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Bali is organised chaos, constant noise, hot, and we loved it! The driving was insane, the people were lovely, and the amount of temples was crazy. Bali is definitely somewhere we see ourselves returning to. So without further ado, I present to you, my lovely reader, what the heck we did in Bali!
Day One – Our Arrival into Ubud, Bali.
Pat-downs, bag searches, and interrogation. Nah, just kidding. Security was far more relaxed than expected, we more or less just wandered on in, which was nice. We were greeted by the lovely Ketut of Bali Safe Driver. He walked us to his car and on the drive to our accommodation in Ubud (which takes about 2 hours from the
airport) he pointed out sites to us, explained the meaning behind statues, and talked about the areas we were driving through. The best part: bottles of water included in the price! Believe me, we were parched! Once we arrived to The Payogan Hotel and Spa, Ketut even waited to make sure it was the correct accommodation (there is another Payogan and I was a little unprepared address-wise).
The staff at The Payogan were super lovely and we were welcomed with a yummy fruit juice that tasted like lime and mint. We jumped on the golf cart and were driven to our room! Our beautiful, beautiful room. Yay private pool! After a splash about we ordered room service (living the high life) and fell asleep to the sounds of birds, lizards, crickets and other unidentifiable nature noises. Bliss!
Day Two – Exploring Ubud.
We started with a 7am buffet breakfast. On offer was fried rice, fried noodles, bacon, eggs, toast, fruit, cereal, coffee, juices, the list goes on and on! Delicious! After filling up we headed back to our room for a wee swim before jumping on the 10am shuttle. The Payogan runs a shuttle to Ubud centre, dropping us off opposite the Ubud Palace. The earliest is 10am and the latest return is 8:30pm. So, obviously, our sight-seeing started with Ubud Palace! Free to walk around and if you’re lucky, a group of local children might be learning traditional dance.
Following this, we wandered down Monkey Forest Road stopping to look in shops or look at the absolutely insane driving. Eventually we were hungry and lured by the free Wi-Fi we stopped for lunch in Cinta Grill & Inn. I had the Ayam Kacang Mente which was chicken with cashew nuts, steamed rice, and vegetables. It was amazing! My very adventurous boyfriend had a burger which apparently was also amazing.
Continuing down Monkey Forest Road we came to, unsurprisingly, Monkey Forest and boy were we excited!! With our belongings tightly packed away in my handbag, we ventured inside. Monkeys. Everywhere. Climbing trees, swinging from branches, throwing themselves from one flimsy branch to the next, climbing up an unsuspecting leg, it was all unreal. I purchased some bananas and immediately made a couple of cheeky friends. Monkey Forest is a massive forest area you can wander around with lots of different paths and parts. Everything is sign posted so you do not have to worry about getting lost in a forest. It would be so easy to spend an entire day in Monkey Forest just watching the cheeky monkeys swinging, swimming, fighting, and…..procreating (the circle of life y’all). Once outside the forest you can still see monkeys swinging in the trees, or crossing the road to check out the humans. Nothing of ours was stolen inside the forest however OUTSIDE the forest a cheeky wee guy stole Mr Boyfriend’s water bottle and chucked it under a car. Moral of the story, hold on to your shit!
Following this we decided it was time to back track up Monkey Forest Road and test some juice and ice-cream in various cafes along the way (mainly for the air-con, let’s be honest). Eventually we reached our next tourist destination: The Blanco Renaissance Museum. Blanco “concentrated on the human form, fascinated by the female body more than any other subject matter”. Which is polite way of saying ‘he liked boobs’. The artworks are all amazing and quiet beautiful in their own ways. On site there is a museum, art studios, a gallery, a gift shop, a bird park, the family house, a restaurant, and much more. So much to look at and all so very pretty.
Campuhan Ridge walk! We saved this for later in the afternoon so it would be hopefully slightly cooler. Spoiler alert,
it wasn’t. Take loads of water with you! There is a mini-mart near the start of the walk you can buy water from. This walk begins at IBAH hotel driveway where there is a little sign saying ‘going up the hill’. Then you just follow the path and see some lush greenery, rice fields, big-ass bugs, locals, tourists, dogs, and houses. You will see so much on this walk. Personally, I was really struck by how quiet the walk was after the constant tooting and packed feeling of Ubud. After a couple of kms you come to a lovely café and spa called Karsa Kafé and Spa where we stopped for some food and drink while over-looking lilly pad ponds and rice fields.
Day three – Kuta
This day we headed into Kuta through transport arranged by our hotel. We immediately knew we had made the right choice staying in peaceful Ubud.
In Kuta we found aggressive vendors, no escape from the noise, and tourists everywhere. Eventually we ended up cornered in a shop, unable to leave until we purchased some clothing at ridiculous prices. Feeling defeated by our less than welcoming morning, we found someone to drive us to Tanah Lot (again at what was probably a ridiculous price). Tanah Lot was very beautiful to look at with lots of nice sea views. We were both surprised by how many vendors and cafes were inside the site however. It felt like a whole other village.
Our highlight of this day out was sitting with a nice drink of juice at one of the cafes looking at the temple, undisturbed. I imagine Tanah Lot would be a very serene and spiritual experience during the times it is devoid of all other people. We were happy to see bed this day.
Day four – Our favourite day
Day tripping with Ketut! Our day started at 8:15am with pick up from our accommodation. First stop, Taro Elephant Safari Park Lodge. We got to feed, pat, play, and ride an elephant which was amazing. The trainers all have a lot of love and respect for their particular elephant and know their individual personalities well. Our elephant we rode was called Pattie who, much like walking a dog, would get distracted by the smallest things such as leaves. While here we also got to watch an elephant show featuring painting, basketball, soccer, and a bit of math. During the show it was stressed to us that the elephants are trained through repetition and rewards, there is no hitting and it is immediate dismissal for anyone who strikes an elephant. All the elephants here seemed happy, safe, and content and we did not see anything to suggest otherwise.
Next up was Tirta Empul Temple. To enter this temple your shoulders and knees must be covered (Ketut provides sarongs), long hair tied back, and women cannot be menstruating. This is because of the belief that if anything is falling from the body it is dead and therefore not good, so should not be falling in the temple.
Inside there are altars with lots of ornate decorations, and a holy spring which some tourists throw coins into. If you ever visit this temple, please don’t do that. It will not bring you good luck. It is not the Trevi Fountain. The people of the temple do not like anything being thrown into the holy spring. There is also another pool where people bathe and make offerings.
While there, Ketut explained to us the meanings of two different hats we were seeing the men wear. One hat had an open top and the other type of hat was completely closed. The completely closed hats are worn by holy men who are dedicated to religion only, these men do not think of anything else. The open topped hats are worn by men “who are free to think of other things”. Ketut was excellent at the temple, taking photos of us together and explaining the temples, offerings, and other goings on.
Leaving Tirta Empul Temple behind, we headed towards the Coffee and Spice Plantation.
Anyone for cat-poo coffee? During a visit here you get to learn about the different spices and ingredients that go
into making tea, coffee, and chocolate. You can even give roasting coffee beans a crack! There is a free taste testing afterwards of various teas and coffees. Trying the Kopi Luwak or as we called it the cat-poo coffee will set you back IDR 50,000 ($6.00 NZD approx.) a cup. Which, is a FREAKING bargain as Kopi Luwak, outside of Bali, is one of the most expensive cups of joe in the world. Kopi Luwak is the first cup of black coffee I have ever been able to stand. It was smooth, not bitter, but still strong. Even non-coffee loving Mr-Boyfriend loved the coffee. From the gift shop we purchased some vanilla chocolate, lemongrass tea, and ginseng coffee (papa drink, mama happy – so we were informed 😉 ).
HUNGRY. By this point it was about 1:30pm and we were starving. Luckily, Ketut knew a place with a fantastic view (of course). Aron’aron serves a variety of food, is reasonably priced, and oh my goodness that view. Rice terraces, greenery, trees, nature was truly showing off.
Rice terrace time! Rather than fight against all the other curious tourist trying to get a peek at the Tegalalanga Rice Terraces, Ketut stopped off at the view point of another rice terrace which was not crowded at all and was still a marvellous view. Without all the hustle and bustle, pushing and shoving, or aggressive selling, we were able to stand and enjoy the view. Peaceful moments like these are what make great trips.
Finally, Tegenungan waterfall. Entry to this site is was IDR 10,000 ($1.00 NZD approx.) and if you wanted you could walk down the (many) stairs and go swimming in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. Neither of us had any energy left for stairs and, to be honest, and I know this sounds really awful, we have much better (and probably cleaner) waterfalls to go swimming around in New Zealand. I think Ketut may have been a little disappointed we didn’t go bounding down the stairs to the waterfall but oh well.
This was the end of our day tour with Ketut, we were back at our hotel about 5:00pm, enough time for a dip in the pool, relax and listen to the birds and insects before dinner.
Day five – Our other favourite day.
WHITE. WATER. RAFTING. We were picked up at 8:45am by Toekad group and driven to their office/base, which was only five minutes away from our accommodation. Score! Here we got a helmet, a paddle, met the other two couples going with us, and our guide. Then we walked down to the Ayung River. All 380 stairs down to the river. In this case, I thought to myself, what goes down must come up…
We all loaded up onto the raft, were given a brief explanation of what the commands meant and then we were off
down the river, crashing into banks, bouncing off rocks, and having water fights with other rafting companies we passed. Our raft passed a raft full of Australians, suddenly all our rafting buddies were honorary New Zealanders’, splashing the Aussies. We also got to stop by pounding waterfall and go under for a “massage”. All up the trip down the river took two hours and was an incredible amount of fun. And luckily, only 300 stairs up at the end. Fantastic. I walked at the back, very slowly, and the guide kept me company (to be honest I would have preferred to have been left to die in peace – still the company was nice). I managed to wheeze out “do you climb these stairs every day??” he replied, “yes, twice a day”. Holy crap.
Once I had finished staggering up the stairs, a buffet lunch was provided back at the base which was only a short walk away. There were also showers and the option to buy photos or a USB stick with all the photos. Once we had eaten we were dropped back off to our accommodation for a well-deserved rest in the pool followed by afternoon tea which is free at The Payogan and is something different each day.
Eventually 4:00pm rolled around and we were collected for Bali Night Zoo Safari! Here we got to handle an albino python, take photos with an orangutan, and have a tour of the zoo at night. Afterwards a buffet dinner is provided next to the lion enclosure and fire dance is performed. One of the dancers was our rafting guide. So he walks up the stairs twice a day and then goes and dances. Insane. We found the Zoo to be a little less kind to the animals than one would hope. We thought some the enclosures, particularly the tigers, were a little too small. A lot of the animals were also Australian so weren’t that exciting to us. However the show was good and handling a snake was a new experience.
Day six – Our relaxing day of nothing.
As this was our last full day in Bali, we decided to relax. We had a lie in, followed by breakfast. Then headed into Ubud for some last minute shopping, lunch, and to try out a fish spa. Let me tell you, a fish spa when you have ticklish feet is the giggliest experience of my life. I could not stop giggling, Mr-Boyfriend was loving the fish. We both had super smooth feet afterwards. About 2:30pm we were picked up and spent the rest of the afternoon in our pool enjoying the view and unwinding. The perfect last full day.
Day seven – Our departure day, farewell Ubud.
Check out for The Payogan is 12:00pm and Ketut was collecting us at 2:00pm. So for the morning we packed, enjoyed the pool one last time, and then headed to the lobby. Mr-Boyfriend opted for a massage from the onsite spa which he said was very relaxing. He smelled very pretty. That left us just enough time for lunch before heading to the airport.
Until next time Bali!
Have you been to Bali? What did you see and do?? Let me know in the comments!