Bali: Off the Beaten Track – Buahan
Less frequented by your regular traveller, the small villages of Buahan and Abang lie on the eastern shores of one of the most photographed places in Bali, Danau Batur. Tourist buses avoid descending down to the lake along the winding and narrow road mainly because ascending would be at a snail’s pace such is the steepness. From these villages you can actually see the tourist-drenched places like the lookouts over Gunung Batur and the Danau Batur at Kintamani. But, they are far from the adventurous area that is known as the ‘base of the lake’. Getting up to the area is relatively simple: choose any of the roads leading up to Penelokan. I would suggest the road that leads through Tirta Empul as this is by far the straightest route to the town. Unfortunately, like most places on Bali these days, you will have to pay an ‘entrance fee’ to use the T-junction where the road to the left leads to the tourist town of Kintamani, and to the right, a step descent into the bowels of the crater. The descent is quite beautiful with sparse forests, huge rock formations, and the occasional patch of rich green lush jungle. It never ceases to enthral me as you descend, the lake becoming bigger and bigger. Eventually there in front of you is this massive crystal shimmering body of water.
It’s quite a surreal feeling just standing there gazing across the water towered over by the massive Gunung Batur rising from its depths. You might not realise it at first but you will be actually standing inside an active volcano! There is a plethora of accommodation around the lake and especially at Kedisan as you get down to the lake. The road leading up to this village has several good, clean losmens but make sure you bargain a price. If you take the narrow road to the right at the base of the lake then it will lead you to Buahan and further on, Abang. This section of the lake is amazing. The crater walls, massive in height and rugged, are the domain of jet-black wild goats who managed to navigate and cling to the rough face. It is here on the shores of the lake orange trees flourish beside cabbages and corn as well as peanut shrubs in the rich volcanic soil. I would recommend staying down at the base of the lake for a couple of days even if only for the relaxation factor. The air is fresh and clean, the people very friendly and those views…simply unreal.
Kedisan is an okay place to visit but I found it noisy in many factors. It is from here that you can hire boats at outrageous prices just to visit the Bali Aga village of Trunyan (I refer to it as the cash-cow of the north). Not a welcoming place as I found out on my last visit mainly because we chose to hire locals to take us over there in dugout canoes. You would be better off carrying on up the road past Kedisan to Toya Bungkah. Here you will find the hot springs of Titra Sanjiwani. There are pools there where you can swim and again it’s quite amazing when you do this to realise that all of it is happening inside a volcano. It will cost you around Rp25,000 to enter and use the facilities. Whilst in the vicinity check out the temple Pura Jati. This temple is dedicated to the God Wisnu and it has some ornate but fierce carvings. Actually, the whole area is a photographers dream with stunning views from any position you look.
Going in totally the opposite direction returning to Buahan the road leading to Abang is quite a thrill! It winds viciously around the base of the crater wall and the narrow road can be daunting at times. The whole area around Buahan and Abang is not only pretty, it’s peaceful and the locals are more then happy to sit, have a chat and share a meal. Danau Batur has an abundant source of fish called Ikan Kapur and they have become a staple in the diet of the villagers who fish these waters daily. These you have to try at one of the local warungs.