Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Monthly Wrap- up - December - Bali & Signs (part 3)

Following from From part 2:

Wednesday 28th - we checked out from our villa in Semyniak at 9am, and our driver Yoga, drove us to Ubud, the cultural area in the foothills of Mount Agung in northern Bali.  Due to the chaotic traffic, it took us 1,30h to travel 30km (18,64miles) !!

On the way, we stopped at the Tegalalang rice terraces - one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ubud with its terraced layout of the rice paddies.  There are a couple of small stalls scattered in the fields that sell drinks, coconut water and souvenirs. 

If you want to take photos on the swings or in front of signs that are all over the fields someone will always pop up to charge something. It's not much of course, but it can be a bit annoying. I would rather they charged a fee to enter the area and even have signs explaining how rice is sown, harvested, etc, because you leave the area not knowing much about the culture of the rice anyway.

The rice fields were the highlight of our trip, truly beautiful, even though you have to be fit to go up and down the fields, climb narrow steps, step over puddles, avoid the muddy areas, etc. I was almost breathless as I reached the top on our way out. 

We then had lunch at a small restaurant overlooking the fields - Surya Terrace, but I could only manage a fruit platter as I was tired and sweaty with the high humidity.

The restaurant was down the stairs overlooking the rice fields.

My fruit platter lunch

Panoramic view from the restaurant over the rice fields

Back in the taxi, our next stop was the Tirta Empul Temple (dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu God of water) not too far from the rice terraces. This popular temple is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and dates back to 960AD. The complex was built on top of a crystal-clear natural spring. 
Both Hindus and spiritual tourists visit this temple for the purification/bathing rituals. (We didn't take part in this).
Everybody is lent a sarong to wear to cover their legs, which is included in the entry price.
The temple was magnificent, with some beautiful doors and statues, the huge koi pond and a huge banyan tree being the main attractions.

After the temple we visited a coffee plantation that do coffee and tea tasting - Segara Windhu Coffee Plantation.
The staff explained the processing of coffee beans, the various types of beans, the roasting process... and then you sit down for a tasting.

They had kopi luwak or civet coffee, which consists of partially digested coffee cherries which are eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet.
I'm not a coffee drinker, but neither Jose, Karina or Thomas enjoyed the various coffees they tasted, all too bitter.  (They hadn't liked it in coffee shops either)

Coffee beans, sorting and roasting

The civet (which was in an enclosure), the open air tasting area, the various coffees and teas, brewing the coffee

Shortly after starting our coffee tasting, we had to move under cover as it started to rain heavily.

A great view over a forest 

They had plenty of great coffee signs at the plantation:

On the drive to our accommodation, it started raining heavily again. When we were about 10 min away Karina contacted reception as the driver said the car wouldn't go all the way there, and he was right! 

The huts where we stayed were on a narrow lane, wide enough for 2 bikes side by side only. They sent two people in motorbikes down to the main road to load our luggage, and we walked the 5 odd minutes up the pathway until our guest house - Nur Guest House

The rain had stopped but restarted as we finished check-in. We had two little Balinese huts side by side, with just a bedroom and bathroom, and the use of a lovely pool which served the complex of 4 or 5 huts.

Our hut, bedroom, bathroom and pool

walkway between the pond to the huts where they had tables to eat while sitting on the floor

The view from the entrance to Nur Guest House - Mt Batur, an active volcano 1717mt high, that last erupted in 2000. Karina was keen on the hike to the top, but it meant a guided challenging 4-hour trek starting at 2,30am to reach the summit at sunrise around 7am. Nobody else was keen, so she didn't go either.

Mt Batur in the distance and rice fields across from Nur Guest House

After unpacking and a rest we went to dinner at Casa Luna restaurant.  

The meal and service were great, the restaurant is partly owned by an Australian Janet DeNeefe who has spent the last 30 years in Bali championing the cuisine and culture of her adopted home. 

She is a cookbook author and also founder of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

After dinner we walked to the guest house and sat outside our hut having a drink listening to the rain fall.

Thursday 29th - I didn't sleep too well the three nights we spent there, as the crickets in the pond at the entrance to the complex made a hell of a racket the whole night, there was music from the temple just 500mt away, there was a cat that miawed during the night, a gecko "sang" in what appeared to be inside our room, someone swept pavements at 5Am (it's a Balinese thing apparently to sweep between 5 and 6am!!), the neighbour's chickens started singing pretty early too, grrrrr...

Just around the corner from our accommodation, on the main street of Ubud (Jl Raya Ubud) there was a beautiful temple - Pura Dalem, (Temple of death, dedicated to Rangda, the Demon Queen) with a beautiful gate. 

When someone dies in Bali they are temporarily buried, and their spirit resides in pura dalem until a cremation ceremony takes place and that person is free to be reincarnated.

During the 4 days we were in Ubud, this temple celebrated Galungan, a festival when the Balinese dress up in their finest traditional clothes to attend prayers at the temples, bringing offerings to share.  It's when the Balinese renew their commitment to try and make tomorrow a better day, by making themselves better each day.

During festivities non-Hindus aren't allowed to go inside the temples, so I just took photos of the beautiful entrance gate.

The steps to the entrance were lined with yellow flowers.

The temple at night

Offering to the Gods that are set out daily in front of houses and shops and even in taxis

We had breakfast at Milk & Made, a western style modern restaurant (eggs Benedict for me). 

After breakfast we crossed the street and visited the Puri Saren Agung (Ubud Royal Palace). Most of the structures in this compound were built after the 1917 earthquake, and the palace is still the residence of Ubud's royal family. A truly exquisite lot of buildings!

Gardens and house at the Ubud's Royal Palace

Back on the main road we visited the Pura Taman Sarawasti Temple (Lotus Temple).  This temple has a large pool with lotus flowers and a nice garden with lots of frangipani trees.

Again tourists couldn't go into the temple through the main gate. There is a cafe - Cafe Lotus, with entry on the main street and the back facing the lotus pond.

Lotus Cafe at the Lotus Temple gardens

We ended with a walk through the Ubud market next to the temple. 

I read somewhere that very early in the day they sell fruit and vegetables, then later on it becomes a clothes and souvenir market.  I found it sad that they had stall after stall selling similar things, so not everyone would sell.

 We had a late snack at Joglo Organik just down the lane from our guest house looking out to the rice fields.  While we were eating heavy rain and thunder started and we just waited it out until we could run back to our huts a few hundred metres away.

On the way to Joglo Organik we came across a Ubud Yoga House - no wonder we used to see lots of young men and women in their gym clothes coming past the lane in front of the guest house.

I also saw a massage place near the restaurant and later on I went for a 1-hour massage.  For the equivalent of less than $20 it was fabulous and left me very relaxed and even my tense neck felt great.

Dinner was at Miro Gardens restaurant on the main road.

Due to the huge number of photos, I'm posting a 4th and final part next week.

Also joining Tom from "The backroads Traveller" in his signs meme on Wednesday.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Monday Murals - Bali airport 1

I love murals and street art. If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you.  Just follow the Linky steps below.  Once you start looking you will find murals everywhere.  The "Monday Mural" meme goes live on Monday at 12,01AM, Perth,Western Australian time. Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters. Looking forward to your mural finds this week. 

Thanks Sami.

At Denpasar Airport I found my first Bali murals. The Balinese people are known to be very artistic painters, wood carvers, dancers, musicians, flower arrangers...

May your journey be free from stress and bring you home safely. Safe travels!

Metal sculpture

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Monthly Wrap-up - December - Bali & Signs (part 2)

 Following from part 1

Also linking to Tom's Signs published on Wednesdays.

Our Bali holiday:

Friday Dec 23 - Upon our arrival at Denpasar airport we waited in line for about 1,30h for passport and visa control. Out in the arrivals hall we bought a local Sim card for my mobile, exchanged some cash to pay the driver we had booked, and eventually came across a "million" drivers bearing signs with names of passengers they were picking up. I spotted our driver, and he steered us to his car in the parking lot.

The roads were chaotic like in most Asian countries, and it had started to rain as well. The driver said the trip to Seminyak (about 10km away) could take about 30 to 34 minutes.

The lovely caretaker Made had been patiently waiting for us for about 2 hours at the Airbnb - Villa Joglo Jagat. When we arrived, he showed us around the house, the garden and pool, handed us the key and gave us his contact in case we needed anything.

The lounge, kitchen and one of the bedrooms

The outdoor area

Shortly after unpacking Karina and Thomas arrived from the airport. 

It had started to rain (it's rainy season in Bali) and we grabbed the 2 umbrellas by the door and went out to eat in a nearby restaurant - Amber Moon Warung - in the main street just a 5-minute walk away. The food was delicious, reasonably priced and good service.  After dinner it was time to sleep.

Dinner at Amber Moon Warung

Saturday Dec 24 - We woke up to a wet day, but we needed to buy a couple of things for our fridge - milk, yogurt, fruit, coffee, Jose and I walked about 15min to a nearby Western like supermarket the caretaker had indicated. It was quite fancy, had goodies from all over the world, a bit pricey, so not a shop for the locals for sure!

Various unknown fruits to us

In the afternoon we walked the 800mt to the beach and had lunch at a Spanish restaurant - La Plancha Bali. Food and service was nothing special, but we had a good view of the beach from where we sat on the first floor.

Dark skies over the sea

After lunch we walked along the beach, and when it started to rain heavily, we were near Ku De Ta (beach club) and we went in for a drink. 

Entrance to KuDeTa

We walked home after the rain stopped and near our house I decided to go for a manicure/pedicure. 

I don't usually have manicures or pedicures in Perth, hardly ever use nail polish...and I was persuaded into using shellac nail polish (maybe because it was more expensive), but it's not something I will ever use again! It lasted 3 weeks, but horribly difficult to remove, having to use tons of acetone which is not good for the nails either! 

Then home for a shower and change of clothes to go to dinner at the beautiful Bambu Restaurant where we celebrated our Christmas eve. 

The various eating platforms are surrounded by water, the service was superb, food was fantastic, quite expensive for Bali... but, it was Christmas!

These metal "crowns" indicated the male and female toilets at Bambu restaurant.

Male and female crowns to indicate the respective toilets

Back home we did a group call to my family in Europe and South Africa to wish them a Happy Christmas, and then we called Jose's family in South Africa and Europe too, and Thomas called his parents and brother.

Sunday Dec 25 - We woke up to a very wet day and we went to lunch at Made's Warung (small family-owned business/eatery) a couple of blocks away from our Airbnb. 

Christmas decorations and Hindu statues in the restaurant

Heavy rains in the afternoon, but at one time when the rain stopped, we walked to the Pettitenget temple in the town centre. Once there we were told we couldn't go in, so we just took photos. 

I think it had something to do with a Hindu festival at the time, so only praying patrons can go in.

As it had started to rain heavily again, we caught a taxi home, that with the chaotic traffic it took longer than if we had walked :)

For dinner we returned to Made's Warung as they were having a show with traditional dancers - Legong. The food and service were very good.

Legong traditional dancers

Monday 26th - Karina and I fell sick during the night and spent most day in bed. I had brought electrolytes with me and had also read that coconut water was good for vomiting, so Jose asked the caretaker who used to pop around every day if he would be able to buy us some coconuts. 

It really helped, as in the afternoon we had both recovered sufficiently, and I even swam a little bit in our small pool. Jose and Thomas went to dinner at Ambermoon Warung, near us, while Karina and I stayed home and had toast and watched a Netflix movie, as we still didn't have much appetite.

Relaxing by the pool 

Tuesday 27th - it was Jose's turn to fall sick during the night and he spent the day in bed or on the sofa watching movies. As it was a sunny day, Karina, Thomas and I walked to the beach, just 800mt down the road.  

Seminyak beach, horses on the beach, Karina and Thomas went for a swim

We had lunch at Dua Sisi Lunch & Bar, down the road from us. At night only Karina and I went to dinner at Ambermoon Warung, (the first restaurant we all went to when we arrived).  Jose didn't feel like eating yet and neither did Thomas, although he was the only one that didn't get sick, so they both stayed home.

After dinner Karina and I went home to pack our suitcases as the following day we were being picked up to be driven to Ubud.

More Signs: 

Canvas picture in an art shop

A chicken in front of a shop, The Colony Hotel, How I met Coffee and a Welcome floor sign

The Goat  - Sports Pub

Flowers of Bali

Part 3 to follow next week.