Munduk is in the central part of Indonesia. This beautiful town is built around farming, cultivating cloves, coffee, cocoa and vanilla. The smells are so good outside. I saw lots of farmers drying out cloves and leaves on large sheets of burlap or fabric.
The village in Munduk is very small. There are no ATM machines so we had to make sure we brought enough cash on hand to pay the home stay. The price of food and accommodations are significantly less than Ubud. We stayed at the Aditya Home Stay for $19.00 (USD) a night. There is a higher end place to stay but we preferred the smaller home stay. Even though the town is small, there are plenty of things to do and see in Munduk.
When we first arrived here, we had come from Ubud. There were hundreds of options to eat and stay. Most of them had air conditioning and luxurious grounds. When we got out of the car in Munduk it was a bit of culture shock. I’ve learned over the years of traveling not to make any decisions about a place upon arrival until I’ve slept over and woke up the next day. It’s amazing how that changes everything. Munduk was a good example of that. The room was very basic and the property didn’t have any bells and whistles. My first reaction was this is too budget for my taste. The other guest seemed so happy and relaxed. After a great night’s sleep in the cool mountain air, I woke up so relaxed and all I could see was the beauty around me. The sounds of roosters, motorbikes and children playing were music to my ears instead of annoyances. I was actually thinking of staying longer before I got out of the bed.
With only two nights here we spent one day trekking to the waterfalls with a guide. I highly recommend a guide ($5.00/hr USD). They can take you through trails in the farming areas rather than the main roads, and tell you endless information about the surrounding areas. Without our guide we would have walked right through not knowing all of the different fruit, vanilla, clove & coffee trees and histories around us. It also gave me a chance to ask about things I personally wanted to know, like dating, what they think about Americans, what tv shows are popular here from abroad. I really liked our guide, his name was Koman. Some of the things he said I had to take with a grain of salt but he was so fun to talk to. He believed in voodoo and loved beer. He told us he was drinking with friends about 20 years ago at the Tanah Barak waterfall and witnessed a baby calf fall from the top of the waterfall into the water below. He said the owner came down in tears trying to sell the dead calf for meat. He said the calf represented dollar signs and they were sad about the financial loss. He told me about the time he ate a dog meat skewer and later that day was followed by dogs because they could sense he had the meat in his system. It scared him so much that he never ate it again. One of the things he said and I believed was that the monkeys here were sacred and if you intentionally hurt one of them you will be cursed. This is where the voodoo comes in. I loved every minute of it though.
I asked why some of the roosters were in cages and some were free. He said cock fighting (which I’m totally against) was a big sport in Indonesia. People kept the roosters they had for fighting in the cages. They were expensive to buy and they are fed mostly meat to get bigger and stronger. The ones I saw were huge.
There is a lot of money involved in this sport and like all gambling, there were sad stories as a result for some. He had a friend who had a nice house, 2 motor bikes, a car and a family. Everything was lost as a result of his addiction to cock fighting. Being from Las Vegas it sounded very familiar. I don’t like to see anything living in captivity (except convicts) so seeing these beautiful roosters in cages all day, everyday was heartbreaking. Birds especially. If the rooster gets hurt during a fight they are set free or sent out to stud. Meaning a financial loss for the owner.
Munduk is home to two beautiful waterfalls. We trekked to both of them in less than 2 hours. The first one was Tanah Barak waterfall and the second one was Malanting waterfall. I was impressed with both of them. They were loud and magnificent. The power of the sound and force was so strong, just standing by it (and you can even go in the water under it) you could feel it. I saw a couple of people actually get in the shallow water and let the waterfall shower them. I wasn’t doing that though, that water was COLD. We had to pay admission to the Malanting waterfall, 20,000 rupiah ($1.36 USD). This one had manicured STEEP stairs going down to it. There was also a toilet available but no doors on them. Again, it was breathtaking. I had read a review on Trip Advisor from one idiot stating “not worth the admission”. What a dumb ass. There were small stands along the way selling spices and water. The water wasn’t cold but at that point on the trek it doesn’t matter. We spent about 3 minutes at each waterfall, took a couple of pictures and videos and left. The trekking was more fun than the destinations. The strange thing is after the long trek to the Malanting waterfall, we were a few short steps away from the main road. Our guide Koman said we didn’t need a guide to see the rice fields ahead. We were so hot and tired we just paid him and parted ways. We walked up the road to eat at Don Bieu’s (means banana leaf), and take in their magnificent views of the rice fields while sipping on fresh fruit juice and talking about all the crazy stuff we learned on the trek.
We could have stayed one or two nights more and explored the lake in more detail and other parts but our visas are only good for 30 days and there is so much to see around Indonesia that we didn’t have the time. That was a bummer.