The shuttle bus to Ubud lasted about 2 hours and dropped us off on Monkey Forest Road as there was a giant park/forest at one end full of monkeys. I had made a mental note of a guesthouse that I'd read about so made my way towards that whilst being stopped every two metres with "you want transport??" "you want massage??" "want to see traditional dance??". It would be soo easy to get annoyed with them and either just snap or ignore them because you LITERALLY get pestered every second you walk along the road, so I have to spend my whole time reminding myself that as frustrating as it is, they are only trying to make a living. I actually found that if you ignored them they would ask over and over again, whereas if you just said a polite 'no thank you' then many times they would respond with 'you're welcome' and leave it at that. One time though I did just that and a boy sat with the taxi driver on the pavement spat at me and got my shoe which was pretty disgusting. I wish I could have said something but I figured I'd probably just make the situation worse somehow so had to settle with a dirty look and just crossed over. That was a couple days into being in Ubud and as lovely as the place was I was fed up of being in the touristy area so booked myself to go on a cycling tour into more rural areas the next day.
I was picked up at 7.30 in the morning, shorts on and trainers ready. There was a german couple in the shuttlebus already and on the way we picked up two more women from Sweden and a guy from London (who worked at Trailfinders - a travel agents specialising in RTW tickets). It was funny because as the driver led me to the bus he asked how much I'd paid for the tour and when I told him he looked really shocked and told me not to tell the others as he said they'd forked out nearly double what I paid haha! I guess from my 4 months in Asia at least i'd honed my haggling skills ;) After an hours drive we arrived at a hotel where there were lots of other groups - I think from different cycling tours and 2 more groups who were with the same company as me - EcoCycling, and they had put on a breakfast buffet so I took full advantage of the coffee! You could sit on the veranda and it had THE most amazing view of Mt. Batur and the lake nearby. It was a beautiful day as well so you could see everything pretty clearly, apparently the whole previous week it was cloudy so visibility was crap. After this we were then taken down the road to a coffee plantation where we got to sample lots of different types of coffees which they harvest and roast on site. There was one which is famous in Indonesia called 'Lawak' coffee - as it comes from the lawak animals poo! The animal sniffs out only the best coffee beans and then eats them before pooing them out for it to be collected and roasted (or whatever they do to it) where it's then drank as coffee! It's super expensive to buy though as its deemed the creme de la creme of coffee. After here the tour took us onwards to a local village which we were allowed to look around. The way the EcoCycling tour works is that every place it takes you to they make sure it benefits the community and environment in some way, so to make up for the constant intrusion into the locals lives the company donates a percentage of money to them as thanks. We were also taken to rice fields where we were able to see workers harvesting the crops and separating the rice. Although rice is the main crop grown in Indonesia and a key source of income for a lot of local families, apparently this industry will soon run into trouble as a lot of the younger generation don't want to follow their parents line of work in the fields as they would rather work in within the tourist industry. After more cycling for about 2 hours we came to the end of the tour. Because the route is catered for everybody from children to older people, most of the route was either flat or downhill. So you were then given the option of cycling a route for a further 30 mins all uphill. Most of our group said yes and so we set off to finish the course. After 5 minutes I regretted this decision because it was super steep and in the sweltering heat! I felt amazing once we'd completed it though so it wasn't all bad.
The next few days in Ubud were just spent relaxing and wandering around the town. Cousin Nicola was still in her last stages of pregnancy at this point so when i found a small shop selling homemade kids items I bought some reversible fabric booties to send her for when the baby was born :) On the last night I went to a really nice veggie place for food and whilst waiting for my order to come I overhead the group behind me. There were 3 women and 2 little children, when one of the kids (about 4 or 5 years old) went downstairs to use the toilet on his own. There is an organic shop downstairs as well and when he returned I pieced together from everything being said that the kid had wandered into the shop, nicked a piece of cake and was just eating it. The mum was saying "Arju (weird yoga-ish name) I am so dissappointed in you, say sorry mummy for taking without asking" and the kid just kept saying nononoNO. And then she said "you need to ask first before eating new food because how do I know what's in your tummy eh?" and the kid shouted at the top of his lungs "ITS FULL OF CAAAKKEE" haha!
From Ubud i'd booked a return boat ticket to take me to the Gilli Islands and back. The Gillis consist of 3 small islands, Gilli Air, Meno and Trawangan. Gilli T is the biggest island with a circumference of 8km and has an abundance of hostels and bars to choose from, Gilli Meno is the polar opposite being the smallest of the 3 and is pretty much empty apart from a couple of resorts and i'd say it's more of a honeymoon/couples retreat, and Gilli Air is somewhere between the two. I'd decided to head straight to Gilli T with the idea of partying for a few days and then catching one of the small local boats that hop between the 3 islands to Gilli Air for a bit of relaxation and a detox!