We arrived in the evening at Bali's airport a few hours ahead of our Seattle friend and fellow traveler, Susan. When Susan arrived we headed straight to our first destination, Ubud. Ubud is known for its tarraced rice paddies, so we were all picturing a rural sort of experience. What we found was an active town, very much set up for tourists. Ubud has tons of restaurants, a big market, and over 130 massage places!
We stayed at Jati Homestay, which consisted of several hotel-like rooms within a family compound. The compound is owned by an artist family, so there was beautiful art everywhere. Art is a big part of the culture in Bali, and everywhere we went we saw statues, paintings and wood carvings.
The population in Bail is mostly Hindu, and there were offerings to the gods on the sidwalks and everywhere. There were also tons of flowers everywhere.
Ubud is the home of the Monkey Forest, a temple area full of monkeys. The locals at the Monkey Forest sold bananas to tourists and encouraged a lot of interaction with the monkeys. Upon arriving at the forest, a monkey grabbed and bit a bottle of water Mary was carrying. So we stayed a nice distant away. We witnessed a lot of very irresponsible tourism, like people handing trash and water bottles to the monkeys. The monkeys were cute, but it was a shame to see how much the tourism there shapes their lives.
After the Monkey Forest we walked around town for a bit, checked out the markets, and got a massage. Balinese massages are amazing. We have had many massages on this trip in all different contries, and we agree Bali is the best. In many of the other places we have been, the massages are somewhat painful while they are happening, but you feel loose after. Balinese massage, while possibly less theraputic in the long run, feels good while it is happening. Its a nice way to mix it up from the bruise-inducing Thai massages!
On our second day in Ubud we hiked to the rice fields. It was really hot and humid, but worth the sweaty climb to see the countryside that Ubud is supposed to be all about. It was very beautiful and relaxing. We had lunch in an organic restaurant with an amazing view.
After our tour of Ubud, we hired a car to take us up north to Bedugul. In many of the countries we've travelled, we've found drivers get kickbacks when they bring their passengers to certain tourist attractions. We told our driver we wanted to go to Bedugul, and stop at one hot spring along the way. He ended up taking us to a silver factory/store, a painting house, a wood carving house, and a coffee plantation along the way. Unexpected detours, but it turned out to be a nice little day tour.
Bedugul is up in the mountains/large hills, near Lake Bratan. Lake Bratan has a beautiful old temple on it that is often featured on postcards and tourbook images of Bali. We stayed at a bed and breakfast type pleace called Strawberry Hill, which featured an organic strawberry farm. It was about ten degrees cooler than Ubud, and really beautiful. The flowers (which are amazing all over Bali) were especially beautiful in this region.
We walked about 2km down a winding road to get to Lake Bratan. We walked through town, which was very small with a little market. The lake and temple were beautiful, with lots of people in the traditional lace clothing of the area.
We spent our last night in Bedugul playing darts in the hotel restaurant/game room/bar. It was very fun and relaxing. We got up early the next day to finally hit the Bali beaches! We took a car down to Sanur, a sleepier beach area than the more famous Kuta. We wanted the relaxing expierience. Unfortunately, Susan had some food poisoning our first day there which made the day rough for her, but we still managed to go to the ocean for a bit and check out a spa. The spa scene in Sanur is not as good as Ubud, but there are still a lot of options. The beach is a bit rocky, but incredibly warm and calm due to a natural or man made barricade. The waves are crashing hard on some distant barrier, but the part for swimming closer to shore is like a bathtub.
After a final day of beach and pool, Susan had to head back to Seattle. We had a few more days in Bali, so we took a day trip to Dreamland Beach and Uluwatu. Dreamland Beach is on the west coast of Bali, the other side from Sanur. It was completely different, with huge crashing waves and smoother sand. There were tons of surfers who were fun to watch.
Uluwatu is a famous temple on the southern tip of Bali, which was once only used by royaltty as a place of worship. It is on a huge cliff and the waves crashing up against the cliff are truely magnificant. It is known as a place to watch the sunset, so we made sure to get there in time for that. The only downside was the presence vicious monkeys, but we managed to escape unscathed.
Our pictures do not do Uluwatu justice because the connecter from our camera to our iPad broke and we had to resort to iPad pictures. Our iPad is old and the camera is not great, so hopefully we find a solution shortly! The sunset was really lovely. On our last full day in Bali, we woke up at 5:30 to see the sunrise over the ocean. It was definitely worth the early wake up.
Next stop: Perth, Australia!