Our Firefly AirBNB host had organised a Bali Jungle Hike for the three of us! We left our little base camp just after sunrise for a car ride with our driver named Dewa into the more dense jungle area just beyond Ubud. We began weaving our way through more rice paddies that were layered like the outer edge of a pyramid for automated irrigation. By this time we were quite a way out of the “modern” Bali. Out here the people live day by day, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents.
The car halted at a small house on the side of the rugged inclined road. The house belonged to our main tour guide who we were introduced to as Alit. To our surprise, breakfast was within a minute of being ready and smelled incredible. I’ll let you in on a secret early on in this post. We were not short of a meal on this day. In fact, I think I had eaten more food this day than ever before and also to this date of writing about it now! The flavourful food began its way out of a tiny kitchen onto a long outside table where we began fuelling our bodies for the journey beyond. What an incredible dish! Nasi Goreng again only this time even better than I’ve tried before. It had the perfect amount of spice and I only needed one tissue. I had finished the large bowl and felt quite satisfied for stomach comfort when Alit gestured to me and asked if I would like a second serving! Now I am quite decisive by nature and this was no exception. Yes Please! Off that little hard work bowl went back to the kitchen to carry some more mouthfuls of heaven back to me. It really wasn’t as difficult as I thought to fill an already full tank when it comes to traditional Balinese food. Well, time to go!
Long sticks for the hike were given out as we prepared for the hike ahead. Katie, Penny(our AirBnB host) and I set off to continue up the rugged road with our three tour guides, Alit, Yoga and Dewa. We had a few stop offs before getting all jungly. We were shown around the tiny village which occupied each side of the main and only road. Gazing upon the traditional ways was quite a treat to us. I can see why the village here seems so peaceful when they keep life simple and thrive from what the jungle has to offer in terms of food, drink and shelter. Hang on a second, looks like we have a fourth tour guide! A gentle spirited dog had been following us it seemed. It was almost like he was checking the perimeter consistently in a ten metre radius around as while we walked. The dog belonged to Alit and was very loyal!
Well, we had come to a narrow section running perpendicular to the main road that descended down gradually with a muddy path to follow. Now I realise why I might just need the stick! It was quite a slippery way down. None of us fell though we all had those “moments”. It was like walking through a denser version of Jurassic Park when we got to the bottom. The bamboo and other vegetation had a very prehistoric feel to it. We kept moving and started walking up hill again on a much grippier natural surface. Yoga had steamed off ahead and was found climbing incredibly high trees to get to a very beautiful looking pink berry called Longan. They were literally raining down upon us as Yoga shook the branches around. Thousands off these little treasures were up there and we were picking them up one by one below.
We started seeing other little shelters deeper in the jungle. Some were actual houses and quite decent looking structures made out of all natural jungle materials. Others were made as shrines. Katie was asking a lot of questions about the natural flora we were passing. Dewa was surprised at how much Katie knew about everything though Katie does have a background in this area. Beyond the chatter I could hear tapping sounds up ahead getting louder each step closer. We stood still trying to source the sounds location but it seemed to be up more than anything. We realised some locals had climbed a gigantic palm and were setting up buckets to catch the palm nectar. Apparently only the oldest trees produce the nectar so a large climb is needed. Sounds caught my attention once again to an elderly looking man carrying a large stick with bundles of bananas on the front and back evenly balancing on his shoulder. Yoga snuck in and cut a few off the rear bunch for us to nibble on. I think the old man knew but it was still funny.
The trail ahead let us out in a clearing of rice paddies. Walking along side these wondrous monuments felt really invigorating! I felt like one of the hobbits from Lord of the Rings going on a daily commute to pick some food. We came by a plant was incredibly large leaves that are sometimes used as umbrellas. I can see why! After weaving our way back into the jungle and up a fairly steep hill which we had to hoist ourselves up with the help of other vegetation, we came upon a very old and traditional looking shrine. We stopped in this clearing to have some snacks which right now makes me drooling while thinking about them. It was a steamed pumpkin cake called sumping waluh and were like sweet pumpkin wrapped in banana leaf. There were plenty for each of us to stuff our face as well! I certainly filled up on them.
Onward we went back into the jungle and found ourselves staring at Salak or commonly known as snake fruit. They taste a bit like apple and have a scaly looking shell to them. More villagers came wandering through and all had some story to tell to our tour guides (in their own language of course). It seems like a very tight family community here. A young girl was carrying a large weaved basket on her head full of leaves and countless other things nesting inside. Well time for some refreshments. Yoga had gone off on a tangent again. We ran into him a few minutes later carrying about 12 extremely large yellow coconuts. We sat at another small shelter with a table while watching yoga sharpen a knife and begin cutting into the coconuts. You could tell they had done this before. The coconuts had a small hole in them which a straw fit into nicely and we drank our hearts out. These coconuts never seemed to run out. I am guessing a good 2 litres of coconut water filled each one! The side of the coconut was hacked off in one fell swoop for which we used as a carver to gain access to the soft coconut flesh on the inside. This was ever so tasty and just what was needed. It was quite easy to feel very content in this humid heat after drinking 2.5 litres of coconut water, eating the delicious soft flesh and being already fuelled on other goodness from this wonderful place.
After everyone had cooled off and relaxed we continued on our path. Sometimes the path was quite unclear but it only made it more enjoyable. Who doesn’t love a bit of uncertainty in their adventures!? Well there goes Yoga again. We found him standing on a lopped tree overhanging quite a drop down to some rice fields. He came back empty handed this time but we were still impressed haha. Oh look a red pineapple growing! I’ve never seen or imagined a red pineapple before but if it had to be anywhere. I am sure a lot of people would guess here.
Well it was time to head back to the village. We kept on hiking up, down and around until we found that good old rugged road. Upon arriving at the house we were startled to see a bunch more food laying on the table. Not just a bunch more, a huge amount more! Luckily it was Bali otherwise I wouldn’t have had the room in my stomach. The most incredible dishes were standing there before our eyes all in weaved bowls lined with banana leaf. We ate up and shared a lot of laughs and smiles. Today had been a great insight into what adventures still await us in the world and we are only ever hungry for more. The car ride home held a great sense of contentment and we slept well that night!