Tejakula : A Journey Back in Time
Fine dining and fancy boutiques you won’t find, but this quiet corner of Bali has oodles to offer in terms of untouched nature and bygone traditions.
Finding a parcel of paradise untouched by tourism is near impossible in Bali these days. But Tejakula on Bali’s north-east coast is about the closest you’ll get.
Fringed by rocky, palm-lined beaches, the picturesque region sits between mountain and sea with only a smattering of accommodation options and zero in terms of nightlife or non-local eateries. Instead, it offers old-world village ambience, unobstructed ocean views, and a vibrant artisan community.
The few travellers who brave the 2.5-hour drive from South Bali stay beachfront. Gaia Oasis’ bamboo bungalows are a great bet, set within tropical gardens and coconut groves overlooking the sea. Get in some early-morning me time with a stroll along the black sand and pebble beach out front. Day clubs and bikini-clad beauties are non-existent here, but you’ll likely see the multi-hued jukung (traditional fishing boats) dart into shore with their morning haul. Dolphins can occasionally be spotted in the distance, too.
For those on the search for wildlife, you can organise a sunrise dolphin-spotting tour. Unlike the noisy power boats that chase the poor creatures in Lovina, a local skipper will tour you around in a more marine-friendly fishing boat for two.
Sightings aren’t guaranteed, but getting out onto the ocean is worth it for the dawn colours and dramatic views of the quietly rumbling Mount Agung. If you stay at Gaia Oasis, they will be able to organise this for you.
There are historic sights to see in Tejakula, too. A short drive away, just off the main street, are the old public baths (pemandian umum) with larger adjoining compartments that were used for horses in times gone past. Behind the elaborately decorated walls, the community still take their daily showers in the stream-fed bathing areas for pria (men) and wanita (women).
Also worth a visit is Surya Indigo, a textiles workshop just along the road in Pacung. Ceremonial bebali cloths are the specialty, but the cooperative also works with weavers in East Bali to produce rangrang (zig-zag motif fabrics) and songket threaded with gold.
Watching the weavers hand-loom these precious lengths of cloth the traditional way is mesmerising. And even better, all of the products are fashioned from naturally dyed threads. Botanicals like turmeric, morinda tree root, and indigo plants create the colouring for yellow, red, and blue. Ask Pak Nyoman for a garden tour to learn more.
Speaking a little Indonesian here definitely helps, but you’ll be able to pick up a wow-factor wall hanging or table runner for between IDR 800,000 and IDR 2,000,000.
If fancy fabrics aren’t your thing, check out Amrita Salt Farm to see Tejakula’s salt farmers turn seawater into crystals of Bali’s most sought-after salt. The artisanal grains are produced by evaporating sea water under the sun, the oldest technique of the trade.
Come early to watch the farmers loosening the soil of the salt fields before sprinkling the surface with seawater. In the afternoon, the soil is loaded into a cone-shaped filter—or ‘tinjungan’—made of bamboo. Water is added to the mix and slowly, filtered seawater drips into a separate container.
After a couple of days sitting in hollowed-out bamboo trunks under the sun, salt crystals start to form. Though the farm isn’t officially open to visitors (unless you’re staying at the Amrita Salt Farm Villas), the manager, Pak Kadek, is happy to chat salt-making if you pop in and buy a few bags. Pyramid crystals, fine grains, and flavoured salt are all available for purchase.
Just like Amrita’s salt farm by the sea, Tejakula is a region that’s both idyllic and old-fashioned. Some say a visit is akin to stepping back in time, with little tourist infrastructure and a local community that carries on as it has for decades. It’s a world away from loud and frenetic South Bali but that’s exactly where its appeal lies. Let’s hope this quiet corner of Bali remains so for years to come.
Stying in Tejakula
Jalan Raya Singaraja-Amlapura
+62 362 3436305 / 3306872
Amrita Salt Farm Villas
Jalan Kayu Dui
0852 3735 0144