This post is part of the Slow Bali article series.
Our driver turns left off a nicely-tarmacked road onto a much narrower unsealed one, and slows down as he does so, bracing himself for the bumps and pot holes ahead. As I’m the one who has done all the research, I can guess that, at this point, Feri is starting to ask himself whether our driver will proceed to stop the car,mug us at knife-point and leave us there in the darkness. I smile and squeeze his hand. In reality, it’s just that Mu is situated pretty much in the middle of nowhere on the Bukit peninsula, perched on the cliffs above Bingin beach, and this fact is precisely what has led me to book four nights here.
We arrive 30 minutes after first having been picked up at the airport. Our driver walks us in and shows us our beautiful bungalow, called Pintu. The mosquito net is draped around our bed ready for our arrival, and at 12:30 in the morning, there is no one around. He tells us that if we can’t sleep, we just need to walk for a few metres into the property to the pool area, where we can spend time lounging on the sun deck and listening to the ocean roar. We thank him and he leaves.
We head to our outdoor bathroom to check it out. It’s cute and beautifully furnished. I look at the large shower done in smooth, funky green pebbles instead of tiles, the full-length gilded mirror, the light fittings with shell covers, the large decorative gecko ornament hung onto the wall, the bamboo instead of conventional taps…what a minute…the decorative gecko, green with tiny red dots all over it, has just scrambled behind the mirror.
Before we head to sleep, we walk by the soft light of the moon towards a distance sound, which becomes louder and louder as we get closer, until we’re standing at the edge of the cliff, listening to the loud roar of the ocean, whose presence we can only tell of from its resonating voice, and the line of ships dotting the horizon.
Mu: The property
‘Mu Bungalow’ is the inspired creation of a French man called Jerome. During one of the usual communal dinners, I ask Richard, Jerome’s cousin and an employee at Mu for the past 6 months, how long the property had been in business. He smiles and tells us how Jerome had started the whole thing about 13 years earlier.
‘First, there was only that ballet’, he says pointing to the open, small bed on stilts by the cliff edge, covered with a thatched roof. ‘That’s where he slept. Then he built the bathroom and toilet by the pool, then the kitchen, then one by one all the bungalows’. Featuring names like Banyan, Matahari and Yoga, each bungalow is clearly a labour of love, and an ode to traditional outdoor living Bali style.
‘He never even uses drawn plans. He simply talks to workers, roughly explains what he would like, and somehow the bungalows are born’.
I asked Gerald about the monkeys which I know live around there. ‘Yes, there are monkeys’, he says. ‘And our staff often has to chase them away in the morning, threaten them with slings. Sometimes we wake up to find the kitchen completely trashed, and they like to come to this Cashew tree to eat the fruit’, he says, pointing to the tree which shelters the dining table.
‘They were here this morning’ says an Australian guest. ‘At around 8 am’. I frown because I want to see the monkeys, and because that morning I had slept too much and missed them.
Mu: The common area
While the bungalows are beautiful, the crowning glory of Mu is its common area. It doesn’t matter whether your bungalow has a sea view or not, as all you need to do is walk for a few metres to reach the lounging and pool area, right at the edge of a cliff with unobstructed views of the ocean and crashing waves. I spent my entire day here swimming in the beautiful infinity pool, contemplating the view from the jacuzzi and reading and napping on the cliff-top Indonesian ballet.
Mu: The food
Unless you rent a car or a motorbike and drive for at least 30 minutes or hire a taxi, there is very little around Mu (which I loved, as I wanted to be somewhere away from it all). Having neither, I decided to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at Mu, and didn’t regret it. Breakfast is included in the price and features fruit salads, eggs made to order, and mouth-watering fresh fruit juices, home-made breads and home-made jams. Lunch is usually a choice of salads and baguettes, and costs 45,000 rupiah. Dinner is a communal affair. Every day the staff of Mu will ask you if you will have dinner at the property. According to this, they will proceed to cook a scrumptious Indonesia/Western/French affair which you eat while seated at the same table as all other guests, helping yourself to the platters on offer. At 140,000 rupiah, this is definitely not cheap by Balinese standards, but there is always enough food for a second helping as well as dessert. Apart from this, Mu’s dinner was the best dinner I had during my two weeks in Bali, hands down.
Mu: The surroundings
As I’ve already mentioned, I opted to stay at the property for my three days there, as the plan was pretty much to unwind and enjoy some quiet time of thinking, lounging and reading. However, if you want to go somewhere without using transport, you can head down to Bingin beach. To do this, you need to be at least mildly fit. The path down to the beach is composed of a long series of steepish steps (a bit more than a hundred) which I’m ashamed to admit I struggled to climb back up. Other than that, get a car with driver or a motorbike and explore the cliffs and beaches of the peninsula, as well as Pura Uluwatu, and you can comfortably fill a couple of days. Jimbaran is also close, as is Nusa Dua.
Mu: The guests
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against any kind of traveller, but let’s just say that I loved Mu because all the guests there seem, well, really cool. The bungalows cannot be booked via travel accommodation sites, and the booking process needs to be done by emailing the staff and then making a deposit via bank transfer. The open living bungalows which permit geckos, spiders and mosquitoes to visit your sleeping area also discourage those without a bit of an adventurous spirit.
Whether you’re travelling solo or with friends, the communal dinners are an excellent and easy way to strike up conversations with fellow guests, and while I consider myself slightly asocial while travelling, I must admit that I enjoyed getting to know the people I was sharing a meal with.
One my last day at Mu, I head out as usual for the breakfast which I’ve grown to love and am sure I will miss. As I munch away on the fresh bread, a cashew fruit falls with a loud thud onto the table. I think that it would have hurt if it had fallen on my head. The tree branches rustle. I smile at a fellow guest and comment on the fallen cashew fruit. She smiles back and points at the tree. ‘Monkeys’, she whispers. I look up and there they are, three monkeys greedily chewing the bright yellow fruits.
One of the staff members promptly takes out a sling. She makes loud noises with a stick and shows the sling to the monkeys, which, familiar with the object and what it can do, start retreating, and scamper off, disappearing into the vertical face of the cliff.
Editor’s note: This is NOT a sponsored post. Mu did not pay me to write this post nor offer free accommodation. When during my travels, I come across some amazing places and products, I love to recommend them to travellers.
-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @ www.theartofslowtravel.com