Sometimes when you go big, you go home … and fall asleep. That’s been us the last few days. We’ve been packing our days so full that we find ourselves falling asleep immediately upon returning to the villa. I’m going to condense the last couple of days down into a single post here.
Monkey Business – Thursday, 3/21/19
No group activities planned for this day, so a couple of us decided to check out the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. We trekked the 30 minutes down to the entrance. We were greeted by some creepy statues, paid the entrance fee and headed into a jungle wonderland.
To say that there were monkeys everywhere would be a gross understatement. We had read several articles warning us about the veracity of the monkeys and how we needed to stay vigilant in guarding our things. I found this to be quite overstated. While there are monkeys everywhere, there are caretakers everywhere also. They do a great job of keeping the monkeys occupied with food, and for the most part the monkeys just ignored us.
Naps, and nit-picking
The sanctuary itself is a beautiful jungle forest right in the heart of Ubud. The forest envelopes you fully, leaving you hard pressed to notice you’re in the middle of a bustling city. We took our time wandering the grounds watching the monkeys play, eat, sleep and nit pick.
Eventually we made our way out of the forest and back into town, where we lazily strolled the streets checking out shops and seeing the sights. Finally our stomachs came calling and we landed at a spot to grab for what turned out to be dinner. Dripping with sweat from the never relenting humidity, we guzzled down some Bintang’s and enjoyed a delicious meal. Satisfied we walked back to the villa, where I fell asleep soon after.
Tourist-ing – Friday, 3/22/19
We had previously arranged with our driver, Faruk, to do a full day Bali tour with him. Faruk picked us up promptly at 9am, and we headed out into the greater Ubud area.
Our first stop was at the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. We spent about an hour wandering the beautiful rice paddies, taking photos and enjoying the scenery. Christine indulged her wild side and went for a ride on their famous big swings.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Next we stopped at Bali Pulina Coffee Plantation. This was my favorite stop. Not only did we get to see coffee growing, but we got to see the Luwak or civet. This is an animal from the cat family, and is famous for eating the coffee cherries and pooping them out. We definitely tried the “poop coffee,” which is the most expensive in the world. It was ok at best, and another example of who scarcity can drive up costs.
After enjoying the coffee, a couple people from the group took the chance to swing on some more of the giant swings. These ones were more daring that at the rice terrace as they swing you out over the canyon below. We then all headed down to a very secluded and private swimming pool, where we enjoyed the chillingly fresh water … a perfect way to cool off from the heat.
Private swim spot
Faruk then took us to a local spot for some lunch, where we enjoyed some great conversation and he provided some great insights about the island, the country and its people. Just before we finished lunch, the rain rolled in. And it was a doozy! I’ve never seen it rain this hard in my life. We were essentially trapped at the restaurant, having to wait out the rain. So what did we do? What any sane person would do … ordered another round of Bintang’s and enjoyed mother nature’s show!
Island rain, bruh
The rain storm ended up cutting our day a bit short, so we were only able to make one last stop, Tirta Empul. The temple is a Hindu Balinese water temple, where you can bathe in holy waters.
With the sunlight running short, we headed back to Ubud. After arriving we walked down our street to have dinner at a warang’s, which means family restaurant.
Adventure Time – Saturday, 3/23/19
Saturday morning started as usual, with breakfast at the villa. Around 8:30 we were picked up and headed to Bali Bintang Rafting for a half day rafting adventure, on the Class 2 Ayung River, the largest river in Bali.
After some quick equipment prep we all piled into an open air truck and drove about 20 minutes into the jungle. A brief walk through some rice fields gave way to a sudden and drastic descent down the side of a canyon. After more than 300 stairs we reached the river. Our guide, Bobo, gave us a quick tutorial on basic paddling commands and safety, and before we knew it we were off!
Any apprehensions we may have had quickly floated away, as the the river was full of beauty and wonder. Class 2 is not all that “rapid” so we had more than enough time to view the gorgeous scenery and many waterfalls. We drifted down stream for about 30 minutes before making our first stop at the largest waterfall of the day, where we got out and swam underneath its powerful current. We spent the rest of the morning making our way down river, with one additional stop for a nice, cold Bintang beer.
Nice and cold
Back at HQ we were treated to a tasty buffet lunch, and enjoyed seeing pictures of ourselves being tossed around by the waves on a big screen TV. On the way back into town, we dropped Christine off so she could meet with a spiritual healer.
After some downtime, I headed back into town to meet up with Christine. We walked across the street from the healer to a wonderful coffee shop, Full Circle by Expat Roasters.
My kind of place
We indulged in a hilarious combination of food and cocktails, including a fish sandwich and raisin banana bread. We then decided to move upstairs to the bar and have the bartender make us some custom Balinese flavored cocktails. As we wrapped things up, our new friends offered us a free cup of coffee, so I took them up on the offer and downed a delicious cappuccino while the staff awkwardly watched from a couple feet away.
One the walk back to the villa, we stopped for the least authentic dinner I think I’ve eaten while on an international trip. Union Restaurant Ubud, was clearly made for western tourists needing “safe” food. By the time we realized the situation, we were seated and felt like it would be impolite to get up and leave. Lesson learned, always view the menu first.