Our flight left at 4:55 pm so we went with time to not have any problems on the road. Between the time we looked at a store and passed the boarding gate, the time passed very quickly. Finally, we saw the plane that was going to take us to Bali after a stopover in Singapore. During the trip, we were given a small snack similar to a chicken kebab and a juice or soda.
The trip was enjoyable. Between watching movies on the seat screen, read the ebook and a nap time went by fast. The stopover in Singapore was 20 minutes so it was time to get off the plane, stretch our legs, pass a security check and return to the plane. On this trip, we were fed again, in this case, rice with vegetables and tomatoes.
Finally, we arrived in Bali! The airport is very beautiful, and the customs area is very spacious. Upon arrival at the Denpasar airport, we have to fill out a paper to get the visa and pay in cash. Well, the fact is that we already knew it so we showed the passport and paid the fee and we passed without a problem. Luckily the process did not last long and in 15 minutes we had already collected our bags and we were leaving through the arrival gate.
Also at the airport, there is wifi so if you get bored in the queue you can always connect and send a message to your mother to tell her everything is in order! The airport is in south Bali but we had the hotel near Ubud, so the first thing we had to do was find a way to get there.
As soon as we left the airport area where the people are waiting, we were assaulted by people who did not stop offering us a taxi. One even followed us around the airport while we tried to go to a place where we were not harassed to see what options we had. We were not clear who were the official taxi drivers.
In the end, after a small negotiation, we went with one of the taxi drivers to our hotel in Ubud. The taxi driver offered to take us around in the following days but we did not fully trust so we decided not to go with him anymore. The best thing is to book in advance a driver that picks you up at the airport and then if you like, do some excursions in the interior of the island.
We booked the following days and the truth was that we got a very professional driver. Well at the end after a long trip and a little stress at the airport we were finally in our villa in Ubud with a wonderful pool and surrounded by rice terraces.
However, the surprises were not yet over because although the hotel was quite good, we had been given a room that was not the one we had requested. It had a huge window through which the sun came in all day and then the bathroom was tiny and had no mirror! In addition, the pipe of the shower was very short. Well then we went to reception and at the end, they changed our room.
We went swimming in the hotel pool and then go for a walk around Ubud. The fact of having the hotel on the outskirts is very good on one side and not so good on the other. The good part is that we can find much better villas than we would find in the center and also much quieter. We, for example, were in one that had a very decent pool and overlooking a rice plantation.
The bad part is that there is no shared transport to take us to the city, so for anything we need a taxi or rent a motorcycle. We, for example, were in a tiny village, so we did not have a restaurant and for lunch and dinner, we had to move to Ubud. In the end, we dared to rent a motorcycle. Although the truth is that it is quite dangerous, especially on the roads that lead to Ubud. They are usually the most traffic-borne on the island along with those of the south.
We took it a little more on our own and decided not to take any driver. As we had the hotel on the outskirts of Ubud, we decided to rent a motorbike. The motorbike was a most basic scooter and when we asked the kid about the insurance was like asking him about the theory of special relativity.
The truth is that I did not drive a motorcycle since I was 15 but we went a little crazy and decided to rent it. At first, I did not know how to pull it off until another tourist who left the hotel saw me struggling with it and explained how it was done. The first trip I did it alone to see if it came back in one piece. A little scared but the truth is that the experience was worth it. Getting lost on the road was a blast, but a few days later when we went south we started seeing a lot of people.
When we had already turned around we went to Ubud to eat. The best thing about Ubud is that it is its environment because what is the city does not have much. We went to eat at a restaurant where they put the typical dish that is roast suckling pig. This was the piglet in strands with potatoes. It was not bad although we did not find it anything special either. The place is a restaurant with large tables.
We continued taking another walk around Ubud and bought some things that we needed as batteries and more mosquito repellent. Then we took another motorcycle ride. We arrived again at the Tegalalang rice terrace. At night the light of the moon reflected on the water of the rice fields, and the stars shine with force. We then come back to the hotel early to throw ourselves into the bar.
Day 2 in Bali
The day dawned not very sunny but the temperature was great. For breakfast, we opted for the typical plate of cut fruits, juice, and banana pancake with a ball of vanilla ice cream on top. We went out to do our first excursion. The driver arrived at our hotel at the agreed time. He was a very nice guy in his 30s, quite well dressed. The car was very good, clean, new and with air conditioning, so after seeing that everything was in order we decided to start our day.
As we said before we had the hotel just outside of Ubud and we had just left the hotel so this first day we wanted to allocate a bit to see the most typical things. We left around 9:00 am and headed to the Tegalalang rice terrace. These are the most famous and the typical ones that appear on all postcards of Bali. It is a small valley between hills.
The slopes of the mountains are terraced rice plantations making it a very peculiar sight that I had never seen before. The viewpoint is easily accessed by road and there are a few bars and souvenir shops. The truth is that although the place is very touristy, the view is very beautiful and also we cannot miss it because it is one of the island's classics.
Not visiting it would be like going to New York and not visiting the Statue of Liberty. Although the truth is that there are other rice fields that are much more beautiful, such as those of Jatiluwih. The next stop was Gunung Kawi, a temple dedicated to water that is sculpted directly in the mountains. The place is surrounded by jungle, rice fields and a river that goes through the middle.
After taking photos we mounted again in the car and went to the Pura Tirta Empul temple. As in almost all other temples, we cannot access it with normal clothes but we have to put on that kind of traditional Balinese sarong. But there's no problem because at the door of the temple they have a drawer with a lot of those clothes. Our driver also showed us how to put the knot of that kind of pareo and then guided us through the temple.
In the temple, we gather with locals that are purified with water from the jets. To purify we have to wet our head three times and drink three times. I personally wet my lips but I did not swallow water because you never know. The truth is that with the tropical heat of Bali the cold water on our head feels very good. The temple is a fairly large complex with different gods and specific areas for the ceremonies.
Once we had visited everything, we went to eat at a restaurant quite good but very touristy. The food was buffet style and it was very good. There was rice with sauces and meat of different kinds. Also, the views of the volcano were spectacular. After the whole day of the visit, it was very good to rest a little in a pleasant place and with good food.
We ate quietly and when we had rested a little we went to continue our visit. After a walk among the trees, we headed to the next stop at Pura Kehen, also known as the miniature version of Besakih. Here there was nobody and this one we really liked. There were peace and tranquility. This temple has very curious details from a bell at the top of a tree to Chinese decorated porcelain plates embedded in the wall and that does not stick with glue.
We were walking quietly and taking our pictures when a countryman suddenly approached us and started telling us stories about the temple.
We go more towards the east of Ubud to the Penglipuran village, a traditional village where the ancestral customs of Bali have remained unchanged. In the village almost all are families, traditionally lived on agriculture but now also live on what they can sell to tourists.
The town is very careful and is basically the main street with traditional houses on the sides. We were lucky that our driver met a lady from the village and she agreed to show us her house. The truth was that it was an unforgettable experience. The image given by the people on the outside, everything so carefully and with its flowers and streetlights on the sides of the street has nothing to do with the reality of the houses inside.
The house was a complex of small square buildings where there was hardly a wooden bed and a bonfire on the floor. There was also a filler with two pieces of pigs that should be the best place of the whole house. After seeing where they lived the lady of the house took out a few things in case we wanted to buy something.
It was clothes of the style of which we can find in any Chinese bazaar. After that, she also invited us to eat some purple things. Our driver explained that it was a typical sweet there. She poured a bit of coconut on top and ate one, so we took one each and ate it too. The sweet was liquid inside and tasted great, probably the best thing we ate in the whole trip through Southeast Asia.
When we bite it, we exploited all the liquid in our mouth and it was an incredible taste. Then the driver told us that those balls were actually small potatoes! They boiled them for I do not know how long and then they prepared them in that traditional way. No one would have said it because of the taste they had.
Next, to the traditional village, there is also the bamboo forest that is really worth the visit. As you may know, southeast Asians use bamboo for everything, constructions, kitchen utensils, and baskets. The bamboo canes are huge and are born in groups from a common base. They are so tall and leafy that it barely lets sunlight pass. When the wind passes between the reeds, those enormous sounds in a very special way are difficult to describe.
We get back to the car and we go on to our next destination. Our driver told us that he knew of a nearby temple where there was going to be a ceremony and if we preferred to go by we could do it. When we arrived, we were surprised by the difference between seeing the temples as we had always seen them dressed up.
The statues that are everywhere were dressed in traditional clothes of different colors of red, yellow, and blue. People put incense sticks for what gives us a vision of what the ancient temples should be when they used them for ceremonies. It had quite long stairs and up there was the temple. We did not enter the ceremony out of respect.
But from the outside, it was clear what was happening in the different parts of the temple since the buildings have no walls. The women carried large offerings of fruits and rice on the head. In the central area of the temple, three men recited mantras from their sacred book that I really do not know what it is.
On the way, we would pass through the town of Bangli, to visit Pura Dalem. In the temple, we cannot enter, at least when we visit it, but the exterior engravings of its walls are especially interesting. They represent the punishments that mortals suffer if they have led a sinful life full of evil and horrible acts.
Afterward, we were in the mother temple, Pura Besakih, which is simply spectacular. This is the largest set of temples in Bali, is located on the slope of Mount Agung at 1000 meters high and is very beautiful. The main and largest, Pura Penetaran Agung is the most impressive.
Actually, the Balinese architecture for me cannot be compared with anything. There were many Balinese dressed in ceremonial costumes carrying trays with offerings. Arriving in Besakih, the day began to cloud. The driver gave us sarongs and stayed waiting for us in the parking lot. There were many people in the temple, mostly local, but also many tourists, some with their corresponding guides. When we finished seeing the temple it was already 3:00 pm.
We also went to see the crops and the place where Luwak coffee is made, the most expensive in the world. The visit is quite good because we can see the different varieties of plantations on the island. In addition, the most famous of this plantation is the coffee of Kopi Luwak or Civet.
It is a fox-like animal that eats the coffee beans at night and then defecates them. Although the coffee bean is not digested by the animal, they say the process gives the coffee a special flavor. The truth is that we tried it and yes it tasted different (stronger) although I did not think it was better either. The only thing I hope is that they cleaned it well before giving it to us!
There is a coffee shop on the plantation where they give us a kind of tasting menu of all the coffees and teas made in different ways. The truth is that they are exquisite.
Another visit of the route consisted of passing through the upper area from where we can see the Agung volcano, but with the day we did not see anything at all, just a thick white fog that covered more than two meters. We were ready to continue with our routes.
Following the road to Tampaksiring, we stopped at the Pura Penataran Sasih temple, formerly the most important temple in the kingdom. There was nothing special about it. I mean, all the temples are impressive but this one does not stand out for anything special. The special thing was that it was the first Balinese temple that we visited and walked from corner to corner.
From the sacred spaces connected by deeply decorated doors to the merus of interior and the sculptures of witches and demons, all adorned with sarongs, umbrellas and decorative palm branches.
The next stop of the day would be Goa Gajah, the elephant temple, in the nearby village of Bedulu. As we got closer, we would see indications of the temple until a giant sign. We parked a few meters beyond the official parking, to save the ticket. The temple itself is located in a natural environment with several pools carved in rock, with giant fish, where men, women, and children are purified before the prayers. The sculpture of Ganesha inside is in the shape of an elephant.
It was not too impressive, and in fact I almost liked the part of the forest behind it, all of a beautiful green and spectacular trees and went back to the hotel because we were tired already.
At the hotel, we went for a swim in the pool that was the glory. As the hunger grows we decided to search by TripAdvisor a nearby place to dine. During the ride, we were peppered with offers of taxis and tickets to see the Barong dance that is performed in the center of Ubud, but we had reservations at Laka Leke to see the Kecak dance that night.
We wanted to see a Kecak dance, and we were lucky that it matched well with the nights we had in Ubud. When we finished, as we had taken so long to get on the normal way, we asked if we could not go back to Ubud shortening to the Monkey Forest, and the very friendly waiters gave us directions. Well, we were wrong on the way and that was an adventure.
We ride at night, only with the light of the motorbike, along a road as narrow which on top was half under construction and was blocked by lots of sand and with flooded rice fields on the sides. When it finally seems that we reached an illuminated street appears a security guard and tells us that this is a private space and that we cannot pass.
We tried to beg him to let us pass because we did not see ourselves able to undo the road! But there was no way, so we had to turn around and go back where we had come from. When we had almost reached the Laka Leke again we saw the good detour, which we had to have gotten from the beginning, and we could go to the street of Monkey Forest, so the adventure was an anecdote.
Then after a little zen on the terrace of the room, we go to the bed early as the day had been tiring.