Tag Archives: bali

It’s all downhill from here

3 Nov

Generally when going to a tropical island for a holiday, one would partake in relaxing activities such as lying on the beach perhaps stirring for the odd massage or cocktail. I however discovered at a very young age that staying still bores me very quickly. I found myself in Ubud and after a sufficient amount of time checking out temples, hanging out by the pool it was time to track down some action.

Everywhere you go in Bali you can find a multitude of stalls selling tickets to pretty much any activity you can imagine. While there was the temptation to climb Agung or Batur, the fact I hadn’t done any real hiking in a few months made me reluctant knowing how terrible climbing a volcano overnight can be when unprepared. I couldn’t however go to Bali without checking out a volcano up close so finding a tour which involved cycling from Mt Batur back to Ubud was just the thing for me.

Not a bad view for breakfast

We left early driving for almost 2 hours up to Kintamani, a village on the edge of the sprawling Batur caldera, a spectacular spot overlooking the massive volcanic landscape and the perfect location for breakfast. From here it was to be a 40km cycle back to Ubud with stops along the way to check out some local industry and villages. I was unsure as to what cycling in Bali would be like after a few attempts to tackle the roads of Central Java on a bike which were soon abandoned after a few too many close calls with trucks.

Along the way we sampled kopi luwak, which I still think does not have a taste that justifies the cost (Sarawakian Coffee though.. I’ll post about that later), saw a traditional Balinese compound, cycled through sprawling rice fields and stopped at an amazing hollowed out tree where some local kids came along and laughed at the tall white girl who spoke Indonesian with the funny accent. It was an amazing insight into Indonesian culture and the Balinese way of life.

Typical Balinese village temple

Reaching the end of the road we were given two options, jump in the truck to head up to lunch or ride an extra 10km uphill. Recovering from a cold and in 30+ degree heat I was apprehensive but the guide assured me that it would be very easy and mostly flat with a few little climbs. It wasn’t. The next 30 minutes were possibly some of the most painful in my life with a feeling that my lungs were going to be ripped out of my chest. Suddenly those beautiful rice paddies became a lot less scenic as I gasped for breath and threw bottles of water over my head in futile attempts to lower my body temperature to make it over the next ridge and then suddenly it was over.

After having an amazing Balinese lunch and a few soft drinks to get the blood sugar levels up to a healthy level again, I realised that the whole day was quite amazing in the end. By cycling we got away from the tourist trail and saw the more authentic Bali, a place full of unique culture and spectacular natural beauty. Would I recommend cycling in Bali? Definitely, in fact when I go back I’ll probably attempt to do some touring on a bike. Although maybe wait until you’ve fully recovered from that cold.

 

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Photo of the Week #17- Fire at Uluwatu

30 Jul

Where- Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

The Kecak dance at sunset is magical. The rhythmic cak-cak-cak of the chorus paired with the stunning backdrop creates an incredible atmosphere and it’s a real must see while in Bali.

Ubud- More than just Eat, Pray, Love

28 Jul

Mention Ubud to a lot of people and the connection with the (in)famous novel Eat, Pray, Love will probably come to mind. The book didn’t do anything to inspire my trip to Ubud and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a must read before visiting Bali but I can understand the appeal.

Needless to say I didn’t go to Ubud looking for any deep spiritual fulfillment but what I found was nothing short of amazing. I stayed in some villas about 15 minutes out of Central Ubud and it was fantastic to be out in the peaceful banjar (village area) and a bit isolated from the tourist throng. Driving into town each day was great looking out at the sprawling rice paddies which make you reconsider your definition of the colour green.

Downtown Ubud

I’ve seen a lot of rice paddies in my time but there were rather special.

Central Ubud itself was very cool. It definitely had a very laid back vibe with all of its alternative culture and yoga classes. The town is focused on a few streets with lots of little shops and it’s really easy to walk around. There are a few popular sights including the Palace and the Monkey Forest. Personally I didn’t go to the Monkey Forest with them not being my favourite animal in the world and around town you hear a few horror stories about how aggressive the monkeys can be.

There is a fantastic arts scene in Ubud. We saw some wonderful traditional dances and whether you want to check out sculptures, wood carving, silver smithing or pretty much any other art form you can imagine you will find it in Ubud.

Busy Ubud Markets

There are specialty villages for each art form scattered across the region and it’s definitely worth going for a drive to check them out and pick up some unique souvenirs.

So that’s my Ubud experience. I didn’t marry a Portuguese man or meet any Balinese medicine men but I had a very enjoyable time exploring the area and highly recommend adding it to your Bali itinerary. It’s best to have a few days there as it is quite a large area and it makes a fantastic base for activities to the north of the island.