Driving up a narrow road through the valley I couldn’t believe how beautiful the constantly changing view was. Dry rocks snaking through the green trees, evidence of a flowing river in the wet season. An abundance of rice fields separated by little huts. Finally a view between the sharp hills down to the sea 5km away.
Leaving the sleepy beach side town of Amed behind, I was on my way to a little village called Bangle where there are five holy springs. The springs were well sign posted and once I reached Bangle I soon found myself turning off the main road onto a very small path, which after 100 meters came to an abrupt stop. There was already one bike parked, I pulled up next to it. It was time to start walking.
The First Spring
The path was easy to follow so I stopped regularly to admire the stunning countryside and take photographs. It wasn’t long before a local man (Ketut) appeared behind me. He asked if I was going to the springs and said he was also going so would show me the way. I knew he would ask me for some money, but I figured it would be nice to be able to ask him questions about the springs.
Soon I became glad to have a guide as the path split a few times and I nearly went the wrong way. I let Ketut lead the way and soon we arrived at the first of the springs. There was a small shrine and a pipe coming out of the wall with water flowing from it. “Drink” Ketut said with a smile. It tasted sweet.
We sat on the steps of the shrine and I started asking my questions. I discovered that this is the first of the five springs and each one has a different taste depending on which volcanic rocks the water has been running over. They are holy because all of the water used in the village of Bangle comes from these five springs. They are thought to be a gift from the gods. The water is often used in traditional ceremonies because of its healing properties, also bestowed by the gods.
We continued walking along narrow paths through the jungle. It was often steep and slippery, good shoes are useful. At the second spring Ketut scooped up some of the gray mud and told me to wash my hands with it. This is supposed to be good for the skin. This spring also tasted sweet but slightly saltier than the first.
From here we continued to climb and started to have wonderful views of the village below us. We passed the third spring (a bitter taste), large bamboo plants, and a few houses with cattle and pigs before crossing a road. Not far from the road was the waterfall. It was the dry season but there was still a fair amount of water falling down the 10 meter high cliff face.
After climbing a tree to collect coconuts we sat in his little hut, surrounded by chickens. Drinking the water from the coconut Ketut told me how he works as a farmer supplying chickens for ceremonies. For each chicken he will earn 10,000 rupiah (less than $1) but in a good month from the whole of his farm he can earn 4 million rupiah a month ($300)
When I had finished the coconut water I said it was time for me too leave. Ketut walked me back to my motorbike. I thanked him for the tour and gave him 50,00 rupiah. I would have got completely lost without him.