Wednesday 8 February 2023

Monthly Wrap- up - December - Bali & Signs (part 4)

And finally, our last days in Bali :

Also linking to "Signs" at Tom's blog.

Friday 30th - breakfast at the tiny coffee shop - Monkey Bar (could probably sit 6 people) next to Nur Guest House

Jose & Thomas enjoying the view. Omelette for the boys and a bowl of fruit and granola for me

Signs from the breakfast area at guest house

At 10,30Am we were picked up by an arranged driver, and our first stop was the Goa Gajah Temple (also known as the Elephant Cave temple), part Bhudist, part Hindu temple. The temple was built on a hillside where two small streams meet, thus making the site a sacred place. Entry fee is Rp15,000 (1,50 Aud)

No elephants at the temple except for this statue at the entrance

The temple of Goa Gajah dates back to the 11th century and is famous for the "elephant cave". Not sure why it was named so, but an elephant wouldn't fit in the 15 metres (50ft) deep, narrow cave entrance. 

Inside they had incense baskets burning, but I found the smoke and smell too overwhelming and couldn't go all the way in.

All over the lush park are huge banyan trees, some with gigantic roots.

Spectacular view from above, before descending the staircase

Elephant cave


A banyan tree and the gigantic roots



Our next stop was at Kanto Lampo waterfall, apparently, one of the nicest falls in Ubud. We paid a small entry fee Rp20,000 (2 Aud) and had to descend what felt like hundreds of steps, changed into our bathers and went into the shallow pool formed by the waterfall cascading over rocks.

Under the fall there was a queue of young people posing and pouting for their Instagram photos. We couldn't be bothered waiting in line to take a photo with the water dropping behind us... The water was refreshing in that heat!

Descending the "hundreds of steps" down to the waterfall

Kanto Lampo waterfall

It was way past lunch time, and our driver took us to lunch at the nearby Warung D'Carik Tibumana, a simple restaurant where we sat outdoors surrounded by rice paddies. The food was great, quick service and quite cheap.


After lunch we decided to return to our accommodation instead of driving around to look at other nearby waterfalls. We had enough of stairs!

The traffic on the way back was awful, and eventually when we were about 20 min away by foot from our place, we asked the driver if he would just let us out and we would walk and he could then carry on forward on that main road back home, instead of turning into another clogged main road to drop us. 

We settled our agreed fee and got on the way, arriving about 15 minutes later. I wonder how long the poor driver took to get out of that busy intersection!

On the way home I found a Warung with my name 🤣

At the guest house we still had time for a swim in the pool before getting ready for dinner.

This time we chose to go to a Greek restaurant on the main road - Oia

Food and service were ok, but as we finished our mains and asked for dessert, we were told the kitchen had closed, so no desserts, no coffees.... The men weren't impressed, and I had to agree customers should have been advised that the kitchen would be closing in case we wanted to other anything else. I can't remember the time, but it wasn't late either, there were others still dining... but the staff was very young and obviously inexperienced.

Oia Greek restaurant

As we were finishing our dinner, we heard chanting and music and I went to the front of the restaurant and saw a procession of Balinese people signalling the end of the festivities at the nearby Pura Dalem temple.

The ladies dress in a tightly wrapped sarong and beautiful lace blouses (kebaya) with a sash, and the men wear a sarong with white shirts and a "udeng" (white head scarf with a knot).

Beautiful young ladies in traditional dress for the festivities

The procession at the end of the festivities


Saturday 31st - Our last day in Ubud:  I had an early swim in the pool, then Jose and I went for a coffee and a smoothie for me, and shared a slice of carrot cake at Pukako Cafe, just a 5-minute walk down the lane.

Then Karina and I went for a walk on the 4km (2,49miles) trail next to the river Wos - Campuhan Ridge Walk. 

The main street on the way to the trail

Even though the trail is paved, it is very steep, and I found it hard to walk with the very hot and humid weather.  

The views from above over Ubud are stunning, you can see part of the town, the river, the forest...and on the trail there are statues, temples, gates, and a few Warungs (local shops/cafes) where you can stop for refreshment...

We walked for about 40 minutes and decided to return - much easier coming back! We had a cool shower in our huts before going for our last dip in the pool, finished our packing and it was time to check out and say goodbye to Ubud.

Our Balinese hut in Ubud

We checked out around midday, and our taxi driver drove us to Harris Hotel in Denpasar, which was just a few minutes from the airport. Again it took just over 1,30h to do about 30km (18,64 miles)!

(Originally our return flight was meant to be at 9am on 1st January, hence we had decided to spend our last evening as close to the airport as possible, but the airline later changed it to 12,30pm which was better for us as we could have a more relaxed morning).

After checking-in at Harris Hotel Kuta Tuban, and being "sold" on the New Year's Eve buffet dinner for $20 Aud (no drinks included), we dropped our bags in our rooms, changed and went for a swim in the hotel pool. 

Harris Hotel in Denpasar

We had to be at the New Year's Eve dinner by 7pm the latest, as they were closing the dining room at 8.30pm.

The buffet was actually very generous and tasty for the 20$ Aud, with a few mains, salads, desserts and fruits. And it was beautifully presented with fruit/vegetable carvings.

The four of us in front of the fruit carving

After dinner the 4 of us sat at a table by the pool and had a glass or two of Baileys (we finished the bottle we had brought from the Free shop in Perth) and we contacted the whole family via WhatsApp to wish them a happy New Year.

The hotel pool at night

We had wanted to go to the beach (10 min walk) to watch the fireworks at midnight, but it had started to drizzle at 10pm, so we went back to our hotel room instead to watch a movie. At midnight when we heard the  fireworks "bangs" we went into the balcony and watched from afar.


Sunday 1st - Checked-out from Harris Hotel and at 9 Am, boarded the free hourly shuttle bus to the very modern Denpasar airport just 3 or 4  minutes away. 

Check-in, passport and luggage control was pretty fast, and we had time to sit down at one of the airport's cafes and relax before our 12,30pm flight back to Perth.

The flight was delayed by one hour, but we finally arrived in Perth 3,30h later.

Modern Denpasar Airport

More signs:

"Aice" - ice-cream, and a very old petrol pump which I think they use for motorbikes

Home temples - all houses had them, sometimes more than one

Various doors & temples

Conclusion about our trip to Bali:

Bali - known as the "Island of the Gods" because it has over 20 thousand temples, as well as "The land of smiles" as the Balinese are known to be very friendly, tolerant and kind people who smile a lot.
Bali is also an exotic destination, with its tropical weather, unique and vibrant cultural experiences, nice beaches, cheaper lifestyle ...

Sadly, because Bali has grown very quickly, the infrastructure has not kept up, and with the increased number of residents and more and more tourists, the amount of rubbish (garbage) that washes up on the beach, also coming from neighbourhood islands, means every day cleaners rake the beaches, but at the end of the day the waves have brought more rubbish again...
The Balinese have the habit of sweeping the front of their houses, shops, etc every day, a few times a day....but then I would see lots of rubbish heaped up in some corners...I'm not sure about rubbish collection, as I didn't see trucks collecting bins, or not many bins anywhere, and no recycling being encouraged anywhere... 
The island really doesn't have the infrastructure to receive the millions of visitors it receives. 

With Bali closed to tourist during the pandemic and with no Government help the people really suffered and struggled financially as they mostly rely on tourism, and I found that we could hardly walk around without being approached to buy something - clothes, wood carvings, bone carvings, souvenirs.... I felt bad, because
much better off then the locals I wish I could help everybody, but I don't need any more stuff, more clothes, and we couldn't help everybody...
We bought 3 sarongs and a shirt and hat for Jose and wooden box. But I hate haggling too!

I was also aware of a lot of street dogs and cats. Some had collars so they might have belonged to people but just wandered around... On the other hand there are a lot of organizations doing good things like sterilizing animals and taking care of street animals and try to get them adopted and educating the Balinese in caring for "pets".

Was it a dream destination? Will we return?
We didn't really enjoy our first few days in Seminyak, it was just streets of shops, restaurants, hotels... the dark volcanic sand beach wasn't as pretty as most of Perth's beaches either, a lot of construction (hotels) right on the sand... 
In hindsight we should have arranged transport and gone to see other nicer areas nearby.
We loved Ubud - the lush surroundings, the temples, the waterfalls, the food, the kind people, the cultural and spiritual aspects...

We are only 3 1/2 hours flight away, and I know people in Perth who go to Bali a couple of  times a year, others who have been there 30 times.... 
I would certainly like to go back, maybe to other areas that are not as tourist oriented, or where you don't feel the pressure to buy things. 

There are those who go to fancy resorts (which are still cheaper than any hotel here), but they just stay in the resort, going from the private beach to the pool, but I don't think that you get to know people or culture, if you don't leave the resort, so that's not ideal for me.
Who knows? There are so many other countries on my bucket list 😉


  1. From everything I have heard, Bali epitomizes the worst aspects of tourism, and your report seems to confirm this, Sami. I am always happy that on the kinds of travel we do we completely miss these tourist areas and enjoy what is left of wild places with fauna and flora. Sadly, such places throughout the world are harder and harder to find as rapacious humans continue to destroy everything else.

    1. It's true David, but sadly most people want to see the big cities and the old monuments.

  2. What a beautiful place filled with wonderful food. You know how I get stuck on your food. A wonderful way to ring in the new year.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Sami. ♥

  3. There are beautiful artefacts sculptures and wonderful foods. Thanks for sharing these travel images.

  4. Dearest Sami,
    Too bad that you never contacted me, knowing that we worked and lived for three years in Indonesia and having contacts since 1971.
    Also the Team Leader from the Indonesian Rotary Exchange of Executives was the former Dutch Consul of Bali. He was our houseguest and he has helped us numerous times booking for dear friends a DREAM vacation, including tours and all. Aloysius Purwa is his name and he runs the all included KCB Tours:
    Then your writing would have been the opposite from what you published...
    Didn't you try the Indonesian breakfast while there? Both of us LOVED all Indonesian food so much and would take that any time over western items.
    MISS that.
    Our foster daughter Anita also met with Aloysius after he helped her with the ticket when she graduated from University—to come and visit us in the USA for two months. Excellent service by him and his team.
    And talking about the traffic, you must consider that in mountainous regions, the valleys get a lot more congested—that is quite normal.
    The dogs roaming in the streets was annoying to the time when we went to Bali, that is a very negative aspect indeed!
    So please do prepare better for next visit.
    My cousin Liz flies over to Denpasar all the time and so do more of my Aussie relatives and they all LOVE it!

    1. I'm not complaining about the tours we did, which we actually enjoyed. Chaos confuses me a bit, and I just didn't like the awful traffic, all over the island, not only in Ubud, because it's mountainous!! The cars and motorbikes are bumper to bumper from Denpasar to Seminyak and from Seminyak to Ubud, both ways, the streets are narrow and there are shops and houses right next to the roads all the way, plus people trying to cross streets, and kids and dogs near the street... . You were in Bali over 30 years ago, a lot has changed in the island for sure, specially the fact that before Covid, Bali had 6,3 million tourists a year, the majority of them being Australian, so that proves Australians love Bali! But I'm certainly not the only was who was a bit disappointed with our visit, I know a lot of people who have been once and don't plan on going again, just as I know people who have been over 30 times and go there every year, but then they don't have family ties in Europe or anywhere else, so they take a cheaper holiday and can't be bothered travelling longer distances or spend more money on flights, hotels, etc, etc than they would spend in Bali. And no, I did not have an Indonesian breakfast, but we don't usually eat much in the morning, so some fruit or fruit juices, or something light would be more than enough. With the exception of a Western breakfast and the Greek dinner we ate out every other meal at Balinese restaurants with traditional food.
      Just as someone might go to a specific country and not enjoy it, but others enjoy visiting that same country, only means we all have different tastes, and different experiences...

    2. Okay Sami, we have different experiences!

  5. Vivo há muitos anos rodeado desses paraísos.
    Facilmente acessíveis e economicamente muito viáveis

    1. Muitos paises Asiaticos sao bastante acessiveis e economicos para viajar. Obrigada Pedro

  6. It all looks so fabulous in your photos but it is as I expected. I've heard similar stories over the years. I could not cope with the heat and humidity and the only way I might do it is as you describe in a negative way. A villa, a servant, strong air con and a personal pool. Sad really. I understand the hunger English people have for warmth and sunshine on the Costa del Sol, but we don't need that.

    1. I'm not a fan of very crowded places for my holiday either. Thanks Andrew

  7. I've never been one for visiting a tropical climate but your Bali photos are making me rethink that! It looks terrific!

    1. Thanks Jeanie. The humidity can be challenging but some parts of Australia can be quite humid too and people get used to it.

  8. I hope you see this, because I am late seeing your final days in Bali. As always, your food is something I love to see. But I also enjoyed all the photos of the places you visited. You pack SO much into each day and you never seem to stop. What a great vacation you must have had and your photos show it, too. Thanks for showing us Bali through your eyes.

    1. Thanks so much Elizabeth, it was quite a different holiday from the ones we usually have in Europe, but I loved getting to know a bit of the culture and the beautiful monuments.

  9. ...Sami, this was a trip of a lifetime, thanks for sharing and taking me along.

    1. Thank you Tom, glad you enjoyed the armchair trip :)


I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment.