Descending from the crater rim road overlooking Lake Boyan and Lake Tamblingan, Munduk greets the northbound traveller after a series of sharp bends. The misty heights of the crater rim road lead to sunny Jalan Raya Desa Munduk. The village of Munduk lies between the north coast and the highlands. In the other direction, it rises from the balmy north coast of Bali to an altitude of about 780m. With warming and cooling influences from the sea, the temperature ranges between 20-26 deg C all year round. Nights and early mornings are significantly cooler than in the lowlands.
There is only one major road running through the village. Though not busy, the occasional truck or motorbike is enough to shatter the silence if you’re staying close to the road. We checked into Pondok Asri. In spite of the cleanliness and the friendliness of the place, the occasional truck or speeding motorbike may disrupt your thoughts.
Other than that, Munduk itself has a mildly cooling, meditative atmosphere, albeit not as classy as the homestay at Tirta Gangga. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of laundry service and convenience stores here. Once we got settled down, I went in search of a dinner place. One warung caught my attention with its 5-star reviews.
Warung D’Munduk is just a short 15min walk from Pondok Asri. The rave reviews are probably due to the nice views from the balcony table. The food is passable but not particularly commendable. I would advise the traveller to go with the local dishes and avoid Western that doesn’t taste Western. Then wash it all down with a bottle of bubbly Bintang. Believe me, the scenery gets even better after the Bintang.
As the sea is not far away, sunset can be quite tantalising in Munduk. As darkness sets in, the village goes to sleep almost immediately.
Most people come to Munduk to hike. There are a few trails here leading to waterfalls and rice fields. The trails are quite pleasant due mainly to the lack of crowds, but scenery here is not comparable with Batur. It’s more a place for a relaxing stroll and some contemplative moments in the hills and rice fields.
All homestays here provide maps for those who wish to hike on their own. For further destinations, half/full day treks with guides can also be arranged. To be honest, there isn’t much that is spectacularly Instagramable here, so it attracts mainly the pensive sort like writers, artists and poets. It’s better to head back to Kuta if you thrive on clubbing action.
Tired of waterfalls, I decided to just check out the rice fields. Mornings in Munduk are refreshingly pleasant. As I was ill the last time I visited, I didn’t have a chance to visit the rice fields. This was my first hike around Munduk.
The trail starts from the road outside Warung D’Munduk and descends steadily. It then forks, turns and rises sharply. A somewhat indistinct path leads the way into a forest following a stream until it emerges in a brilliant field of rice paddy. There’s a family here who has built a viewing tower. It costs Rp10,000 to climb up for a few “aerial” shots. A short rest in the tower, an interesting chat with the two boys and a few shots from elevated ground were well worth my 90 cents. The children’s mother told me it’s all right even if I didn’t pay. How could I?
Walking down the path, I soon discovered a homestay right in the middle of the rice field. A tiny step away from civilisation, it was the perfect place for the contemplative to stay for days or even weeks. The path ends at a road. Ascending brings one back to the main road. The hike took me little more than an hour. I was still early for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent reading and catching up on social media. I could also have brought my writing materials and done some writing.
For dinner, we tried a place just off the main road. It was rather inconspicuous with only a menu at the foot of the stairs telling one that there’s a restaurant upstairs. Actually, I knew about this place the day before as we were walking back from D’Munduk. The boss had called out to me and I told him politely that I already had dinner. On my second night at Munduk, I decided to check him out.
As it turns out, the views here are even better than D’Munduk. The food was slightly cheaper and actually a bit better than D’Munduk. With a very decent sound system, it seemed like it could be turned into a pub at night.
As we dug into our nasi goreng, a light breeze spread the mist over the hills like butter over toast. Then a light drizzle followed. As we finished our dinner, the sun appeared and cast a rainbow over Munduk. It was spellbinding moment. I let out an audible sigh and said “indah sekali” to the boss.