Aviation, My Life, Travel

Northern Bali: Bedugul, Buleleng, and Bali International Flight Academy

This is the continued story from my last trip report on board GA 400 which flew me to Bali two weeks ago.

Ngurah Rai International Airport. 8 June 2011.

I was really excited I might say. It had been 5 years since my last time explored Bali, where I mostly spent time around Sanur and Kuta. The original trip to Bali that I felt I was really exploring the city was in 1996 when we drove up to the central Bali and the south part. The rest of my visit to Bali only spent at the airport on my overseas transit stop.

After we disembarked and proceeded to the Arrival Hall we still had to wait for 30 minutes extra until our driver came to drive us to Buleleng. Waiting is never easy but we kind of enjoyed it, especially at the airport. Well, at least for me, not for my mum. The driver who turned out to be a genuine Balinese, appeared and asked my Mom’s name.

“Om Swastiastu, (That’s the local term of saying Hello), saya Made?” his Balinese accent broke the silence.

“Oh Bli Made, Apa Kabar?” my Mom greeted him, feeling relieved once knowing the car finally had arrived. I was smiling at him, and shaking his hands, and called him “Bli”. Bli is the salutation for a man in Bali, in Javanese we had Mas or Pak. So people will tend to call me with Mas Danang because I am a Javanese. (How I really love to be called with it. Mas, Mas, Mas.. hehe)

The driver offered his hands to bring our luggage. He assured like “Are these your luggage? only two?”

My mom nodded, “Yes Bli, we only have two carry-ons,”

The Bli apparently made a statement that quiet intrigued me: “Oh, it’s so rare to find Jakartans only light pack to Bali,”

I rolled my eyes and responded “Really? How are they usually pack to Bali?”

“Most of my Jakartans tourists usually carry a bigger luggage than you both have, although only for 3 nights,” he said.

“Nah, it rare happened to us,” I chuckled to him.

The driver showed us the car, brought in our luggage, and off we began our long trip up to the North, Buleleng. The driver seemed confident when he assured that we would be staying at the Lovina. Since it was my first time to Buleleng, so I had no idea how close it was my Brother’s flying school with Lovina, my Mom had visited him earlier, but she seemed clueless too. We told the driver that we would stay at the Letkol Wisnu Airfield where Bali International Flying School is located, and he soon understood that we would be staying there.

“Oh the airfield, is in Pemuteran,” he told us.

“It’s about an hour from Lovina, Pemuteran is near Singaraja harbor,” he added. “Okay since this is a long journey, just relaxed and you may rest,”. Before that he also informed us that we might pass several tourist attractions and we could also make a stop over for a few minutes.

“Thank you.” I said – seeing my Mom who had fallen asleep earlier. The journey direction apparently was something that I never seen before. We were heading north and we were driving through hills and mountains.

Gedug hills was the first place where we decided to stop by. Actually we had no plans at all, to stop anywhere, though since I looked at my left window, the view was just amazing, I patted on the driver’s left shoulder and automatically the driver blinked the right sign and the car stopped immediately.

The road track  reminded me to Puncak hills in West Java, only the air here is literally fresher and cooler. I could feel how the fresh air had filled through my nose and it was really refreshing. I had been dying for a holiday for so long, and we walked a bit to the strawberry garden which located nearby. My mom said that she never seen this place before although she actually had gone to Buleleng before me.”Probably you just fell asleep during the trip,” I joked, and she agreed on it.

After spending 15 minutes at the strawberry garden, I instructed my Mom to return to the car, and we should have continued the journey. My feeling said that Gedug hill was just the first among several hills to go. Not much for a 4 hours ride, we just completed a third of the total journey.

When we entered the car, the driver asked if we needed anything, we said “Nothing else, we may continue to Buleleng,”

I was still curious though if there were any tourism sites that we might pass. He said “In 20 minutes we will reach Bedugul Lake,”

I suddenly recalled one of my friend’s story about her last visit to Bedugul, and she could ride on a speed boat around the lake. I was pretty interested, and I told my Mom that I wanted to see the lake. After 20 minutes ride, we arrived at the Bedugul Lake. First off, our driver parked the car at the local’s buffet restaurant across the Lake entrance. He suggested us to have lunch first there, and then we could walk to the Lake. Guess what? I guess we had just tricked by the driver. We were brought to a pretty much unreasonable buffet restaurant. Well, we didn’t just snap our displeasure towards the price of this resto, but the foods taste they offered were just not a satisfaction.

We attempted to forget what we’d had. As soon as we finished eating, we headed to the Lake. I was quiet tempted to rent the speed boat which priced Rp 100,000 for one boat for two passengers, including free shots – that I was amazed the speed boat driver had been equipped with a SLR camera for us. My mom became very enthusiastic too, she said she’d never wanted to take a ride on a speed boat before, but looking at the nice weather and the two mountains scenery behind made her willing to join me on the boat. The driver was a cool man whom we finally knew came from East Java, he drove us around the lake, and he offered to take a few shots for us using his camera and our camera.

“Where you come from Mas?” he asked.

“We are from Jakarta,” I said.

“Oh Jakarta, which part of Jakarta are you from? I lived there before,” he seemed to start a conversation with us. He directed the boat and turned off the ignition which made the boat stop at the middle of the lake. I think he knew that this is the best spot for a picture. He later opened his camera case and prepared his SLR.

“Wow, look what you have, are you well trained for it?” I asked curiously.

“Yeah, my basic skill is actually on photography, and they offered me this job to bring our guests on detour on a speed boat as I could still use my skill,” he said as he moved upon front deck, to capture our photo.

My mom and I were nearly shouted when scolding him for not moving to fast and quick since the boat got unstable on the water. I was totally nervous what if the boat might have capsized! The guy was just laughing, and he said “Don’t worry I’ve been working sometime with this boat, I knew how to control myself,”- But still we didn’t believe him, and I told him if I could try sitting on the front side of the boat.

As we were enjoying at the great scenery of Bedugul Lake, I was curious what kind of animals live around the lake.

“Is there any wild animals live here?” I asked as looking around at the cumulative trees on the side of the lake.

“We barely find any, the dangerous one might be buaya,” (Buaya: Crocodile).

I was stunned “Really?”

He laughed a little, “Yup, Buaya Darat Mas!” (Buaya Darat is an Indonesian phrase of “A Play Boy”)

Okay, done with the joke, we instructed him to continue the tour. Actually he offered us to stop at some points, – the Javanese cave, the Villas, and the Temple. But every time he mentioned each place and asked us to stop by or not we said “Nah. Maybe next time.” Our speed boat driver then asked us for a new experience, “What else it would be?” the question on my mind at that moment. The driver apparently took us in a faster speed with the boat, I believed it was in a maximum thrust and he did a slide maneuver.I looked at my Mom and she kinda enjoyed it, well she might have a little “ouch , and oh no-no” but think she was having fun.

Finally we took a final shot near the temple before docking back to the boat station. Overall, it was a nice tour! the driver later showed us the picture he captured on his camera, and offered whether we cared to print the picture by paying additional Rp 20,000 ($2) each. Not much for a free photographs, in the end this guy attempted to make his own business.

We returned to our car and met our driver. Guess we had been really tired after exploring the lake. The driver met us and said the journey would take for another 2 hours. We predicted we would arrive in the past afternoon around 3 pm. We decided to take a nap to save energy which at least we would not get too exhausted once we are there. Along the trip to Buleleng, apparently the terrain wasn’t as much as I expected. The narrow size road which only cope for two cars for two direction, steep descent, and sharp curving had been a jolly for my mood. I should grateful that I don’t get any car sickness. But as the result, I couldn’t really sleep throughout the journey.

And not longer after, the sea and the horizon were finally on my sight and I found out that we had reached Pemuteran coast line, and at around 5 minutes, I finally spotted a big board signage of Letkol Wisnu “Bali International Flying Academy”.I believe that we must turn right and we had arrived at one of the most famous Indonesian pilot school which commonly abbreviated to BIFA.

“Mom, wake up. I patted her shoulder telling that we had arrived. The only thing I didn’t know was where the Oma’s house was that will shelter us during the visit. My mom was directing the driver to turn around and made a left turn next to the dormitory house. I called my brother who apparently asleep after having one hour solo flight from Banyuwangi.

“Hi Oma! Hoe gaat het met jou!”I always greeted her in dutch. She spoke very well indeed as she told me that she and my late grandma used to speak in Dutch as well.

“Goede! hoe gaat het met jou?”

“Ik ben goede ook Oma,” I guess that’s all I could say to her.

The sun was definitely high, and the weather was clear. No clouds. I could feel how burn I was until I came into Oma Vera’s house and felt the coolness of the air conditioner. My brother finally came, he looked a bit bleary eyed, almost conscious. What made me surprise is that he was still wearing his uniform.

“You slept in that uniform?”

My brother said “Yeah, because we mustn’t take off this uniform until 4 pm,”

Now I understand.

As my Mother and Oma Vera began to talk in the living room, my brother invited me for a quick tour around his school. I guess this more than just a mood booster. “Let’s go, I’ll show you around,”

Without thinking for twice, I grabbed my camera that almost dead, and following my brother. He later knew that the battery was nearly empty and I didn’t bring the charger, he was just pity that I had started to forget things easily. We walked to see some of his friends at the school residence, the hangar, the planes, the control room. It was a very nice school I must say. Price speaks for its quality.

The thing is when BIFA firstly established in 2007 this school has invited many enthusiasts, especially the ones who have been dreaming to become pilot. As this private school offered a partnership with Garuda Indonesia, the largest airline in Indonesia. Therefore the students who are studying at BIFA will enjoy a direct entry facilities to Garuda once they complete their education. As of today, BIFA has had 8 batches in which 3 first batches have graduated and dealing with training with Garuda Indonesia.

“Which one did you fly for your first flight?” I asked him as looking at these Cessna on the hangar.

He pointed to the plane outside and he said that the plane was not locked and I was let to jump in. “C’mon let’s get in, I’ll take your picture from here,”

My brother looked a bit rushy, I wondered why. Then I realised it must have been the sun glare and the heat that nearly burned us. I even wore a black outfit. I tried the cockpit and asking him several questions about the cockpit. Well I might be familiar with the jet cockpit but for a propellers plane like Cessna, I bet I needed more explanations.

My brother captured this as I was observing the cockpit. This picture somehow, has invited many people attentions – as they were thinking I had started my pilot school. Starts from twitter, and Blackberry Messenger. I simply laughed, and told them that I haven’t gone yet, and I hope I could start soon.

Time flew fast while I was there. My brother took me back to his dormitory to show me around about his room, the sports facilities and everything that I should know. He reminded me to walk slowly since it’s afternoon nap time, and the students were mostly sleeping. Luckily my brother’s room mate and several his friends were up and I could inspect his room. After short chat, my mom called me to return to Oma’s house, so my brother walked me there and he pleased me to use the swimming pool or any sports facilities If I’d wished. Wow, apparently my clock had shown nearly 4 pm, and I thought, I should have been ready to use the swimming pool for nearly an hour or so, and that time was also used by the students for their sports time.

My sunset moment was spectacular, I was thinking then, that Kuta might be the perfect place to view the best sunset, and I might not the best look as what I could’ve seen in Kuta. But I was wrong, my room somehow had a patio which directed to the west, and the view was just amazing: runway, clouds, sunset, planes, hangar. I bet every aviation enthusiast must like this view.

The next day, I woke up a little bit late. I guess the previous day’s activities had emptied my stamina, and I really needed some recharge. My brother called me at 7 am, while I was ready to make a visit at the hangar. It was a brand new day, and the activity should have begun normal. My brother told me that several students of Batch 5 were going to fly that morning, and they had prepared things before flight, including waiting for their instructors. Apparently my brother solo flight scheduled still happened later in the afternoon.

I was still to excited to be on that place, the Cessnas were being warmed up, checked and some of them were ready to fly. One of my brother’s friend who was ready for his solo flight let me watch them how to turn on the transmitter, checking plane’s fuel availability, and checking the indicators. I must say wow, that one needed a well detailed capability.

At 8 am, the airfield situation became busier, engines were ignited on, and several students were making their ways. I returned to the cafetaria to eat some breakfast that Oma had served for us, and then we waited for our driver to arrive as we were scheduled to get back to Denpasar for a little fun time in Kuta. It was definitely a short visit, but I am sure I will come back soon 🙂 We used the same direction when we were driving back to Denpasar, I asked for a little time to capture some of the beauty of Northern’s Bali horizon from Pemuteran bay.

Menjangan Island. Only one hour ride with boat, you can snorkle there

Overall, my trip to Bali this time is truly different, and I really enjoyed it! Well, in spite of my enthusiasm and excitement to see my favorite things and learning about new things, but Northern Bali is actually a great place to be. If you were in Bali and only stay around Kuta, Ubud, or in the South area, I think it is very incomplete.

Buleleng should be a new tourism destination for tourists who crave for silence, and relaxation. Since this area is still not occupied by many tourists, the area still looks very clean, and untouchable. You may find the road around Buleleng is quiet dull, but you should understand what has existed behind the dullness. Apparently, many high class resorts are located in here. Apart from Lovina and its dolphins attractions that might have been popular out there, but,  the Pemuteran area has so many things to offer too such as Taman Sari Spa and Resort. The place is just wonderful, you can get Spa and Massage in a very affordable price, and fine dining near the beach with many great taste foods.  It’s all you can find here in Buleleng.


2 thoughts on “Northern Bali: Bedugul, Buleleng, and Bali International Flight Academy

  1. daniel tong says:

    what a great info on ur bali trip info. apakah saudaranya juga jadi sekolah di bali international flying school? kalau bisa tolong diinformasikan email, no telp, dan contact person di bali international flying school. saya rencana mau enroll di sana. bisa email di godanielcroz@yahoo.com . thanks 😀

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