Bali, Bali, what a magical place you are!
After a delicious homemade banana pancake breakfast, we took a taxi from Kuta to Ubud, but because streets in Kuta are so narrow, our taxi driver needed to drive us in his motorbike to the car parking lot.
On our way to the cultural area of Ubud, we negotiated with the driver to give us a tour around the Island and then drop us off at our hotel at the end of the day. After some negotiatiating, we were off to our first temple.
Batuan Temple was founded in 1020 AD, and it was our first Balinese temple visited. The island of Bali is the only region in Indonesia that is almost 100% Hindu, the rest of Indonesia is full Muslim.
As a sign of respect we needed to wear a sarong to cover our legs to enter the temple, apparently Hindu gods get scared of very hairy legs so I needed to comply.
We were a little tired so we asked our driver to take us to a special coffee place where they served traditional Balinese Kopi Luwak or Ka-Poo-Chino as called by the locals. You might have heard of Kopi Luwak coffee from the movie “The bucket list”, it is the coffee that includes part-digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet (Luwak).
They gave us a tour explaining how they pick up, clean and process the poo of this animals in order to make coffee, it was a very interesting explanation but we couldn’t wait to try it. The photo below shows the poos with the coffee grains included, the locals dry this stuff and clean the grains after.
We had a flight of about 15 different coffees and teas. The best was the mangosteen tea made by the skin of this delicious fruit and of course we got a cup of Kopi Luwak that was absolutely delicious considering we were drinking poo. A pound of this rare coffee is sold for about $500 per pound in the cheap places, we paid about 4 bucks for this cup (take that starbucks!!)
The next temple was our favorite, Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave). We felt like we were in Indiana Jones . It is a UNESCO world heritage site for its beauty and its surrounded by a beautiful jungle; walking those grounds was mesmerizing.
After that long fight of stairs to get to the temple we needed some hydration, nothing better than a fresh coconut for $1.
We were in this spiritual journey (or just doing the touristy route) so we went to the next temple on the list: Pura Tirta Empul (Holy Sping Water Temple), it consists of a “petirtaa” or bathing structure that contains a spring that gives holy water.
You can see most locals consider this a very spiritual place to get healed and purified, they bring offerings to the gods and follow a procedure where they get water from each of the little fountains. Of course there are a few white hippies that are trying to find the meaning of life by jumping into the holy water as well and copying the rituals; I don’t know if locals consider this offensive.
All around Bali you can see this offerings, they usually put these in the business or home entrances (in the floor) to have a good business day. By the end of the day there are hundreds of these destroyed by distracted tourists stepping on them (who are really not to blame as they are strategically placed in the middle of the sidewalk). They replace these every day with a new one.
We stopped to be taken away by the Mt. Batur in Kuntamani, this is still an active volcano that has erupted 24 times since 1800. The view is breathtaking and you can see the lava field at the bottom of the volcano from the last eruption in 1968.
The volcano is surrounded by Lake Batur, the largest lake in Bali.
Our funny driver Marvin, who was really good that day but who was also kind enough to NOT let us know he was not picking us up the next sightseeing day as agreed. Story to come.
During all our drive Marvin blasted some traditional Balinese music that I’m pretty sure is what they use in Gauntanamo to torture terrorists. The best way I can describe is if you put 15 drunk elementary kids to play only the triangle and cymbal instruments during 5 hours: Traditional Balinese music example
The last stop of the day was the beautiful Tegalalang rice terraces. There were no tourists in there anymore as it was already late. We still managed to get in and walked around the terraces.
Even after paying the entrance fee, you get stopped regularity by angry indigenous people that installed a homemade checkpoint with forced donations. You have to pay if you want to keep going and eventually exit the rice field, if you don’t “donate” they will probably use your dead body to condiment their rice.
We were tired from a long day of sightseeing so we very excited when we arrived at our very nice and romantic hotel. We have a cute little bungalow immersed in the jungle which includes breakfast delivered to your room for about 20 bucks a night. We had dinner at a popular restaurant in Ubud filled with many hippies drinking healing drinks. It was like Indonesian tapas because they served many small plates and Eitan drank Turmeric Tea, which is a delicious medicinal tea that supposedly will help him with period cramps.
Bonus photo: You better think twice if you want to visit Bali while you are on your period. But if I read that sign correctly, all women are not allowed any time.