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Ubud & Tour

INDONESIA | Monday, 21 October 2013 | Views [9643] | Comments [1]

Flowers & incense offering

Flowers & incense offering

Ten days ago I arrived in Ubud and sat on this balcony to write my first blog from Bali. Although I didn't envisage still being here on this balcony, I had an inkling I wouldn't be going too far away. It is my last night in Bliss Bungalows as tomorrow I move into a Homestay in the middle of town. Everything has pointed me to spending more time here and, unsurprisingly, I am not about to argue! I love Ubud. It is busy and touristy but there is an enormous range of things going on here for anyone striding along the path of self improvement.  Aside from the incredibly positive energy, I have met some truly lovely people.

The icing on the cake of my current utopian life has been the arrival of my amazing friend now living in Australia. It has been a few months since we last caught up but being here, away from responsibilities and commitments, we have thoroughly enjoyed a few days of relaxation, sight-seeing and eagerly embraced some of what Bali has to offer. In fact, for the first time since my incredible journey began over nine months ago, I can say I feel like I have truly been on holiday.

Having opted to hire a bicycle whilst in Pai, I never did learn to ride a scooter. Bliss Bungalows are on the outskirts of Ubud and the freedom the scooter has given us has been tremendous. Still a long way from actually riding, I have become a rather more relaxed passenger, although the roads here are absolutely as bad as I thought when I arrived. This new found freedom has enabled us to try out some of the many restaurants and experience how much larger it is than first imagined. What a difference having someone to explore and share experiences makes! The anxiety of going anywhere alone totally evaporates. Is it just me that experiences a churning in the stomach when walking into a restaurant, or even more courageously, a bar, on my own? Yet when there are two of you, it becomes so easy! I know I have conquered the worst of my fears in this respect, but the thought of ever being comfortable with it remains a challenge.

Acupuncture has again been a regular part of my schedule and Liana is doing an absolutely amazing job of clearing out stagnant energy. Finally my leg feels almost back to normal, although having sprained the other ankle, I have doubled her task and further reduced my capacity to continue charging around the world. Sometimes our bodies give us gentle warnings, and when we choose to ignore them, we get made to listen. A day spent between the pool and the spa is a great way to recharge. 

Deciding it was time to see a little further than Ubud, we book onto a day tour for IR230,000 with what appears to be the main/only operator (Jalan Jalan Wisata). We head off to a Coffee & Spices Farm where are invited to sample a great selection of their teas & coffees. Naturally we are then encouraged to visit their little shop. Their most unusual and expensive coffee has been fed to mongeese. The beans are then collected from their droppings, washed, shelled and roasted to produce a very smooth coffee. I'm not entirely sure how ethically sound this practice actually is, so decide to opt for a coconut coffee blend instead.

Arriving at Sangeh Holy Monkey Forest, we are each obliged to pay another IR25,000 entry fee. It transpires that the 'tour' we have paid for is in fact just the driver's fee to drop us off at stated destination, where if a 'guide' is available, you can be sure it is to sell you something! Eventually it transpires that we will need to pay approximately an extra IR100,000 in entrance fees. Seven squashed passengers are not best pleased! The forest is merely a short walk for a photo opportunity, an invitation to buy your photo with a monkey that will sit on your knee but must not be touched. The longer walk back to the jeep involves negotiating a path crammed with souvenir-selling kiosks. Eventually we get fed up and take the direct route across the grass! The Royal Family Temple is a pleasant walk through some well-maintained gardens. Our next stop is for lunch overlooking some rice terraces. We arrive sometime around 2.30pm after most of the coaches have departed to find we are expected to pay IR80,000 for pretty much what is left of the buffet and no, we may not share a plate! We leave!

Lake Bertunga is situated high up where clouds literally dip into the water in places. A heavy mist engulfs the mountain and a small swathe of pale blue sky struggles to emerge over a tree lined hill. Busses of different nationalities are out for a Sunday promenade. The Mullah calling is an unusual sound as Bali is, uniquely in Indonedia, predominantly a Hindu society. On several occasions we are asked by Muslim families if they may have their photo taken with us. The young lads sidle up and hastily ask before attaching themselves to you as daringly as decently possible for the photo. Our final stop is on the south coast - Tanah Lot (a good sunbathing spot you may wonder) for the sunset. We have somehow not needed to pay further entrance fees until we arrive here. They require IR30,000 from us, although pedestrians seem to be exempt?! Im not sure where the temple was as the little streets are packed with souvenir stalls, cafes and hawkers. The 'beach' is all rock and I would estimate there were over a thousand people waiting for the sunset.

At best I can say the 'tour' provided some good photo opportunities but in reality the over-commercialised tourism and lack of information detracted from the whole experience. I'm told you can hire a taxi driver for around IR500,000 for eight hours and in future I will research more remote areas and do this. The traffic wasn't all that much quieter out of Ubud, so I'm not sure a novice on a scooter will do too well.

Tags: bali, bliss bungalows, monkeys, sangeh, tanah lot, tours, ubud



I will foreever treasure the time I spent with you in beautiful Ubud Sarah.

  Naomi Oct 22, 2013 2:33 PM

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