We left Sanur heading north for our next stop, Ubud. Although only 30km away it would take an hour going direct. Travel is slow in Bali. Of course, it took us longer than an hour as we wanted to make some stops along the way. It was touch and go to start with as we were experiencing our first heavy downpour. However, the rain cleared and we came to our first stop, Tegenungan waterfall. There were quite a few steps down to the bottom but with lots of fun photo opportunities along the way - Heather had great fun climbing in to the various "wicker" props, Dan was not quite as enthusiastic. Once at the bottom there were a couple of small bamboo bridges and also some swings higher up over the water. In fact, there are high swings all over Bali - we must try one at some point!
Next stop was the Elephant Cave Temple (Pura Goa Gajah)and as a religious site we were given sarongs to cover up our knees. It dates back to the 11th century and was built as a spiritual place for meditation. The cave was re-discovered by Dutch archaeologists in 1923 and the fountain and bathing pool were not discovered until 1954. The pool has 7 statues of women holding water pitchers that depicts 7 holy rivers of India.
So, that's the end of today's history lesson. Our 3rd stop was going to be the Tegallalang Rice Terraces but the heavens opened and the roads became rivers. We arrived late afternoon to our small hotel with just 11 rooms which was 5km out of town. Our room was huge with a 4-poster bed and a small balcony overlooking rice terraces. We relaxed with a beer on our terrace and watched the hidden army of badlings (ducks to you and I) eating the insects, bugs and tiny eels, fertilizing along the way. This is done daily after a field is harvested and was quite fascinating to watch and at the end of the day, the duck whisperer put his/her ducks to bed for the night. We were about to learn a lot about the rice terraces in Bali ……
As we were out of town, the hotel provided a shuttle bus and a mobile phone so you can phone them when you are ready to come back (as long as it is before 10.00pm). This is quite common in Bali as a lot of the accommodation is out of town and there is no public transport. En-route the driver had to stop to make way for a ceremonial procession on their way to a temple. It seemed as the whole village were out all dressed in traditional costume - amazing. We were soon to learn that the Balinese love a ceremony. We could wax lyrical about temple ceremonies but one example is the Balinese celebrate the 1st day a temple was built and they celebrate it every 210 days (based on their religious calendar system), so it's possible to see a ceremony every day somewhere around Bali.
We went to the Lotus Café for dinner and to watch some traditional Balinese dancing. The lotus café overlooks a large lotus pond and beyond that the backdrop of one of Ubud's main temple complexes, Pura Taman Kemuda Saraswati! All lit up and the dancers and musicians in beautiful costumes, it was quite magical. This was also our first venture in to Indonesian food and we shared a mini rijsttafel - a Dutch word meaning rice table. A sort of tapas with different Indonesian small dishes. After dinner we called the hotel for our shuttle to pick us up and went home to a vodka nightcap for medicinal purposes. We steered clear of Delhi Belly in India, but have now discovered there is such a thing as Bali Belly!
We were up early at 7.00am the next day as every Monday the hotel has a free guided walk along the Campuhan Ridge Walk. We were ready to go at 7.30, a quick drive to the other side of town where our guide was waiting for us and we started our 6km return hike. Campuhan means the confluence of two rivers and is spiritually significant to Balinese Hindus as energy centres - we didn't feel that energetic so early, no breakfast yet and it was already hot. However, it was a beautiful walk through rice fields, hillside vistas and Mount Agung very faintly in the distance. We were certainly ready for breakfast by the time we got back.
Not enough exercise for the day we decided to use the bikes provided free of charge by the hotel (most people hire scooters to get around in Bali, but you need an international driving licence which we don't have). We were going to make our way to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces which we missed yesterday due to the rain - wasn't far. Problem though it was mostly uphill, it was the middle of the day, the sun was out and it was humid. We stopped a lot for water and to mop up the sweat but we eventually got there. Lovely scenic outlook with steps down to the bottom which we decided not to take as we would have to walk all the way back up. Instead we had a beer and a snack at one of the cafes overlooking the rice terraces - much more sensible. The cycle back was easier as it was downhill and we stopped along the way to take photos of some of the small temples, villages and surrounding countryside. Our balcony and two cold beers awaited, and we assumed the position to watch the ducks carrying out their duties
We decided to eat in our hotel that evening and again had Indonesian food. Heather had chicken satay and decided that satay was going to be her favourite food (as a lover of peanut butter at the best of times). We also rented a dvd, Eat, Pray, Love. This was a film with Julia Roberts and the Love part of it was set in Ubud - it was a really bad film unfortunately.
Day 3 started leisurely with breakfast at 9.00 and we took the shuttle in to town to explore. We walked through the "Art Market" with lots of stalls selling various arts and crafts. We visited the majestic palace and various other temples along the main streets - a lot of these you can only go inside if you are praying. It's a busy town with lots of traffic, lots of souvenir shops and of course, lots of tourists (it was nice we were staying in a village outside of town in a way). Plenty of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. We stopped for a healthy lunch, with Heather having a Lassi flavoured with dragon fruit and cinnamon - turned out to be the same colour as her pink dress but a lot more vibrant.
We cooled down on our balcony with the usual cold beer before going to a local "Warung" 2km down the road called Avocado Café. A Warung is a local restaurant and you can guess what the main ingredient was in the dishes - it was mainly vegetarian and vegan with only 4 small tables inside and one outside. The food was delicious and cheap and would highly recommend if anyone finds themselves in Ubud and likes Avocados.
Day 4 - After breakfast we decided to use the free bikes again and cycled in to town stopping again for photos of the rice terraces, temples, locals placing their offerings, streets lined with "Penjors". All the streets in Bali are currently decorated with "Penjor's" as part of Galungan Holy Day in December. These are beautifully and intricately decorated tall bamboo poles (20 ft high) with a curved upper section. After 42 days they are taken down, the decorations burned and symbolically buried. After we got back we relaxed with a swim and read on our balcony.
Later that afternoon we decided we must try the nightlife of Ubud as it was our last night. We got the shuttle in to town at about 5.00 and then a taxi to the Elephant Restaurant overlooking Campuhan Ridge Walk. This was recommended by some friends we originally met travelling back in 2012. It's a vegan/vegetarian restaurant so we thought that would be healthy. However, we started with a Bloody Mary and finished with a large beer. The food was good and the views lovely. We took a taxi back in to town and bar hopped along Monkey Forest street and sampled live music from Latin American to Blues and Rock. A number of beers later, it struck midnight and decided we should call it a night.
Ubud is thought of as Bali's cultural heart with lots of art and crafts (including some amazing wood carvings and silversmiths), traditional dance, yoga classes, vegan restaurants, and temples. It has a lot of traffic and a lot of tourists, and every other person asks if you need a "taxsi", but there is something about Ubud that is really appealing, and we were sorry to leave it behind - we could quite easily have explored a few more of its bars and restaurants!