We checked in our U Tube Hotel & Spa, which was a cool stay, located right by Jl. Raya Uluwatu main street. If we could pick again we'd probably stay more on the western part of Bukit but everything's really close either way. The hotel itself was perfect, with calm atmosphere, friendly staff, scooter rental and an awesome swimming pool.
Our first stop was the famous Uluwatu temple, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above sea level. We were the first ones visiting so the only company we had were the grey monkeys. The location is truly magnificent and the constant waves hitting the cliffs are simply mesmerising. We had our breakfast in one of so many cozy joints of Bukit and headed on to check the Uluwatu surf break and some more beaches on the western side of the peninsula.
Padang Padang beach was packed so we instantly turned around. It's a nice beach though if you can find a place to chill. Then we simply crossed off beaches to the north one by one. Bingin looked promising but the tide was so high that the waves were getting dangerously close to rocks. So we found a nice spot on Dreamland. A huge white sand beach with some development going on. But still it was very peaceful and oh so hot.
Next up: Balangan beach. My favourite on Bukit peninsula. The rocky viewpoint on the far end of the beach is amazing.
Tripadvisor recommended a nice place for dinner - Padang Padang Breeze. It's likely to have the best seafood in Bali so we were convinced. The fish were caught in Jimbaran Bay, a prime location for seafood apparently. We had a combo feast and could barely move at the end. They make a mean mojito as well.
Next day we explored the south. First up - a hike down the jungle to Nyang Nyang beach. A sight which seemed perfect from up top was too good to be true. A good 20 min walk in our flip flops and we were ready to cool off. We were disappointed when we reached the bottom though. It was the dirtiest beach I've ever seen. The tide apparently brings all kinds of shit and leaves a huge belt of plastic along the whole length. Bali obviously has some garbage problems but it's really apparent here.
Nyang Nyang should be a paradise. The water was crystal clear. There were a few surfers in the water, otherwise we had a whole 2 km beach to ourselves.
We continued exploring the south and visited Green Bowl and Pandawa beach. The first one was kind of inaccessible due to high tides and the second one was totally packed. Apparently it was a holiday so there were buses of Indonesians just hoarding down the hill. Not for us. We went for some brunch, relaxed at the pool and planned our transfer to Ubud the next day. Goodbye Bukit!
We reached Ubud with a taxi from the south. Our new accommodation was Ubud Sari Health Resort, quite close to the main street but still just perfectly distant in the beautiful rice fields. It's kind of a quiet and spiritual place, offering detox, cleansing and health programs ... But we were there for the natural surroundings and the pool! Arrived, relaxed, cooled off, ate well and checked the Balinese dance in the evening. Of course I was forced to go :P The dance is really intense. The music makes it even more so. It was an interesting event, however the constant ringing and hectic eye movement for an hour were enough for me.
Ubud Monkey Forest
We first headed to the Monkey Forest, a very famous spot. It was full but interesting nonetheless. The grey monkeys are super fun to watch. I was surprised by how human-like they really are. They can get pretty aggressive and ransack a backpack or two. A bunch of assholes to be honest :)
As far as food is concerned, Indonesia was our favourite destination. We tried the most of local food and loved it. The small and cheap warungs were the highlight of our days. Our favourite was Roda's Warung, located just by our street. We ate there about 5 times.
We even joined a cooking class in Ubud!
We spent 5 days in Ubud and used most of them exploring about. We went on a rainy morning walk over Campuhan Ridge and took a stroll around the neighbouring rice paddies which we enjoyed even more. The local rice farmers are really kind and always smiling. I love that about Bali. Everyone seems happy.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces
Tegalalang village is located north of Ubud, about 20 min by scooter. It's a famous spot for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies. Tegalalang forms the three most splendid terraced landscapes in Ubud's region, the other two located in the villages of Pejeng and Campuhan.
We arrived early in the morning, before the actual sunrise. The entrances next to the road were still closed but we made it in anyway. We kept walking back towards the village entrance, found an open gate and descended down the stairs. No entrance fee there. For about an hour we had the terraces for ourselves and even later it didn't seem to get crowded at all. It truly is an amazing place, one of my favourites for sure.
With all the signs by the road we simply had to try the Luwak coffee. Civet coffee includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. Their digestive mechanisms supposedly improve the flavor of the coffee beans. Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world with prices reaching as high as €550/kg.
We visited a farm by the road. Our guide was very friendly and assured us they can only keep a few of the civets in cages, while the defecated coffee cherries are picked in the wild and processed. But like anywhere else - one can never be sure how they treat these poor animals. They could easily release those few caged civets as well.
We got a tasting of different teas and regular coffee with luwak coffee to compare - I didn't taste much difference.
We first reached Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple while actually searching for the Gunung Kawi Tamparsiring. But no matter, the first one was a beautiful sight as well. Gunung Kawi Sebatu is a Hindu water temple dedicated to Vishnu, who is said to rule over water. The complex is built on a natural spring. We were quite early so it was still empty.
We continued towards Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring, an 11th-century temple and funerary complex, spread around the sacred Pakerisan river. It comprises 10 rock-cut candi - shrines, carved into 7 m high niches of the cliff face. It's an awesome Indiana Jones kind of scene.
As the finale for that day we drove south through the small villages surrounding Ubud and reached the peaceful Tibumana waterfall. Apparently this is one of Bali's best kept secrets. It really was very calm. There are some stunning rice paddies at the entrance as well. The smiling farmers were just waiting for me to take the picture.
Tegenungan waterfall & Goa Gajah
Another day of roadtrippin'. I started with a cup of coffee in the rice paddies close by. Nina joined me after her morning yoga class. I just couldn't get enough of that rice field green colour.
We hopped on our scooter, drove for half an hour and reached the packed area of Tegenungan waterfall. This was a very different story from Tibumana - organised parking, touts, shops and restaurants all over the place. We were there midday and the temperatures were unbearable as well. We took a walk down the stairs to reach the river and the waterfall. It's huge and powerful. A great sight to see. The sun umbrellas next to it not so much.
We stumbled upon Goa Gajah on our way back to Ubud. An ancient temple called the Elephant cave was a nice surprise. No one knows exactly how old it is, but it was a part of the Balinese empire of Bedahulu that ended in the 14th century. At the facade of the cave is a relief of various menacing creatures and demons that appear to have been built to ward off evil spirits. Next to the cave are some bathing pools, a giant tree and a way down in the forest. Apparently there are ruins of a colossal Buddha statue as well.
We returned to Ubud and took a stroll around the streets. We visited the Ubud market and some of the foreign restaurants which are very different than the local warungs. But it's a welcome change every now and then. They offer some fancy smoothies, fruit bowls, different coffees and more western meals.
We also went for a massage in Golden Hands, close to our hotel. Dewa is truly a master, tripadvisor rating says it all. Recommended!
Our last day in Ubud. A taxi took us north to Gunung Batur (1717 m), an active volcano with a caldera lake. We weren't going to hike up so we simply walked around the massive rim in Penelokan, Kintamani village. The clouds already formed around as we weren't that early. The touts here are especially persistent. Usually they go away if you're not interested, but around Batur they never seem to give up.
The first documented eruption of Batur was in 1804, and it has been frequently active since then, most recently in 2000. The hefty lava field from the 1968 eruption is visible from Kintamani village as well.
The caldera is absolutely massive, there's just no end to that rim. Smoke is still rising from the vents on 700 m tall stratovolcano rising above Lake Batur. A scene not to miss!
Our friendly taxi driver took us another way back to Ubud, visiting his home village of Pejeng and beautiful rice paddies all around.
This day concluded our stay in Ubud and Bali. We flew to Flores the next morning for some proper sea vibes and snorkeling!