Toya Bungkah Village

Lying on the western shore of Lake Batur, along the roller-coaster road from Kedisan to Songan, the resort village of Toya Bungkah features an invigorating hot springs, massive cinemascopic views, and a black-sand beach. Many travelers choose to stay in Toya Bungkah rather than Kedisan because the latter has too many Bali Aga while the former is more a mixture of Balinese and Javanese. Watch your gear in both places-lotsa thieves.

Toya Bungkah gets busy only during July and August, otherwise there's little traffic or motorboat noise. Just roosters crowing, flies buzzing, children playing, and pool balls socking. There are worse places to stay for a few days. Free of city lights, at night the stars are brilliant and the air fresh, filled with the sound of generators supplying power to the restaurants and color TVs. Electricity only comes on from 0630 to 2400. Bemo run in front of most hotels and it's a very easy matter to get to and from the village to Penelokan, eight km distant.

Just before the village is a tollbooth where you're hit with another irritating entrance fee: Rp1050 per person, Rp1000 per vehicle, Rp200 per motorcycle. Keep your entrance ticket so you can reenter each day. Popular tourist activities include bathing in the lake, fishing (Rp1000 for bamboo poles and worms), touring the lake via motorized boat (Rp40,000 per hour with boatman), visiting Trunyan and/or the cemetery on the other side of the lake, walking along the scenic shore, getting up at 0400 to climb Gunung Batur, or simply hanging out and enjoying the view and the cool air. At least five small open-air pool halls liven up the evening and somewhat occupy the many shiftless young men of the village. Although Toya Bungkah presents fewer hassles than other Batur communities, the males can be pretty aggressive to single women.

Getting There
From Penelokan, there's a good paved road via Seked and Prajurti. Since Toya Bungkah gets little traffic, bemo drivers first want Rp1500; when you get in, the price suddenly skyrockets to Rp15,000, eventually falling to Rp8000. Just wait until a public bemo comes along and pay Rp1000. Alternatively, you can hitch a ride down to the crater from a tourist or a truck, then walk to Toya Bungkah from Kedisan in an hour. Or take a boat from Kedisan.

Place of Interest :

Hot Springs
This sulfurous hot springs is known to soothe muscle aches and pains, as well as cure rheumatism and skin diseases. The volcanically heated water bubbles up from under the lake in several places among the lava rocks. The water is not really that hot, though it becomes warmer as the day progresses. A private hot springs lies north of Amertha's. Admission fee of Rp300 just to look, Rp1000 for hot-tub style baths. Facilities include changing room and toilet. Bring your own towel. Signs ask patrons not to wash clothes, shampoo, or wear shoes in the bathing area. Be warned, the pool is untidy and unappealing, not that private, and swarming with vendors.

The public air panas is on the other side of Amertha's and free. However, since villagers wash their clothes and cows in these shallow pools, and there's lots of litter around, you don't always feel like bathing here. After a long, relaxing dunk, swim Finnish-style from the mineral pools straight into the chilly lake. Very therapeutic, especially fresh from a hike up Gunung Batur.

The Art Center
Also called the Balai Seni Toya Bungkah. Above the air panas is a retreat for the study of the arts, including a dance academy and amphitheater. Rooms and bungalows spread out among nice peaceful gardens (see "Accommodations," below). If you stay here, you can watch the dances and an occasional wayang kulit for free. Good selection of books available to guests, with the emphasis on painting, from Dyer to the Fauvists. If no visiting study group is in town, the center seems virtually deserted; no one can provide any information on anything other than the rooms and restaurant. When an event is going on, the place is bustling.

The center (tel. 0362-7802719) was established in 1971 by Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, a North Sumatran novelist, philosopher, and painter. Known as "The Father of the Indonesian Language," Alisjahbana played a pivotal role in developing Bahasa Indonesia as a tool for sophisticated intellectual and technical usage. The old professor now spends but a few days a month here; the rest of the year he's in Denpasar or Jakarta.

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