Bali’s beautiful places : SIDEMEN

The next few articles will be dedicated to several places that we went to in Bali. These are all places that we enjoyed discovering and that brought us a lot of memories..

Our first article about Bali’s beautiful places talked about Amed, one of our favourite places in Bali. This next place was one of our last stops in Bali : Sidemen.
Let’s talk about this village together : Some basic informations on the village and surroundings, our more personal opinions on this place and our experiences there (where we stayed, what we did the most, who we met).

BASIC INFORMATIONS ON THE VILLAGE AND THE SURROUNDING


Sidemen is considered as one of the most authentic villages in Bali. It is known for being a place almost untouched by tourism on an island that is full of travelers and tourists everywhere. And what makes it an even more charming place is that it is surrounded by paddy fields !
Sidemen is about a 2 hours drive from Ubud and is located not too far from the famous Mount Agung and the even more famous Pura Besakih temple, which makes it a great place to stay if you want to hike around the Mount Agung or visit the most visited temple in Bali.

What is Mount Agung ?

Mount Agung is an active volcano (the last eruption being in May 2019, during our time in Bali) and also the highest point in Bali as it is about 3 000 meters high. A lot of hikers climb Mount Agung at about midnight to be able to admire the stunning views when they arrive at the top of the mount, at the perfect moment to see the sun rise. If you enjoy hiking and are not afraid of a bit of difficulty, you should definitely try this hike !

What is this apparently super famous Pura Besakih temple ?

The Pura Besakih temple, also considered as Bali’s mother temple is considered to be the biggest and holiest temple on Bali.
We didn’t visit this temple as we had already visited another very famous temple, the Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang temple and even though of course the temple was really beautiful, it was not a pleasure to visit it because of the huge crowd of tourists and the lack of authenticity of the place. We heard that the Pura Besakih temple was a bit similar and decided that one very big and very touristy temple was enough for us ! We prefer smaller temples even though they are maybe less impressive for some people. However, if you are interested in visiting important historical and religious places in Indonesia, you should pay a visit to this temple. 🙂

Sidemen isn’t only known for its proximity to the temple or the volcano, but as we mentioned above, it’s a place where there are a lot of rice fields. You have a few easy walks that allow you to go through these beautiful paddy fields by yourself. It is so relaxing to stroll through them with a view on the Mount Agung a bit further away..
Small warning, though : As in every area with paddy fields, beware of the snakes 😉 You don’t have to be paranoid though but try to make enough noise while walking so that the snakes know you are coming and that way, they are able to go away without panicking and without panicking you ! Just like in Australia, some Balinese snakes can be dangerous but as long as you don’t act foolishly around them, their first instinct is usually to slither away.
Paddy fields around the village means that you will see a lot of rice being dried out on the streets as well. People do that on the whole island but it is near Sidemen that we saw rice drying the most. Sometimes, to go somewhere we were obligated to drive on the rice drying with our scooter because it blocked the street which was really weird for us at the beginning ! However, we got used to it as we saw all the locals drive on the rice without a care in the world. It was considered as normal !


PERSONAL OPINIONS AND EXPERIENCES


If you’ve read our previous articles, you probably already know that we loved this place because there were very few tourists ! It was a perfect place to go to after being in Amed for a week, because it was so empty compared to Amed. We really really loved walking through the rice fields and being able to see how the locals took care of these fields.
As usual, driving around on our scooter, eating in small warungs and trying to find hidden gems, was also an activity that we loved doing around Sidemen.

Sidemen’s authenticity was really something that we were thankful to find in Bali.
In Ubud, Amed, Simenyiak and other well-known places, locals are very used to foreign people. Whereas in Sidemen, of course they see a lot of foreigners come and go too, but since it’s not as much as in the other places, a lot of locals couldn’t help but be intrigued or stare at us when we walked by or drove by. This is something I wasn’t too comfortable with as I quite like not being stared on the street by complete strangers but we got used to it anyway. Also, I don’t know if it’s because they saw less travelers but people were very kind to us and seemed to really want to help us when we were lost or needed something (because yes, driving everywhere with our scooter meant that we ended up in the middle of nowhere quite often and asked people regularly where the way back was..).

Another thing that amused us while staying in Sidemen, were the cockfights. Let me rephrase that.. The fights in themselves did not amuse us at all as we both consider this as animal abuse and we both love animals dearly and would do anything in our power to protect them and to stop animal abuse. What amused us was how these events were done.
There were a lot of cockfights happening around Sidemen. However, this is illegal in Indonesia since 1981 (although apparently it is still tolerated for religious purposes), which meant that locals did not want to be caught doing it.
So they did these fights on the streets in small villages for all the villagers to see, streets where not too many people passed by. If however, they heard or saw a scooter drive towards them, they immediatly stopped everything they were doing, they took their cocks away even though it was an intense moment of the fight and they hid them under something or brought them quickly inside their home, the crowd around the fight scattered away and everyone pretended to do nothing “lalalaaaaa ♫”.
This happened to us about three times and twice they noticed a bit late that we were arriving so we had already seen what they were doing before they had time to hide everything.
Once our scooter passed next to them and they could only see our backs, even though we weren’t completely gone yet, they unpacked everything and continued their fight as if nothing had happened.

Where did we stay ?

We stayed at Sweet Escape, for about 12€ (20$AUS) a night for two people, breakfast included. We didn’t have the best room as our room was the closest to the reception so we didn’t have a lot of privacy on our balcony but we had a beautiful view and a good time there. There was a pool, restaurant and everything you need there, which was really nice but we didn’t spend a lot of time in this hotel as we were often out discovering lifeeeeeee.
Anyway, one thing we loved loved loved at this place was that there were passion fruits growing everywhere just outside our bedroom, on our balcony ! And the staff told us that we could take all the ripe passion fruits that fell on the ground. As passion fruits have been one of our favourite fruits since we ate some local ones in Australia (in France, because it’s from so far away and because the taste is not so good, it’s not worth buying some) this was a delightful news for us!


We also got to spend some time with a person living nearby this hotel, that kindly invited us at his home and presented us to all his family ! His family was quite a wealthy family and they had a very different way of living than the family with whom we spent some time in Amed. It was so interesting to learn new things about Sidemen thanks to them and to be able to ask so many questions about their religion, the process of drying rice and the cockfights we had recently seen!

We couldn’t have imagined a better way to end our stay in Sidemen than by meeting this kind family. However, the end of our trip was getting closer and after discovering this lovely little authentic village, it was time to move on to our next destination : the one and only, Ubud !

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