfast included and includes the entrance for Angseri Hot Springs. The pool is nice to have it on the room although if you are not in during the day at night, it might be too chilly to swim on it.
What I liked the most is that although is a western kind of hotel has all the Bali essence following their bamboo construction and the materials for the building. They choose a local awarded architect for the construction, Ketut Even the amenities or the special treats are typical from the island, on arrival we were given a delicious green fruit juice while we waited for the information about the hotel and our room keys.
The Village above the clouds has its own climate different from the rest f the island, at night is chilly so get a jacket if you go outside. Rooms do not have air conditioning as it is not needed, the cold air from the mountains already takes the heat off and allows you to sleep comfortably with your blanket on. The bed was incredibly comfortable, this is one of the things I most value in a hotel that you can sleep tight and enjoy your hours of relax after a day exploring the country.
The restaurant at Village above the clouds
One of the things I like the most is food and a restaurant can express a lot of their philosophy on what they offer. The breakfast was complete and there were different choices: yogurt with granola, eggs, pastries, Indonesian breakfast with rice, and a wide selection of smoothies and fruit juices. There is a set breakfast and then if you want any extras you can add them with a fee. My favorites were the granola, is home made and delish you gotta try it, the smoothies added to your breakfast for an extra fee are incredible, I loved the beet root one!
We had a lunch and a couple of dinners at the hotel and the quality of food was very good. For lunch, they have à la carte menu and we went for the Indonesian typical meal and for dinner there is a different set menu every day with Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. The days we ate there for dinner we had Japanese food and Indonesian food, you can choose to have the full menu at 150K IDR (starter, main dish and dessert) or choose which ones to take with their individual price. It is very good value for money, and I have to confess I got quite addicted to Bali white one called Hassen. They even have bravas, as part of their mediterranean touch, the owner is from Spain, and it is good to remember how food taste like at home, the bravas come with allioli sauce, my favorite.
Sareng sami school (which means all together)
The same hotel owner has developed a school named Sareng Sami and they run different projects to help the community such as medical programs, child sponsorship programs, installation of potable water in the town's houses, provide clothes to the most needed in town etc...
If in your stay at the Village you want to participate in the school you can ask if it is possible and see the kids and maybe even teach a lesson -always at the teacher's discretion-f the projects with money or time ask at your arrival. The hotel also has a little shop where everything that is sold in there goes entirely to the school.
They also have a very interesting volunteer program that requires a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of one month to teach at the school if you are accepted into the program.
Disclaimer: we received a media rate at Village above the clouds but as always the opinion is my own.