Canggu Diaries: Seeking out Bali’s Unesco Heritage Sites

In this post:

  • Bloopers video in Jatiluwih
  • Itinerary (flexible!)
  • Impulsive cycling through the rice terraces + other adventure options
  • Tanah Lot temple + market shopping
  • DON’T BUY CIVET / LUWAK COFFEE

Unesco chasers

Since it was Joyce’s first time in Bali, and I hadn’t properly checked out the island’s Unesco Heritage Sites before, we thought a whole day going through the major ones was in order.

The weather was unfortunately not cooperating with us, but we didn’t care. I even ended up cycling in a long dress – something I never plan on doing again. It was so stupidly difficult I don’t even know if the nice photos were worth it 😂

Before I launch into a full review of this tour by Trip Guru, here’s a blooper video of us that day:

(I was supposed to make a proper video, but we kept getting distracted and I ended up with a roll full of silly sisterly antics)

The itinerary

08.30am: Pick-up at hotel

09.30am: Arrive at first UNESCO site (Royal Water temple of Pura Taman Ayun) – It was so rainy we hardly have a decent photo

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The temple was built circa 1634 by the then-ruler of the Mengwi kingdom, Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan, with Chinese architectural inspirations (Source)
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Taman Ayun temple is bordered by broad canals and can only be entered via a bridge leading to a richly ornamented candid bentar, the gate which gives access to the outer courtyard (jaba) (Wonderful Bali)

The cultural landscape of Bali consists of five rice terraces and their water temples that cover 19,500 ha. The temples are the focus of a cooperative water management system of canals and weirs, known as subak, that dates back to the 9th century. (Unesco)

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The 18th-century Royal Water Temple of Pura Taman Ayun [is] the largest and most impressive architectural edifice of its type on the island. (Unesco)
10.30am: Visit Coffee Luwak Plantation  – Skipped this one. I don’t drink coffee. See the end of this post for my rant against luwak / civet coffee production (!)

12.00pm: Pura Ulun Danu Beratan Temple – Skipped this one. We had already gone to Pura Ulun Danu Beratan when we did the Waterfalls Hike. I actually think this lakeside complex is much more beautiful (setting-wise) than Taman Ayun.

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The “Pura Bratan” temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains. Water temples serve the entire region in the outflow area (Wiki)

12.30pm: Lunch at Pura Ulun Danu Beratan – Skipped

13.30pm: Finish lunch – Skipped

14.30pm: Visit the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces – We had lunch here instead, overlooking the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces! It was beautiful, although not the best cuisine in Indonesia. One thing you MUST order over here, though: Coconuts!

During lunch, we saw some people cycling through the terraces, which sparked a lightbulb moment. We had to do it, too.

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Of course, I was wearing the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to wear when mounting a bicycle.
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“Bikes for rent?” a scuzzy local guide leered at us as he read the signs. “For rent also…?” Read more about the realities of traveling as an Asian woman
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Trekking map through the rice terraces

Cycling through the rice fields suddenly became something we couldn’t not do! Unfortunately, the only bikes we were able to get our hands on were city bikes that had ZERO GRIP. We put in a good workout that afternoon struggling up and down the dirt paths without functional gear.

Next time, since we obviously want something more adventurous, we’re looking at doing dirt biking around Batur volcano or off-roading / quad biking through the countryside. OR just getting better bicycles 😅

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Lush landscape with Indonesian scarecrows
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Native wares for sale on the road
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Hindu shrines dot the countryside
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Located at ~700m above sea level, the journey up to these highlands from the main southern areas takes around 2 hrs. Full-day tour itineraries usually include Jatiluwih as a main attraction alongside other prominent highlights within the region, such as Batukaru Temple and the Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest nearby, together with the picturesque Tanah Lot sea temple at the end of the day, just in time for the striking sunset backdrops and dinner shows. (Bali-Indonesia.com)

15.30pm: Leave Jatiluwih

16.45pm: View the sunset at Tanah Lot Temple

18.30pm: Drive back to hotel

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The entrance to Tanah Lot, which is preceded by a large market selling a plethora of goods from Balinese local crafts to branded surf outlet gear. “Temple shopping,” we heard someone say. “More temple than shopping!”
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Personally I thought there were too many people…
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Last photo before the sun set. Scowling at the camera…

Finally, before I end, I want to flag a couple of disturbing things I saw at Tanah Lot Temple market and during our waterfall trek: CAGED LUWAKS. I’m not going to post an actual photo here because it’s extremely disturbing but we were horrified to see these animals taken out of their habitat and cruelly displayed in a public space, for tourists to ogle at.

Kopi luwak is made from coffee beans plucked from civets’ feces. It’s the world’s most expensive coffee, and it’s made from poop. Or rather, it’s made from coffee beans that are partially digested and then pooped out by the civet, a catlike creature. A cup can sell for as much as $80 in the United States. (National Geographic)

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Caged civet and the yield of kopi luwak beans produced. Image by Kemal Jufri (The New York Times)

Don’t support this industry by buying civet coffee – you don’t even get the good taste in the end because caged civets can’t pick and choose the choicest coffee cherries to eat, which was what made the coffee so good in the first place. Keeping civets in cages and feeding them any old cherries leads to an inferior product.

And what about buying wild civet coffee? That should be really good and worth the $$$$ then? Almost ALL civet coffee products are made from caged civets. Check the article I linked to if you want evidence.

A BBC undercover investigation revealed in 2013 how coffee from caged civets in inhumane conditions ends up labeled as wild civet coffee in Europe. (National Geographic)

And that’s it for today! Apologies for ending on not the most positive note, but hey, it needs to be said! Until the next adventure,

Yeni

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