Munduk: The Bali We Dream Of

Sitting with owner Nyoman Bagiarta in the restaurant of Puri Lumbung Cottages we’re overlooking a sweeping view of rice terraces and clove trees. Nyoman sat with us before dinner to share the history of how he built the 30 charming cottages over the years and his vision for preserving the area over the next 30 years.  He left his job over 15 years ago as the director of a tourism school in the area, and started with  5 abandoned rice “Lumbungs” which Balinese farmers used to store rice over 80 years ago by converting them into charming hotel cottages in the hills of Munduk. Since then the business has  grown into 30 cottages with balconies overlooking  sweeping rice fields and mountain views that are inspirational and tranquil. Nyoman explained years ago when he was working at the tourism school,  he realized responsible tourism (now called “eco-tourism”) was the way to build tourism in Bali as well as preserve and invest in future growth of natural resources. This was part of his inspiration behind creating the Puri Lumbung Cottages.

Munduk is a sleepy village in the northwest of Bali, tucked away on a mountain side that overlooks LakeTamblingan and Mount Lesung. Many call it a rare part of Bali that is still unspoilt and reminds them of what Bali was like 20 years ago. According to Bagiarta the Tamblian area is much respected as a holy area for the Balinese. Archaeologically the area has some cultural treasures, such an ancient stone Lingam-Yoni and number of old stone wash basins used my metal smiths in the area thousands of years ago. The importance of preserving the spritual culture is balanced by the significance of the area also being rich in environmental resources. These two issues are hand in hand in Bail. The waterfall and the lake are popular day hikes for visitors staying in the area.  They are also the main sources of water supply for drinking water and for land irrigation that supports the livelihood of the people, as well as being an obvious sanctuary for the ecology of the area.

Bagiarta has written several proposals over the years to protect the Tamblian Twin Sacred Mountain Springs and create a small-scale model project for planting and preserving both domestic rainforest trees and coffee as well as conserve sources of water and endangered species of domestic trees.  The Tamblingan area is significant in three ways, as a strategic function for the water supply from the Lake, as a religious center and as an ecological sanctuary. Over the years he has written several proposals and received funding from various Rotary Clubs to restore the function of the tropical rainforest around the foot of Mt. Lesong as a reliable water source for Lake Tamblingan and all springs and rivers in the area. He has proposed to restore the function of the area as a spiritual center, establish maintenance for the trash and garbage issues that plague all of Bali already, develop areas for public use for children, locals & foreign visitors, provide areas set aside for the study of wildlife and to establish parts of the area as a protected rainforest district & nature reserve thereby restricting access to motor traffic. Preserving and investing in the future of the area has become his passion. He believes this work comes from mirroring what is inside him and reflecting it in the world around him.

Aside from being one of the most restful and cozy places I’ve stayed in Bali, the energy at Puri Lumbung has a restful, authentic feeling. The cottages are small, very clean, the bedding is fresh, each room has a balcony with table and chairs. There are afternoon activities provided by the hotel to show guests, about local Balinese cake making, weaving, agricultural farming, anything that will educate visitors about the history and culture of the area. The hotel has been a retreat for writers and artists for over 20 years. The area and the setup of the cottages lends to a creative retreat with an inspirational setting.

The kitchen, in terms of actual equipment and the chef, is one of the best in Bali Bagiarta likes to boast. The food was excellent and reasonably priced. Everything was fresh and delicious. They also serve local coffee from the area (one of the area’s oldest sources of income); if you are a coffee drinker you will be pleasantly surprised by the local Bali coffee. It’s a rare gem in the Northwest of Bali with a very authentic feel of life outside of the usual tourist locations on the Island.

You can book room at the Puri Lumbung Cottages through Agoda on Trip Advisor or check their website.

Trip Advisor:  Puri Lumbung Cottages