Oemah Joglo

The last thing I wanted to do was haggle; not after two cancelled Uber rides and being forced to listen to a know-it-all tourist. Side track: I didn’t need a lecture on how to play with stray dogs, their diseases or the 20 countries that qualified such wisdom.

So I left Pablo, my travel buddy, to work his charms, tuned out Ubud’s background soundtrack and just followed along. Ah, the lazy bubble.

Pablo popped it with a wave. He had found a driver who couldn’t catch the address. “Villa Oemah Joglo. Jalan Raya Mambal Semana,” I offered in a languid accent, a dead giveaway that I was from the Malayan peninsula. Thankfully, he got it and after a little more back-and-forth and we were off.

As we drove, the crowded town faded into dense jungle, then opened out to crop fields and rice padis – the first real chance I got to enjoy a Balinese panorama. We followed the pin on Google maps… And went past it completely. Backtracked. Called the host. More sonorous staccato exchanges in Bahasa. We’d arrived. A smooth 17-min drive.

Main villa and pool (partial)
Raised viewing deck
Me, chatting with hosts and struggling to ignore the pool.

I barely managed the necessary polite exchanges – pool, pool, pool! Again, Pablo did most of the heavy lifting like the adult he was. Eventually, our hosts left the entire villa to us – I was already in a bikini.

The days that followed were peppered with conversation, late afternoon dips in the pool, tranquil sunrises with a view to the volcanoes and pastoral activity. The villa was cosy enough for HTHT (Singlish: heart-to-heart-talk) with an old friend, yet big enough that there were corners I could hide in my own cocoon (e.g. my own room, viewing deck).

Sunrise, seen from the viewing deck.
Crop fields and Gunung Batur in the distance.
Farmland with Gunung Agung in the background

While living in the city meant luxurious convenience, there was nothing quite like being the only two tourists with nothing but rural kilometres around. Transport and food were easy to manage with rented motorcycles and basic amenities nearby. In fact, the popular temples and waterfalls were usually an easy 10-20 minute ride away with the exception of Pura Tirta Empul, which was more of a half-day excursion. Moving around only ever became a pain – a real, nerve-wracking pain – when we were caught in a torrential downpour (that caused a mild flash flood) and we somehow ended up on a steep, winding trunk road back to the villa.

Just plain old bad luck that could have struck anyone.

Except that, well, I was the idiot navigator who made Pablo miss a turn, U-turn and the picked that accursed trunk road from hell.

Travel notes

  • Address: Banjar Umahanyar, Mambal, Abiansemal, Badung Regency, Bali 80352, Indonesia
  • Booking accepted through Booking.com
  • Motorcycle rentals and hiking tours can be arranged via the host family


Written, photographed and post-processed by Celeste Choo

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