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 an extra fee (additional to the RP10.000 (1 Aud) to cover photos, etc 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 fish pond and huge banyan trees 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. 

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 of 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 frogs 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 the morning 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, a small eatery 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. A mural was being painted outside the 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 sore 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.


  1. A beautiful month and beautiful photographs. You know me though, I get stuck with all the wonderful food. You made my stomach growl.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Sami. ♥

    1. Thanks Sandee. There was plenty of food on this trip for sure!

  2. Dearest Sami,
    Well, since Indonesia is right on the equator, that means they do live on a tropical schedule. We both got up every morning at 5:00 AM while living and working there. We always felt bad for the tourists that continued their 'Western' schedule of late night sleep after visiting the bar and for that starting the day too late. When we were going down the mountain, those mini buses with tourists just were driving up the mountain. At the same time the clouds were already pulling together and the beautiful paradise like view was quickly disappearing...
    Sad that you did not have a knowledgeable tour guide that could fill you all in on the rice crop!
    And did you go to the Mas and or Ubud artists, the wood and stone carvers?
    The food always meant heaven to both of us and especially the variety of fresh fruits.
    Looking forward to your upcoming posts about Bali!

    1. Thanks Mariette. We didn't see guides at the rice field, everyone was on their own, which I found strange as in other places like temples I saw guides offering their services. We didn't visit wood carvers.

    2. Sad Sami that you did not have any good guides for explaining the how and why. Also the world famous Balinese woodcarving is not something to be passed... Our boss had a huge wood carved panel in his office and you can see me stand beside it here:

    3. With 3 days in Ubud we didn't have time to see everything we wanted. Who knows we will visit again one day.

    4. Yeah, you are very close to Bali and a visit during the dry monsoon would be far better!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks William, your comments always seem to go to spam!

  4. It all looks so beautiful but it does sound like it was difficult at times.

    1. I think you need to be fit, specially in Ubud, as it's in a hilly setting, pavements can be dicey as lots of holes, missing or broken pavers, we only visited one waterfall in Ubud, as it was awful to descend to the bottom of the fall to go and swim, and then come up again...

  5. Ainda não perdi a ideia de recriar na minha casa de Macau um ambiente semelhante ao dos quartos dos resorts de Bali.
    Vamos ver se é possível.
    Indonésia ou Tailândia.
    De onde for mais fácil importar mobília e artesanato.

    1. Tambem gosto imenso desse ambiente relaxante, gostava dum jardim Balines, mas nao temos humidade aqui para termos um jardim tao verde!

  6. Bali looks so good in your portfolio of the region. I envy your holiday travels

  7. Sami, oh. It took us once 3 hours to get to Wolfsburg as a truck with animals had an accident. Don´ it was hell!
    My colleague even thought it´s funny.
    Beautiful views and lovely picture of you two.
    That fruit looks great!
    Ingo would love that coffee, I bet. My stomach can´t take any anymore.

    Great huts and adventurous arrival.
    2:30 am. Oh, weee.... But may have been worth it? Next time?

    Awwww... I have a tin-bucket upside down on the balcony and hear the rain (a bit) right now, too!
    I always use ear protection for sleep. But there.. it would help just little...

    Interesting with the deceased. And good commitment - we all should live that way.

    "Gardens and house at the Ubud's Royal Palace" came out supergreat!
    That reminder is a very good one! At Volkswagen I saw it works for most the other way round!

    Thank you, Sami, this was great - looking forward to next week!

    1. An accident can really derail traffic. But in Bali traffic chaos was everywhere, but the driver's are so patient and very polite and kind to each other, letting cars go on narrow streets... Thanks Iris

  8. ...I've heard a lot about Bali and sure is a gorgeous place. Our son and DIL have been there. Thanks Sami for taking me along.

    1. Thanks for hosting Tom. The island has become super popular in the last 20 years or so apparently. I heard accents from all over the world.

  9. What a beautiful and exotic place, Sami. Yes, I suspect the pop-up photographers could get vary annoying at one time or another! I love all the signs you found. This is a part of the world I've never been even close to -- so I love seeing it through your eyes.

    1. They weren't photographers Jeanie, just the people "looking after" the swings or any other props people used for photos, that would pop up from I don't know where and ask for money (like that reed heart where we posed - photo above).


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