Ridge Walk

Well not sure why that got all the rave reviews on google. I try not to have expectations, but the reviews and then locals we met had all said the ridge was “really beautiful” and “amazing”. But it was just an overgrown path that you could have found behind any council estate set of garages. Except this one had a few palm trees…

After a lot of waiting and crowd dodging, I got this one good photo. The view was ok, but getting to the ridge walk actually ended up being far more interesting.

We decided to walk a circuit out from our hotel, up the road, around the head of the gorge and then down the ridge, before rejoining the road back up to the hotel. All in all, about 8 km so no big deal. Except it was the heat of the day by the time we set off and very soon we were dripping. This is still the coolest place we have been on the entire trip. The breeze is actually effective at cooling you down, which makes a change.

It was smooth, smoggy walking, following the road, pretty straightforward. We reached the turn into the dead-end-for-cars road and got a small view of some paddies being repaired. Workers were slapping grassy sod into where a bank had partially collapsed. 

Now following a much quieter track, there were several large development sites in progress. Chatting with the bar manager later that evening I found out that you don’t buy land here, you lease it for 30 years at a time. Most of the larger developments going up are Russian, Japanese or Swiss money. He also told me that you can buy (lease for 30 years) a 10m x 10m parcel of land here, away from Ubud (touristy expensive area) for around 300,000,000 IDR (about £15,000). And for about 700,000,000 IDR (about £35,000) you can build and decorate a really nice house.

We walked past the development we can see from our hotel. They are offering some incredible rates of return. Between 16-22% which is incredibly high and entering the realms of unrealistic. The risk must be quite high on these. Not something I’m interested in. Especially when the bar manager said that for 9 out of 12 months they only get about 50% occupancy here. And this is a really nice, 5 star hotel that’s been in operation for over 20 years. Only during high season do they get 100% occupancy.

From the ridge we also got a good look at the unfinished building work at our hotel. Where we are staying is mainly villars, but they have started to build a hotel block further down the hill. Then Covid happened and stopped progress in its tracks, so it’s laying empty now, waiting to get started again.

The end of the ridge walk finished at the janky bridge leading into Ubud. This is where the rivers on either side of the ridge join and there is a solitary temple perched on the end. No chance of getting a picture of all of it. Too many random cables criss crossing the view and too much rubbish on the river bank. This is the best I could get while dodging the relentless traffic.

We chose to indulge this evening with room service and watching Grand Tour in bed. They are funny bastards.