Bali is an island dream.
It offers everything you may expect from a paradise. Beautiful ocean vistas, rice paddies, coconut trees, temples, mountains, lakes. It is filled with, what must be some of the most friendly and helpful people out there. There is good food on offer. The sun shines, the grass is green and the water is warm. Could you possibly ask for more?
And I was lucky enough to spend 11 days there!
The first stop was Ubud, a bustling village in the verdant landscape of central-east (east- central?) Bali.
So, here are some things we did with our time in Ubud:
Ate the delicious Bali specialty, babi guling. Tender and juicy roast pig! Most restaurants require you to pre order the meal at least 24 hours in advance. It might seem like a hassle, but it is well worth it. You’ll also be asked to put down a deposit, we had to pay 50 000 Rupees. Do it!
Went to a spa. Ahh, what glorious, cheap, therapeutic and relaxing bliss! There are little salons all over the place offering massages, manicures, facials and anything else you would require to feel relaxed! We went to a place about a 10minute drive from the center of Ubud called Putri Bali. They come to pick you up, give you ginger tea and extend your 2hour session to 3 just because they take such good care of you (and my nails needed a lot of work to make them look pretty)!
Hired a driver to take us to Mount Batur and the Batur hot springs.The 1.5 hour hike to the summit is done in the cool, dark hours before dawn. This makes for an interesting start to your day. From Ubud we had to get up at 3am, drive for an hour and start hiking at 4am to beat the sun. Our guide gave us each a torch and then marched us off into the darkness. It can be rather hairy hiking in the dark, so make sure to wear closed shoes. Hiking sandals are not recommended! (You’ll thank me when you are descending down what can only be described as a sand dune interspersed with sharp rocks.) The hot springs on the shores of Batur Lake are beautiful and very relaxing after a pre-dawn hike.
Went to the zoo.Now, I’m not a massive fan of zoos as I have been spoilt with being able to see the real thing back in South Africa. But my travel companions were excited about the prospects of seeing a white tiger, and their excitement can be rather infectious. So along we went. And we saw the white tigers, which are impressive beasts, I must admit. We also saw an educational elephant show, got to feed the ellies and,highlight, got to hold a baby orangutan! Let me warn you that the water park is pretty much just a swimming pool with a slide or two. And the amusement park is a slow mechanical boat along a circular stream (that or a flying ferris wheel type affair). The safari was pretty decent. They load you into a truck and drive you around various regions, like SE Asia and Africa, that they have created.
Hired scooters!On our last day in Ubud we hired scooters and headed off into the countryside, viaMonkey Forest Road. It was a good day! I loved the monkeys, but seriously,don’t even reach for your bag, you’ll be pounced on. I warned you!
While we were in Ubud we were also lucky enough to see the cremation ceremony of the dead (duh!) queen. Apparently the town had been under preparation for 3 months. The body was placed in a sarchophogus of a massive bull and carried (yes, carried, all 8tons of it) down the main drag of Ubud by teams of local men. The whole village rallied together for the cremation and it felt like everyone was out to witness the happenings.
We then extended the rental of the scooters for the next 6 days and headed off for the coast!