Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Imagine a 'secret jungle' with inquisitive monkeys who rule over sacred temples and century old banyan trees. Sit quietly and hear the sounds of rushing ravines.....drift a little.....see and smell the vivid colour of flower offerings and sweet Balinese incense. This isn't Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World," it's the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest, a must-see attraction for any visitor to Bali, 'Island of the Gods.'While staying at the spectacular eco-conscious Fivelements Puri Ahimsa wellness retreat, I ventured out to one of Bali's most popular attractions, the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest. Officially known as the Padangtegal Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, the site contains 27 acres of protected grounds, 605 long-tailed macaque monkeys, and three 14th-century temples.The forest is located minutes from the main strip of Ubud, the 'Cultural Heart of Bali.' You can purchase bananas on-site to feed the monkeys, make sure to carefully conceal the fruit in a backpack because the monkeys will at random, jump on to you for a free meal. This is all apart of the fun. When you are ready to feed them, take one banana out at a time, this will prevent any accidental bites. I have read many reviews about aggressive behavior from the monkeys, I did witness it for myself, but was never bitten. Most aggression cases have happened because of improper feeding; if you take one banana out at a time, watch your surroundings, and do not taunt the monkeys (especially the mature ones!) this will help to ensure a safe and highly enjoyable interaction. Also note, if you have no bananas, food, or hand-held items the monkeys will typically be unfazed by your presence, allowing visitors who want a little distance to have a great time too. I give this attraction a 10/10, it's literally a 'barrel of monkeys' fun!
This is a Hindu temple, and a popular tourist attraction. To get there, buy your ticket, and walk (run?) past the numerous vendors selling the usual range of tourist trinkets. Then descend some steps and you are in the temple area. There are numerous Hindu structures, figures and symbols, all in stone. What you are looking for is the entrance to the cave. This is immediately obvious, due to the large, demonic figure carved in and around the cave entrance. Walk in, take a little care as the floor is slippery, and you will come to a T junction a few metres in. At both ends of the T are lingam and yoni statues, and a statue of Ganesha. Feel free to take a photo, everyone else, including the locals does. You can take a short jungle hike on several paths leading from the temple.
Its one of the most favourite tourist destination. It has a magnificent view of the Mount Batur, which is still an active volcano and serene calm lake batur flowing down the lane. The temperature here is at least 15 degree less than the temperature of bali. We were fortunate to witness a mesmerizing sight of both rain and sun at the same time during our visit. You may just choose a restaurant with a view of Kintamani to sip a coffee or get high over a few bottles of local Lemon flavored "Bintang" beer.Although we didn’t go ahead for a trek, but for those who love to do it, can actually trek over mount Batur. It is a 2 hour trek to see the sunrise, and the rays creating those sprinkle of diamond dust look on the lake.
"So this is the place I should have been for the last two months", was my first thought as I wound my way through a sexily curved hill. Padang Bai is a small, annexed fishing village with a little bay, a secret white sand beach (that's the beach's actual name) a few warungs and guest houses and some deep emerald hills directly behind. Despite its' fishy orientation there's a freshness there that is missing in South Bali. It's the lack of bike fumes and rubbish. Most people pass through on their way to get their rocks off on Gilli-T. Big mistake, this place gets my vibe.
Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul is a holy water temple, sourced from the sacred Tampak Siring spring. This 1,000 year old temple has largely been unchanged. The temple houses purification pools for locals who practice Balinese Hinduism. The temple's long rectilinear pools are carved out of stone, and feature fountainheads that fill the pools with the holy spring water. Worshippers first make an offering in the inner-court temple, then climb into the main pool to bathe, pray, and collect the water in bottles to take home. The water is believed to have curative and prosperous powers. I certainly felt refreshed and renewed after taking a dip!Tirta Empul Temple includes the traditional Balinese split gate architecture (photographed below) along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Bali's Mt. Batur, and Indra. On the grounds is a large community pavilion, where you will see many families and tourist relaxing and taking in this wonderful site.Tirta Empul is located in the village of Tampak Siring, you can drive independently via google maps (as I did) or have your hotel's concierge arrange transportation. The drive is spectacularly scenic, you will cross narrow bridges, see verdant junglescapes and paddy fields, venture through tiny villages, and come across hundreds of ancient temples along the winding road. The drive is 30 minutes from Ubud.
If you’re just going to see one temple then you may as well make it the biggest and best. Besakih or ‘Mother Temple’ is impressive any time but even more so if you can visit during one of the big ceremonies that happen only very rarely. I’ve heard tourists having a lot of problems visiting here because they’re forced to hire a guide so I say wear balinese dress and find a balinese family to bring you :)
Lake Batur is the widest lake in this island. It lies next to an active volcano. You can enjoy the spectacular scenery of the lake along with the hot spring by the lake. To capture the glorious sunrise overlooking the lake, you can even opt for a sunrise trekking tour on Mount Batur. Engage in the spiritual mountains while attaining peace amid lush green tress, wide lakes and cold atmosphere.
Ubud is a wonderful affordable arts-driven town in Bali, well inland from the tourist-crazy beach areas of Kuta and Legion. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes to get from Kuta Beach to Ubud. In Ubud, home of the Balinese royal family, we saw the Puri Agung Ubud building a bade (cremation tower) and an enormous twenty-foot papier-mâché bull for a cremation ceremony for Prince Tjokorda Putra Dharma Yudha. We didn't have anything else planned so we decided to attend. Johnny, a dive master and member of the local band, T-WRECK, told us we were lucky (b-ungtung in Balinese) to see such a large ceremony — or to see one at all. The last royal cremation occurred two years ago. Many of the locals we befriended in the diving meccas of Amed and Tulamben explained that they could not afford to attend but would have loved to join us on the big day. Wayan, the owner of the Puri Madha Beach Bungalows in Tulamben, who had organized a cremation ceremony for a family member the year before, said that a ceremony on the lower end might cost 200 million Rupia ($20,000 USD) and estimated that the cost for the king’s cremation would be more than ten times that amount. To our surprise, the ceremony was a happy event. In Hindu culture, the burning of the dead is a sacred ritual that frees the soul inside so that it can be reincarnated. During the ceremony, the authorities turned off the electricity in the city so that when the hulking bade moved down Raya Ubud no one would get shocked if it happened to brush against the power wires. As it was explained to me by Wayan, the prince “was very well-liked.” Greg Roach of Spirit Quest Tours told me that much of modern day Balinese society has roots in the ancient Royal Court of Java, cremation rituals included. The ceremonies always utilize the same elements—the bull, the tower, and the burning. “When someone dies, they are buried,” Roach explained, “Later, the body is disinterred and the bones are burned."
Ubud is 40 km from Batur and is said to be a cultural capital of Bali. Ubud enjoys cooler temperatures than the coast. It once served as the major source of medicinal herbs and the healing tradition in still deeply ingrained in the people here. If you are looking for beads, Buddha, barong and Balinese traditional carvings, silver jewelry, pearls, handmade leather bags, Batik scarves and pashminas, Jalan Raya Ubud is the place for you. You will get some of the best deals here. The culturally rich vibe of this area is waiting to entrap you. The traditional market is from 5am until 9am. Spend some time relaxing at Bali Botanical Day Spa with a range of revitalizing treats. At night retreat to Oka Wati’s Homestay which has been sheltering tourists since 1980. Once you are here, you know you are in the right place away from all the noise. Spend a quiet night here in the middle of Ubud in the rustic charm of this house.
Taman Ayun Temple
This four century old Hindu temple is located in Mengwi village, about 18km from Denpasar. The village itself is worth a visit. The temple is separated from the surrounding land by a moat and a series of garden terraces. Entry into the grounds is not allowed to visitor, but the inner buildings can be seen, and photographed. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained, and with lots of tourists.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple
En-route, we visited Gunung Kawi and Tirtha Empul. Gunung Kawi is a temple complex, where 10-rock cut shrines have been carved into around 23ft of cliff face. There are five temples on the east side, which belong to King Udayana, his wife and three sons. On the west side, there are similar temples that belong to the king’s minor queens.
At Ubud Market, Bargain is key as the prices they did set for me as a ‘last price’ had gone down to literally half the price than first quoted. People here are friendly, some willing to help with sole intention of being friendly and some try their deciduous luck on offering a price to the assistance.Abundance of Landscapes and FoodThe greenery and the praying behaviour here takes me back to gods own country – Kerala. Having said that, the lush of coconut trees, banana, rice and the perfectly manicured paddy fields creates Bali what it is and none alike. The paddy fields at Jatiluwih (Rice terrace) follow the traditional irrigation system called the Subak.The Balinese seem to make use of things that grow in their own land from rice, coffee, clove, to lettuce. My food is mostly rice stacked like an upside-down bowl with chicken satay as a side dish – complete with ginger dressing. The food is placed on a circle shaped banana leaf. Indonesian breakfast comes heavy with rice and noodles – not for a light eater like me. So my options have been toast and egg, with fruits and Bali black kope (coffee) or white kope sachez. Warungs (family owned restaurants) serves the cheapest yet tasty food. One of the best warung food we had was at One homestay; food is cheap and tasty, and the view is to die for.Diverse Weather Conditions
Barong dance narrates the story of fighting between evil and good. The masks used are considered sacred items, and before they are brought out, a priest must be present to offer blessings by sprinkling them with holy water taken from Mount Agung, and offerings must be presented. If you're keen to learn more about the culture and beliefs of bali, you can make a trip down Obyek Wisata Budaya Sahadewa for this 1 hour show. The ticket will cost you around Rp 100,000
Along the eastern side lies the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali: Pura Besakih. This over a thousand year’s old temple is also known as "Mother Temple of Bali". Located 1000 meters high on the slopes of the volcano Mt. Agung it is an extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples.
The Yoga Barn
Ubud is identical with yoga. People from all around the world come to Ubud to learn yoga, from professionals to beginners. The quiet and cozy atmosphere is the best place for doing yoga. You can do yoga while enjoying the view of green rice fields, parks, rivers and the fresh clean air. Some hotels in Ubud also provide yoga facilities.One of the most famous places in Ubud to do yoga is Yoga Barn which is located in Hanoman Road. There are various classes that you can choose while enjoying the sight of Ubud.WATCH KECAK API DANCE AT NIGHTIf you come to Ubud, make sure that you go watching the performance of Kecak api dance. Kecak dance is one of the attractions of the Gods Island. Cak.. Cak.. Cak..! That is such a distinctive sounds that come from the Kecak dancers. Kecak dance is usually done at night starting at 7 pm. The total numbers of the dancers are 50 to 70 dancers and all the dancers are males. Kecak is a Hindu sacred dance as many dancers are unconscious while dancing on stage.
Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking
Yes, this is hard work ; Especially trekking at 3 AM in the morning and all I can say is , IT IS WORTH IT!. I packed like a girl with flip flops and no sports shoes and I still managed to trek in the loose volcanic sand and stones for around 1.5 hours to 2 hours. I could see people flashing their torch light at my silver shiny disco flats as they panted and overtook me. But meh, same destination. I met them all up there and saw the same sunrise they did. Raw beauty of nature intimidates me and that is what happened there. Just staring straight ahead while the sun was rising was all I needed to be at peace with myself for rest of my trip. Please pack proper shoes and a nice light jacket to face the chilly wind up there, unlike me.
Here visitors can lounge in the pool underneath, letting the thundering water splash around you. If you can climb down stairs and back up, you can easily visit the water fall in an hour. If you are gun for a trek then this one is apt for you. Its a good 20-30 minutes of trek over a patch of rough rocks, do ensure that you have your sports shoes on as its time to burn some of those extra pounds.
Teba Sari Bali Agrotourism
2.30pm to 3.30pm Coffee tasting at the Teba Sari bali agrotourism. We finally decided to give the famous Luwak coffee a try (very strong and smoky in flavour). Tasting a cup of Luwak coffee was around 50,000IDR, however, the plantation also specializes in other flavours (Spiced chocolate coffee, mangosteen tea, vanilla coffee, etc) that are equally great for free. The plantation also has a store from where one could purchase coffee/tea.
Over here the coffee processing is done in an organic way. Drying, roasting etc. is still carried out using natural tools such as pans made out of clay. You will get to try a wide range of coffee's. You may be seated overlooking the rice plantation and sip through these coffees. Out of the total range, we enjoyed Vanilla & Ginger the most.You will be enthralled to see the process of making, one of the most expensive coffee named Kopi Luwak. Its made with coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian Palm Civet ( one type of cat). Although, its been promoted all across Bali, we didn't enjoy the strong bitter flavor.
We stayed at Villa Sanggingan on Jalan Sanggingan and it was fantastic. The staff is incredible. Located near the Alberto Blanco museum where we went in 2008 with Dov Fraser for the Ubud Writers Festival, this area is removed from the main tourist strip. The hotel is available on Asiarooms.com, Booking.com and Agoda.com. We stayed five nights and ate at several great warungs, including the famous N as well as Fuzion Café on Jalan Lungsiakan, which felt like dining in a rice field. I thought the décor was charming; this is one of the original hotels in the area and along with the Neka Art Museum, has been there more than twenty years. Bagus (Good) Laundry was great, too. I have to admit clean clothes, fresh from the laundry, are one of my favorite things!
Jati Home Stay
Jati Homestay is right in the middle of Ubud. Almost all the places are just walking distance from this location. The people there are very friendly and everyday along with breakfast, the owner will come and sit with us and help us with our itinerary. They even arranged cars for us to go to Mount Batur Sunrise Trek and gave us tickets for the Kecak dance, all at the bare minimum expense.
Mara River Safari Lodge
Day 3: Bali Safari and Marine ParkIt was time to say goodbye to our beautiful villa in Seminyak and move towards our next home Mara River Safari Lodge. On the way we covered Uluwatu temple. Rested on a high cliff this temple offers beautiful views. However it was something that we could have skipped easily. Next we went to Pandava beach. Situated right on the southern end of Bali this is a beautiful beach with clear blue waters and statues of five pandavas. If you want to do parasailing then this is the place to be. Since we were running late we missed the parasailing part but we enjoyed a lot at beach.Travel tip: If you want to save money on food then instead of eating in restaurants try local vendors. In bali there is no service charge therefore do not forget to give tip.Finally we reached Mara River Safari Lodge. This was highlight of my trip.
Bali Silent Retreat
This is said to be a 5 star ashram 37 km away with cosy simple rooms and jungle view. You will be deep in the womb of nature. Any direction you go you will be pulled closer to Mother Nature. The property is on working farms and so you’ll be surrounded by buzzing bees, enormous flowers, extensive rice paddies, and fresh herbs and passion fruit vines. The food served here is fresh and delicious. Soak in the panorama of mountains and fields. Something you don’t get to see in your concrete jungles. Visit this place if you are ready for days with no phones, no gadgets, no talking.
It is really easy to find the location of Kecak dance performance in Ubud. You can find it in the Dalem Temple at Ubud Road or in Puri Agung Saren. In Puri Agung Saren, you can also watch Legong dance performance. Besides of them, you can also watch shadow plays and other performances while in Ubud. Make sure to prepare a ticket to watch the Kecak dance.LEARNING TO COOK BALINESE CUISINEMost of all restaurants and hotels in Ubud open cooking classes for the tourists who come. Various menus of Balinese cuisine are available for you to choose, such as satay, lawar or other Indonesian food like mixed vegetables with the peanut sauce, fried rice or yellow rice. If you want to try typical Balinese culinary classes, you can go to Paon Bali in Laplapan who have cooking classes at home. You can also go to Casa Luna restaurant which is famous for its cooking classes as it is the first restaurant that open a cooking class in Ubud. The cooking classes usually started in the morning and all the participants will be taken to a traditional market to buy and choose the ingredients that they will use to cook later.EXPLORING THE CULINARY OF UBUDWhen you come to Ubud, you have to try the local culinary. If you are interested in the typical culinary of Ubud and Bali, you should try the roast pork of Madam Oka which is located next to Ubud Temple, Ubud Bengil duck, chicken rice kedewatan Madam Mangku, or Betutu chicken at Murni restaurant.Ubud is a tourist area that has been established since before the independence of Indonesia, so various food of Indonesia and also international cuisine can be found here. You can also try Asian cuisine, European cuisine and American cuisine here such as Italian gelato, Japanese traditional cuisine, Mexican taco and burrito and French cuisine. You just have to choose a menu that fits with your taste.TRYING TRADITIONAL MEDICATION OF KETUT LIYERFor a long time, local people in Ubud has been used traditional medications using natural ingredients to cure the sick people. Spas and wellness in Ubud are growing rapidly in order to pamper the tourists who come. The traditional medication is just like a spa, using massage therapy and spiritual meditation. The Balinese people called the traditional “doctor” as Balian.Balian Ketut Liyer is a medicine man that became famous after his appearance in the novel and movie Eat, Pray, Love which do therapy with some meditation approaches. As the most Balian in Ubud is Ketut Arsana. He has given medications with massage therapy and herbal medicine for about 25 years.RAFTING ON AYUNG RIVER