I was ready to leave the solitude (and my hammock) behind at Jelenga Beach and make my way back to Bali. But I still had 5 nights or so to go and I really didn’t want to spend it back in the chaotic, noisy, drunken Aussie-filled Kuta. So where to go?
(Apologies for the garish appearance of some photos. I was experimenting with new HDR camera apps on my phone. One of them resulted in garish and over-processed images. And of course, they make the other photos look dull by comparison…)
I first learned of Sideman (pronounced ‘Seed-e-man’) a few years (thanks to posts on Travelfish), a rural area of Bali with stunning picturesque views of lush green rice fields. It was probably one of the few places left on Bali that I haven’t seen over the years. Because the area isn’t readily serviced by buses or shuttles, you need to hire a driver to take you there. That doesn’t come cheap these days (relatively speaking, when on a backpacker budget). However, since I could take the public ferry from Lombok to Padangbai in Bali, it was then only a 45 min drive away, and somewhat cheaper. It became a easy decision to go.
And I’m so glad I did!
After spending the last 10 days in a fairly rustic place, I decided to treat myself to a slightly better class of accommodation – a ‘flashpacker’ place. It was pricey (relatively speaking) at 350,000rp per night. That’s NZ $36, including breakfast and plenty of hot water, and a opool – but what a treat it was! I mention the hot water, because for the last 2+ weeks, I’ve been having cold showers, or worse, scooping cold buckets of water of my head. This was pure luxury!
And absolutely stunning – the views were drop-dead gorgeous everywhere I turned.
I stayed in rural Sideman about 1.5km out of the village. Even though it isn’t high season, I was still surprised at how few tourists come here – I probably saw a total of 12 tourists in the wider Sideman area over the 3 days I was here (plus a group from Intrepid Tours who came through for one night). Apparently it’s like this all year round, too.
As we drove into Sideman village, it was obvious that there had been a recent festival or ceremony here as the roads were still lined with many decorations. It turns out that I had just missed a 12-day event for locals to celebrate prosperity and greatness. The hotel posted some pictures on their Facebook page – what a pity I missed out!
Most of my time here was spent exploring rural Sideman (on foot, and on a short motorbike ride), taking photos – and taking advantage of using good internet to do some planning and/organising of the next phase of my travels.
Sideman – you have redeemed my jaded views of Bali, which lately has just become a necessary transit stop to/from other destinations. I will return, that’s a promise. Anyone going to Bali – check this place out. Don’t come for the shopping and nightlife because it doesn’t exist here. But if you want to see the quintessential Bali, this is where it’s at.