Ubud

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Day 4
We checked out of our hotel at 9:30am, much to the disappointment of the lovely hotel staff. Our driver for the day (I didn’t actually catch his name) took us down to the Bukit Peninsula where we started off by exploring Ulu Watu temple. Ulu Watu is at the top of a 75metre cliff and was yet another stunning example of Balinese temple architecture. At the bottom of the cliffs was beautiful blue water with waves rolling in, crashing against the cliff walls.

From Ulu Watu we headed into Jimabaran to have a look at some traditional markets, but unfortunately by the time we got there, they were finished for the day.

We continued on our merry little way. Following the coastline in a north east direction, up to Semarapura to check out the remnants of the Royal Palace, Taman Kertha Gosa. Semarapura used to be the capital of Bali, which is why the royal palace was built there, but most of the palace was destroyed by the Dutch in 1908, I assume this was when they were trying to colonise Indonesia. The palace still had some parts remaining, the high court which was a small, elevated room in a corner of the compound and a temple type place in the centre of the from of the compound. The temple type place was also elevated, and in addition it was surrounded by a moat full of water lillies and fish – so pretty!

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Back in the car we headed towards the mountains, stopping briefly for some lunch from a street stall, photo opportunities of gorgeous rice terraces and also to pick up tomatoes. At one stage we driving along a very narrow back road, and nearing a corner our driver tooted the horn to warn oncoming traffic that we were there. A truck loaded up with fruit and veggies promptly flew around the corner and swerved to avoid us, which made them lose a large basket full of tomatoes all over the road. So we helped them pick them up off the road.

Our last stop on the way to Ubud was at a coffee plantation (similar to the one I went to on the day of the bike ride), we tried some tasty coffee’s, as well as the famous Kopi Luwak! The view from the coffee plantation was looking across a valley to one of the prettiest rice terraces I have seen (unfortunately it was quite glary, so the photos won’t do it justice).

After a day of sightseeing and full of coffee, we got to our destination of the day, Ubud, by late afternoon where we checked into a fabulous hotel in the rainforest! We enjoyed the last part of the day with a swim in the pool and some down time on the deck of our villa. So relaxing!

Day 5
The morning started with a trip into town where I checked out Ubud Palace, quite small but very pretty, had a look at Ubud Market, wandered down Monkey Forest Road and checked out the shops, and made our way down to Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

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Monkey Forest Sanctuary was teeming with macaques, as expected. The little, and big, guys were awfully keen to nab food from anyone who had some, sometimes climbing onto people’s shoulders to get at it! I wasn’t keen for the feral monkey experience, so didn’t bring in any fruit. The temples within the Monkey Forest Sanctuary were also quite pretty and gave us another opportunity to appreciate traditional Balinese architecture, it was also nice to see the monkeys make it their home. They would sit on statues grooming each other, lay on tables getting their bellies scratched by their mates. In the centre point of the sanctuary was a fountain and the monkeys had a fabulous time diving off the statues into the pool of water and swimming around. It was very entertaining to see the monkeys at play, often launching themselves off a statue to dive bomb on top of another monkey swimming around!!

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After our monkey visit, we spent some more time exploring the streets of Ubud, before heading back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool. After a short break, we headed back into town to grab some dinner before heading to a traditional dance performance: Fire Kecak and Trance.

The performance started with men sitting in concentric circles around a big candelabra, chanting, singing and swaying. The men continued to chant as some elaborately dressed ladies came into the centre of the circle and danced – they had ornate gold headdresses, and wore brightly coloured silk sarongs, with gold embellishments. They danced very deliberate moves, with their fingers and toes curled upwards, and their head jolting from side to side, eyes wide looking left and right. Balinese dance uses every part of the body to convey the story, and it was really interesting to watch. The last scene of the day involved a large pile of coconut shells being lit on fire in the middle of the hall, a man on a ‘horse’ danced around it before kicking the pile of burning shells to scatter them all over the floor (I was worried that it would hit me!). While it is quite hard to describe the dance, it was a very interesting experience.

Day 6
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The alarm was set for early morning – we headed off to the fresh produce market in the heart of Ubud, here we saw beautiful colours and many interesting foods: snake beans, chillies, vanilla beans, dragon fruit, fresh fish and shrimp, pig trotters, freshly plucked chickens, live chickens and much more. This market expedition was in preparation for our cooking class, so that we. Could see where all the fresh produce was sourced.

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After our market excursion, we had some time to spend before the cooking class. So we headed out to Goa Gajah – Elephant Cave. It was built in the 9th century to serve as a sanctuary. The Elephant Cave itself is part of a large-ish complex that borders on the jungle. The facade of the cave is carved to show menacing creatures and demons. The main figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname Elephant Cave. Around the rest of the complex is a bathing area, some other temples and further into the jungle, the is a bridge across the river, passing by a waterfall, and a track that goes out to a jungle temple. It was quite a beautiful site, and with all the tracks heading off into the jungle, I’m sure one could spend hours exploring!

On the way back to the hotel we made a brief stop at Barc. Which is a volunteer organisation involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of Bali dogs. The Balinese don’t seem to care a great deal about their pets, and there are many stray dogs, dogs being beaten, dogs getting run over and left to die. So while we didn’t do a great deal to help out, we did make a donation and learn a bit about what the organisation does and how they work. It’s very sad to see so many dogs that have been treated so poorly. Hopefully the people’s view of pets will change, and until it does Barc will be helping out all the poor puppies and kitties.

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At midday we headed down to the hotel restaurant where we learned to cook an appetiser, Rujak Segar (fresh fruit salad with a sour/chilli sauce); a main meal comprising of Satay Lilit Ayam (chicken mince, coconut and curry satay sticks) and Lawar Bali (curry vegetable, chicken and coconut); and a dessert Kolak Pisang (poached banana pieces in a palm sugar syrup). It was all delicious!!! It wasn’t a very hands on cooking class, the only things we did were chop veggies and put meat on skewers, but it was still very interesting. At the end of the lesson we sat down with a beer and got to eat what we made – then we waddled around for the next few hours!!!

Having had a busy morning, we spent the afternoon exploring Ubud a bit more. I went out to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which turned out to be a stupid idea…they are the worst botanical gardens I have ever seen! Poorly tended, over grown paths, paths that are VERY slippery..I landed hard on my bottom once, and barely managed to stay upright multiple other times!
After the gardens I did some window shopping before stopping for a fresh juice and to write some postcards. I didn’t get very far with my postcard writing as some drunk ladies at the next table asked me to join them. They were pretty entertaining, but at the same time offensive in that way bogan drunks can be. So after joining them for a cocktail, I politely excused myself.

Yvonne and I found a great little ‘warung’ (food stall) to have some tasty dinner, before having a drink or two at the pub.

Ubud has been a success, time to explore further north!!!

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