Preface Sorry guys! Been enjoying beautiful Bali and haven’t had a chance to update this since my last post which took over 3 days to put together. On a mini-bus (melting) from Kuta to Mt. Bromo. Currently driving towards our ferry to the main island of Java. I also have the photos backed up on my photo HD but no time to retrieve it right now so I’ll update this with photos a little later on.
Chantelle landed just before midnight and didn’t get to sleep until 1 something but was a trooper for getting up at 7. The breakfast at the Conrad (Suku restaurant) was even better than the Conrad HK. Complete with omelette station, pancake/crepe/waffle station, noodle soup station, local eats and sweets. Oh they also had local Balinese coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, pineapple and mango juice. Heavenly! We only had 15 minutes to eat because our private driver was already waiting for us but man we downed as much food as we could. Morning food coma!
Our Local Driver – Putu Arnawa
Our driver Putu Arnawa picked us up at the front when we were ready and we were on our way to start our Balinese adventure. I did some thorough research on this one and Putu’s name (balifriend.net) showed up at every single turn on Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet Thorntree Forums and Fodors. For 2 days he charged us 1,000,000 IDR which ball park works out to $100 USD for the two of us. A little more about Putu later on.
Traditional Barong Dance
So anyways after a pretty lengthy ride up to Ubud (made us 10 mins late) our first stop was a traditional Barong dance place. It was about an hour long and a must-see I’d say but maybe a bit long. We got handed English synopses of the different acts which made following of the dance much easier but some scenes were pretty drawn out like the wide-eyed finger twitching servants. What was hilarious was that the musicians in the show looked bored out of their mind. They probably had ever “cling” and “clang” memorized and the whole time were either looking at the audience or half passed out. Overall entertaining.
Stops Along the Way Up to Ubud
On our way into central Ubud we stopped by a local stone carver and a silver jeweler shop. Chantelle even got to glue in a few balls of silver onto an earring. Apparently these hand-made earrings take 2 days to make one.
Sangeh Secret Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Our next stop was the Sangeh Secret Monkey Forest Sanctuary. These are local macaques monkeys and they roam about this small forest sanctuary. They’re tiny little guys and are pretty cute until I got a little close try to take a picture of one and it tried to pounce me with his claws. Throughout the trip I’ve hard of people getting bitten, clawed or climbed on. Watch out! As long as you stay your distance you can enjoy the monkeys eating raw yams, bananas, bathing in a pool, rolling small rounded objects around or humping if that suits your fancy haha. Neat place.
Babi Guling Ibu Oka
For lunch we stopped over at one of Sarah’s recommendations – Babi Guling Ibu Oka and had the “Special” which was an assortment of pork parts with the best being the crispy skin and slices of normal pork and maybe not so much the blood sausage. Overall delish local Balinese food.
Ubud Palace Temple and the Local Market
To work off the lunch we walked around the Ubud Palace Temple and the local markets. Picked up my stash of magnets for my collection and I was good. Haggling is key here of course. Start at 40% of asking and work from there. Seemed to work!
Unexpected Temple Celebration
As we made our way up to get a view of Ganung (Mountain) Batur we randomly stopped off at a local village where they were having a temple celebration (Ganung Raung). No tourists here at all so it was pretty awesome. Apparently these happen ever 6 months to a year and its a 5/6 day thing where people from around the village travel to present offerings to the gods, pray, sing, dance and eat. Chantelle and I had to dress in some sarongs and even I had to wear one of those head pieces. Hot pink haha!
The view of Ganung Batur was pretty quick once we got up there. It’s one of 2 active volcanoes on the island. The area we were standing around was actually the edge of the caldera if you look carefully. Nice view from here. Would have been cool to do a trek to the top for sunrise if we had more time.
Last stop of the day was Ganung Kawi which was a nice combination of un-harvested rice fields. I got some beautiful shots here as the sun was setting behind. The temple itself was a little different from the other ones we had seen so far. The central area was roughly the same – lots of stone statues and different huts for various gods and entrances that look like mountains cut in half. The cool part was the ancient temple relics carved into the hillside in the rock and ancient praying rooms. We had to take off our shoes here which was mad painful walking on rock but was pretty neat to see.
Kuta to Meet Canadian Friends
After that it was pure K.O. on the van as it took 2 hours to get back to our hotel. At this point you’re thinking “wow what a packed day” right? Well it doesn’t exactly end there because Chantelle’s friends from Canada were coincidentally also in Bali chilling out so we decided to meet up in Kuta for dinner at 8:30. We didn’t get back to our hotel until 8 so we quickly rinsed off the layer of sweat that accumulated throughout the day and got changed. Suffice to say we were late at the restaurant Made Warung. After dinner we walked just a bit along one of the main strips of Kuta and checked out Aaron and Ping’s stylin’ motorcycle (how the heck you drive one of these out here is a mystery). After that we were too tired to do anything so it was shower then sleep. Putu adventures Part 2 next!
- Bali is the only place in Indonesian that is Hindu dominated. The rest of Muslim. So that means…PIG out (literally) here.
- There are over 20,000 temples in Bali. Every village has 3 temples. Every intersection has a temple/statue. Yup it’s Hindu temple crazy here.
- 60+% of the tourists here are Australian which kind of makes sense since northern Australia is actually pretty close to Indo. There used to be more Japanese tourists here but I guess the economy hasn’t been that great.
- Indonesia was part of the Dutch empire until the Japanese took over during WWII. After being liberated Indonesia declared independence but not long after the Dutch came back to try to reclaim it but was unsuccessful.
- Thank you is something along the lines of ” Terimah Kasih”
- I’m probably a dumbass but I had no idea rice came from the wheat-like stems at the top. I had always thought they were in the roots for some odd reason.
- In the villages there is no garbage collection so that’s why you see random bon fires on the side of the street
- In the villages post goes to the community leaders
- In the villages the streets don’t have names. Funny enough Putu said that Google Maps is pretty damn accurate even with the unnamed streets
- Everyone here has a Blackberry here it’s crazy. iPhones are just too expensive to own so Blackberry must have like 80% penetration. The rest seems to be Nokias. Putu was on his BBM all day long.
About Putu Arnawa
Read more about my adventures with Putu in my guest post with The Planet D
- Private driver and photographer local to Bali and lives in both Denpasar and has
- Find him at http://www.balifriend.com/
- Speaks excellent English
- Highly recommended
- Imagine if you got some random Taksi guy to take you out for a day. You ‘d barely be able to understand what he’s saying, would continually try to ups-ell you on stuff and would be pretty rigid on where to take you.
- Pros: Highly knowledgeable, flexible with itinerary planning, you can actually have conversations with him, comfy van, super friendly
- Cons: Not much to speak of other than I suppose he’s less proactive about giving you information so make sure you ask lots of questions
- Get a private driver to take you around Bali. Use Putu Arnawa (insert contact info)
- Despite the Conrad being a pretty awesome hotel, the Nusa Dua/Tengoban Benoa area is just too far from the main attractions on the island. Ubud is a good base for all the country side/temple sights and sad to say Kuta/Legian/Seminyak are good bases for the southern part of Bali. Travelling from our area always added about 1.5 hours each way because of insane chaotic traffic and this one main round-about clog right by the airport.
- When changing money make sure you double check all the bills even after they count it in front of you. Bring USD. The rates for CAD were crap. Wish I had brought more USD.
- Highly recommended to check out some off-the-beaten path local activities like the semi-annual celebrations
- Oh and yes bring bug spray or travel with someone that is popular amongst the mosquito community (*nudge Chantelle)
- Mainly for girls but I guess guys too…bring a spare mini roll of toilet paper if you need to do your business outside the hotel.
- Never pay for asking price at local markets. Start at 40% and go up from there.
- Gas is subsidized by the government and is literally $0.50 USD a liter. What the flip! The government must be so broke by now.
- Breakfast @ the Conrad
- Traditional Barong Dance
- Quick stop overs at a stone mason and silver shop
- Sangeh Secret Monkey Forest Sanctuary
- Lunch @ Babi Guling Ibu Oka
- Ubud Palace Temple
- Ubud market
- Drop by a village temple celebration (Ganung Raung)
- Long ride up to get a view of Ganung Batur
- Ganung Kawi temple
- 2 hour ride back to Conrad
- Cab out to Kuta to meet Aaron and Ping
- Dinner @ Made Warung
Head To The Next Day
To read about the next day, head over to Day 5 – Bali – Putu Round 2.