Bali Mountains and Monkeys

Firstly let me apologise for the extended leave of absence from posting anything… To be honest I have not even written anything new for a while. I blame the awesomeness of the Philippines!!!

So back to Bali:

Ubud

Our trip from Uluwatu to Ubud, with Eko was a really cool experience… For me, Jo was still feeling horrid and so she slept on the back seat for most of the way. Eko spoke about the Bali traditions and about the food, of which he highly recommended the Babi Guleng, which is a baby pig on the spit. I was really keen to try it out. He told us of a few places to try it. There were a couple of other dishes that were not Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng (Fried rice and Fried Noodle) which we were happy about.

We were speaking about the famous Indonesian coffee, Koppie Luwak, which is the most expensive coffee in the world. It is also collected out the poo of a civet looking cat thing called a Luwak. They are nocturnal and go around at night eating the ripe coffee fruit, and they end up crapping out the coffee bean. The bean is collected and then washed and processed to make the end coffee product.

Eko offered to take us to a Coffee house where they produce the coffee and where we could get a tasting for free, however he did say that the tasting is for a wide range of different coffees and teas and you actually had to buy a cup of the Koppie Luwak if you wanted to try it. It was IDR50000 per cup which is about R55, or around US$3.75. It is actually extremely good, we thought. It was strong but smooth and when you taste it compared to the other coffees you could actually tell it was so much better. The place did have the Luwaks in cages and they were getting woken up from the activity around them which was one thing we did not like. I think that the whole production of this coffee is now very commercialised and that is to the detriment of the animals. We vowed never to buy it again. The other products they made were very different, with the tasting consisting of Flavoured Coffees and Teas, all in the setting of a beautiful garden with coffee trees and cacao trees all around. I fell in love with Rosella tea. We had had Rosella juice in Thailand at the Land Split but never as a tea. It is naturally sweet but not too sweet like everything else in this part of the world.

Afterwards Eko dropped us off at our accommodation and we checked into the Villa looking guesthouse. There were small walkways amongst the palm trees and tall 3 storied buildings with little balconies and stairways leading up to the different levels. Our room was a decent size and it was pretty clean. It only had a ceiling fan which was more than useless. Literally a butterfly could fart harder than that fan could blow air! The blades spun at a decent speed so I decided to do a slight, manual, modification on the shape of the blades. So I bent them more so that they would move more air… Turns out there is a bloody kids toy motor that runs this whole thing, the stupid little thing could not rotate properly because the modified blades created too much resistance!!! I decided to bend them back because I would rather have the blades spinning than nothing at all. We ended up sleeping fine on all the nights, I just had a lot of cold showers during the day and before I jumped into bed.

That evening Jolene was still down and out, I just ran into the town and got some Tomato Soup for the both of us. She had a few sips and then just went back to bed. I stayed awake for a bit and worked on the blog.

The following day Jo was starting to feel a bit perkier, but still quite wary. We decided to stay in Ubud town and just do some things in the area. I finally found an Optometrist who could make up some new glasses for me in 48h and at a reasonable price. I was sick of not being able to see… The frame I picked was nothing like my old pair because I thought a change in look would be good, and also this frame came with a magnetic sunglasses lens. We then had a phenomenal Coconut Ice-cream with fruit salad for lunch.

Ubud is a very Westernised town of Bali, where there are tons of little Cafes and boutique clothes shops and well presented restaurants and bars. It was also like being in the middle of Australia… Australians everywhere!!! It is a short flight for them so it can be a weekend island getaway. In all honesty Ubud had the most tourists walking around than anywhere else we visited in Indonesia. Also the Taxi drivers here were relentless, they were like vultures lined up along the road. They would haggle at you consistently to no end, and they just could not get the concept of just walking and having a general look around the town. There was a feeling that you had to be heading to a final destination and you knew exactly where that was. On occasion when we did mention a destination that was around a few kilometres away they would offer the most ridiculous price that there was no point even trying to haggle them down. We ended up just ignoring them entirely and not even giving them the time of day.

We decided to visit Monkey Forest, which is a forest (No shit) with a Balinese Hindu temple in it, and a crap load of Monkeys… We weren’t too keen on going in the beginning because we were quite sick of seeing monkeys, which is not normal for me as I like to see most animals. These monkeys, however, were fed by humans and the close interaction had become quite sad and also dangerous. The monkeys in S/E Asia had a distinct addiction to sugar and they would steal anything from your bag but in most cases lose interest in anything that did not contain sugar. Also if you tried to resist them taking something then they would become aggressive. I felt feathers for people who were bit and were asking for it. We would walk past monkeys without fussing over them and we had no issues, except for the one time in Malaysia but that will come in a future post.

The natural forest was beautiful as was the temple. The walkway through the forest had a mystical feel to it, with the sun shining through the canopy in rays and the large twisted vines creeping up the trees. The temple shrines in amongst the forest gave it a slight Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider feel. Their were also some entertaining young monkeys who were jumping off some branches of a tree into a pond and then running up the branches again to jump back in. It was a hot day and I think they were feeling it too. We also took some photos of a couple of older monkeys licking the walls of the temple which was interesting and confusing.

That was all the activity we did for the day, which did turn out to be a lot of walking around.

Jo was feeling crappy still but was willing to start exploring further afield, so we hired a scooter and headed for the rice terraces in the surrounding farming area. The drive out was stunning as we made our way up and down small hillsides and in amongst the rice paddies. However when we arrived at the Terraces, and the rain subsided, we forgot all about the ride because our breath was taken away by what stood in front of us. The terraces are stunning and make for some epic photos. The crazy part was that they had to make all these terraces at some point and they sure as nuts didn’t use a tractor or earth mover. It was incredible. Oh yes and a lot of bamboo structures, water catcher, boom gate, fences amongst other things, had wooden dicks attached. Yes you read right, the one thing we started to notice on Bali was that they liked to make wooden dicks that they sold on key chains or huge ones that I don’t have a clue what you would do with. They were attached to random structures in all sorts of places. I think it had to do with the god of fertility, or atleast I know it had something to do with Fertility. It was weird.

I hope the photos give a reasonable idea of how beautiful this place was.

That evening I picked up my new Glasses!!!!!!!

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Dinner was an amazing mixed grill and some chicken sate.

River Rafting was the activity of the following day. We were given our life jackets and a paddle to carry whilst we walked for about 30 minutes to the edge of the river. There were 7 of us including the guide. We were briefed and then thrown down the river… It was not actually that intense but it was a ton of fun. The guide kept slapping the water with his paddle and shouting crocodile, which got a bit old but otherwise he was reasonably entertaining. The GoPro kept fogging up because the water was so much colder than the outside air, so not too many great videos or photos were taken. I did manage to ruin every ones final photo, which the rafting company takes from the side of the river, by pulling the most ridiculous faces… It was worth it!

We called in early that night because we had a 2am wake up the next day. We were going to go do the Sunrise hike up the Batur volcano. The morning was difficult and even the strong coffee did not help to wake us up properly. We stopped in at a coffee shop which the tour company that we used owned, for breakfast and coffee at around 3:30am. The actual hike started at about 4:30 and once we started to walk we felt more awake. There were a shit-ton of people doing the same thing. The train of torch lights ran all the way from the bottom of the mountain to the top. It was quite a sight to see in itself. The walk was strenuous but we went at a slow pace due to the other million people doing the same thing. It was so so so worth it though, the sunrise was beautiful. The place we were sitting was a perfect place that allowed us to get some amazing views. It was chilly up in the mountain and we were lucky that we were both wearing long sleeve tops and long pants, others were not so lucky. Once the night had given way to the sun we could see the crater much better and there were tiny spots where steam could be seen coming out from the crater. All in all it was a beautiful morning and well worth the early wake up.

Once we were back in Ubud we packed up our bags and checked out. We were heading for the Twin Lakes, Tamblingan and Buyan, up in the highlands. Our planning was terrible and we had not made contact with Eko, our trusty driver, which made us feel bad about calling him up over the weekend and asking him to travel 2 hours to come pick us up and take us a further 3 hours away. We also checked and Uber was not available in Ubud, actually taxi drivers had made sure that the Uber drivers were not allowed in Ubud. We finally decided to take a knock and got a taxi, which firstly was way too pricey and then kept trying to make us stop for coffee and food at their pals coffee shops and restaurants which we did not entertain and just insisted that we go straight to our destination. After he dropped us off we decided that we would not make use of another taxi!

It was raining Cats, Dogs, Cows and even elephants when we arrived. We got completely drenched just from running 3m from the car to the reception building. The towns name was Wana Giri. and it was a very untouristic area with a very rural and local feel to it. We knew there were lakes right in front of the accommodation but the rain was so heavy we could not see them.

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