Sidemen – A Peaceful Place in Bali Posted by sasha on Mar 7, 2018 in Uncategorized
If you get sick of the crowds in places like Seminyak and Ubud, you may want to escape to a quiet Balinese village. Sidemen is just the place to go. It’s pronounced see-da-men (not side-men), and it’s peaceful place in Bali. Here’s a brief introduction to the village with a few travel tips for your visit.
An Intro to Sidemen
Sidemen is located in east Bali in the Karangasem region. It’s about a 90-minute drive northeast of Ubud and an hour away from the coastal town of Candidasa. This village is located in a valley and is full of terraced rice fields. Unlike other parts of Bali where rice is harvested three times a year, farmers in Sidemen only plant one crop of rice each year. Rather than grow rice all year, they also grow corn, tapioca, coffee, salak (snakefruit) and flowers that are used in the canang sari offerings.
As is the case all over Bali, you’ll find plenty of traditional Hindu temples in and around the village. Around important holidays such as Galungan or Nyepi, you can expect to see plenty of colorful decorations as well. Since this is still a very traditional area, it’s important to dress respectfully here. Save the Bintang tank-tops and board shorts for Kuta.
While Sidemen remains a traditional Balinese village, it has also developed quite the tourism industry. More and more hotels and villas are being built each year. It’s a long way from the over-developed chaos of the southern beach towns and Ubud, though, and let’s hope it stays that way.
What to Do in Sidemen
The best thing to do in Sidemen is simply wander around the area. There are several trails you can take to meander through the terraced rice fields. You won’t be harassed by calls of of “Yes, Boss, you need transport?!” out here – just the peaceful sounds of nature.
Eventually you’ll make your way to the Unda River, which flows through the valley. This river is also very important in the subak irrigation system in Bali.
When the clouds disperse, you can catch a glimpse of mighty Mt. Agung in the distance. If you’re interested in scaling Bali’s largest volcano, this is the perfect base to begin an overnight trek to the summit. Most tour operators and hotels can help you arrange a Mt. Agung trek from Sidemen.
From Sidemen, it’s only about an hour to Pura Besakih – Bali’s Mother Temple. Ceremonies are always going on here, so don’t be surprised if you see hundreds of people in a colorful procession on your visit. Unfortunately, the locals around the temple are known for scamming tourists with extra fees. Just know that you don’t need to hire a guide to visit the temple, but be aware that you cannot enter all parts of the temple.
On your way back from the temple, you may run into some traffic thanks to a cremation ceremony. Just pull your motorbike over and watch as they go by. These ceremonies are known as Ngaben. The name comes from the word ngabuin or ngabu, meaning “turn to ash.” The cremation ceremony is incredibly important to Balinese people, as it represents the spirit being released from the deceased’s body, thus allowing them to either reincarnate or find final rest in Moksha.
There’s lots more to do in Sidemen if you stay for a few days. The village is known for its beautiful songket and endek styles of weaving, and you can visit workshops to see how they’re made. You can also visit distilleries to see how the Balinese hooch known as arak is made. Visit the morning market and take a cooking class in the afternoon to gain a better understanding of Balinese food. It may be a small, quiet village, but there’s plenty to do in Sidemen.
Even though it’s a small village, there are plenty of choices for accommodation in Sidemen. There are several villas with pools overlooking the rice paddies. Many of them have their own restaurant and spa, so you don’t even have to leave the grounds if you just want to kick back and relax. We enjoyed our stay at the Arta Nadi Villa on our trip to Sidemen.
There are several restaurants to choose from in Sidemen, most of them with a view looking out to the rice terraces. A great choice is the restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Sawah Indah Villa. We had a great lunch there of pepes ikan and some yummy soup.
Another great choice is Warung Ayu. They’ve got a great view and they cook up delicious Indonesian and even Thai dishes. We tried a mix of both with some sayur urap and an awesome tuna curry. They also have a delicious honey ginger tea here.
As far as getting to Sidemen goes, your best bet is to have your own wheels. Rent a motorbike or a car in one of the busier towns to get yourself here and then you’ll easily be able to visit Pura Besakih and other points of interest that are outside of town.
Have you visited Sidemen? How did you like it? Leave a comment and let us know what you did there!
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