A Little Adrenaline

24 Nov

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]From terrifying, world class surf breaks at Ulu Watu to the beginner-friendly swells on Kuta Beach, from one of the world’s easiest and most satisfying wreck dives at Tulamben to high-adrenaline drift dives amid lethal currents off Gili Selang, Bali packs a lot of adrenaline into a very compact island…

I’ll be posting a lot, lot more about Bali (including some great dive sites) once we return there in January. After almost three months in Indonesia, we’d barely scratched the surface, so rather than heading for Latin America we’re going back to the archipelago, thence to China, Nepal and India by way of Laos… But more on that later.

Still, if you like a little adrenaline, without the ocean channel risk to life and limb, read on for probably the best waterpark in South-East Asia, rafting down 12km of almost constant white water, and a chance to leap through the trees, zipwire, balance and Tarzan swing up to 30m above the ground. Oh, yeah, and a gorgeous double waterfall with enticing rope swing too.

Few things in life offer as much concentrated fun as a waterpark, and for value and scale Vietnam’s Dam Sen waterpark (in Saigon) and Ho Tay (in Hanoi) are, frankly, hard to beat. But Waterbom, Bali, positioned amid the package tour hell of Kuta, has probably the best waterslides anywhere in South-East Asia.

Highlights? The Boomerang, down which you soar in a double-tube, to rebound terrifyingly close to the top of the slide; the Superbowl, which sends you spinning solo into a circular vortex that dumps you in the pool below; the Smashdown, which drops you from 21m in a couple of seconds; and the aptly-named Climax, a slide so steep you start in a cage, from which the bottom is ripped away, drop 15m in under a second at an angle of 70 degrees or so, then whizz round a complete full loop and out the other side before you’ve even had time to scream…

There’s a gentle lazy river, a host of leisurely, windy slides, and a hilarious kiddies pool with miniature slides, water cannon, and a giant bucket of water which dumps unpredictably… And, if you can face the trip to Kuta, it’s a highly entertaining way to spend the day.

The landscape of Bali, with its dramatic central mountains and river gorges, makes it a fun place to dabble in whitewater rafting. Tours run to the Sungai Ayung, with rapids which never exceed Grade II, making it perfect for the nervous and young families, but probably rather dull for the rest of us, and the Telaga Waja, whose Grade III rapids offer quite a bit more drama as they race through gorges and rice terraces, populated by the odd head of cattle, the occasional monkey and those crazy-ass water lizards they call iguanas in these parts.

The Telaga Waja rafting course spans 12km of almost constant whitewater — with one dam you have to portage on foot. You whirl down this little river through a beautiful rural landscape, under bamboo bridges (lean back flat!), bouncing off canyon walls and soaring down chutes between dark rocks, pausing occasionally to hang vertiginously from the top of a rock.

Its undisputed highlight? Shooting the 5m-high dam at the end of the course. You will be glad you had your helmet…

In beautiful Bedugul, amid botanic gardens set on a crater lake in a climate so damp and cool they grow not only strawberries but apples, Bali Treetop Adventure Park takes the zipwiring concept several steps further. You’re not just whizzing (harnessed) at high speed down wires strung between trees up to 30m above the ground, but scrambling along an aerial assault course to reach them.

There’s climbing walls, high wire balances, scrambles through barrels, complicated balancing acts over moving bars at great heights — secured at all times by a pair of safety carabiniers you attach yourself. There’s six different courses (and a training course) with one course suitable for age 4-up, four for age 8-up, and the remaining two for persons over 12 with a raised-arm reach of 180cm or more and a degree of physical fitness. (The 7m climbing wall is relatively tough.)

Oh, yeah, there’s also the occasional leech. But don’t let that put you off… And stop at the nearby waterfall of Gitgit if you’re headed north or east, where you can swing from a Tarzan swing over a beautiful waterfall set amid idyllic countryside with coffee, cacao and vanilla nestling among hibiscus and bananas.

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14 Responses to “A Little Adrenaline”

  1. Jane turner November 25, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    It is sometime since I heard from you and glad to see nothing nasty had happened. I was thinking about tsunami etc. Enjoy reading all about your travels and glad to learn you are going to return to Laos – I hope I can do the same one day. If you have a chance visit the White Temple in Thailand (closest border crossing is Pak Ben, I believe. Keep writing!

    • MummyT November 25, 2010 at 3:03 am #

      Good to hear for you and thank you for your kind wishes. We’ve been the wrong end for the tsunami (and I haven’t written off a car, either)… Truth is, I’ve been thinking about a redesign for the blog, and posting sort of slipped a little. And I’m totally hoping to check out the White Temple on our way up…

  2. Snap November 25, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    Hey T, nice to know you’re still out there. Thought you must be in Oz by now, putting your feet up for a while!

    Cheers

    • MummyT November 25, 2010 at 11:21 am #

      I am in Oz! In Adelaide, right now, which is positively fragrant, and trying not to faint with horror at the prices. Arrived in Darwin (never ideal, I guess) to be hit for $6 for 750ml of mineral water at the airport.

      • Snap November 25, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

        Yes…Australia is expensive. The more I travel in SE Asia, the harder it is to part with my money when at home. Unlike here, we eat ‘in’ nearly all the time…having a kitchen helps 😉 The airport prices ARE criminal.

      • MummyT December 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

        Yep. It would be expensive even on the old UK-Oz exchange rate ($3 to the quid), and even without the time in Asia… We’re staying with family and friends, which helps immensely, but I still find having to think about whether I can afford (eg) to stop for a coffee a shock to the system… Did a long drive into the Flinders from Adelaide, which I would normally fuel with endless cans of Diet Coke. $3.50 a pop. Yowsers!

  3. Ainlay November 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Hi, I’ve been following you for a while since I am planning a similar trip with my four kids (two of whom are 8) next year. But this really shows me how much the world has changed! I lived in Bali for 4 years in Ubud almost 20 years ago and Waterpark!? White water rafting!? Zip lining!? Wow the biggest adventure back then was motorbiking the one lane road between Denpassar & Ubud at night! Thanks for the heads up & hope it still has a bit of its quiet, laid back charm,,,,

    • MummyT December 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

      We are about to spend a month in Ubud: so I think there’s still much there to love… It’s vastly touristified from when you were there, but still retains the culture and laidback aspect, along with nice things like vegan restaurants and Western food: but you only have to walk down a back alley to be right into the rice fields and amid the rural landscape. Kuta will horrify you. It’s a giant package resort with almost nothing Balinese about it, let alone Indonesian. The road between Denpasar and Ubud is still quite an adventure, and most of it is still one lane. Though the two-lane dual bypass is equally adventurous, given the numbers of vehicles they can squeeze in there. When are you planning to leave?

  4. mukuba2002 November 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    i didnt think you are an adrenaline junkie, nice post

    • MummyT December 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

      Ah! We love this kind of stuff… In-depth culture is one side of travel. And touristy fun is another part that’s important when you’re with a child, and even when you’re not…

  5. Tran November 26, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    Just found you yesterday. That’s so great what you are doing. Happy travels and thanks for the tips!

  6. Marilia November 29, 2010 at 5:58 am #

    That´s some adventure to tell, cool to know about what you guys do together.

    • MummyT December 1, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

      Yeah. It’s not only adventures among wildlife and rare cultures. Our Christmas schedule is currently looking rather like wall-to-wall theme parks and waterparks amid the cultural mecca (not) that is Brisbane’s Gold Coast. (With a dose of Sunshine Coast thrown in…)

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