Saturday, December 1, 2012

Exploring around Ubud

One of my favorite parts of our "premoon" was when we travelled inland to the famous village of Ubud. As you may know, it's become quite a tourist destination since Julia Roberts spilled the secret in Eat Prey Love, but we still fell in love with it. Unless you have already been, I definitely would not recommend skipping it on your Bali trip.

Since Ubud is closer to the middle of the island, and Bali is Huge, its a really good base for some exploring. We hired a driver and went to explore the island. We started by visiting some of Bali's many temples.  

Goa Gajah Temple

The first stop was Goa Gajah, the "Elephant Cave," which is said to have been build in the 9th century as a place for spiritual meditation. Here you can explore the ancient cave fountains and statues and then walk down picturesque pathways and rice paddies down to the river where you can see the crumbled relics of an ancient Buddhist temple.

Pura Tirta Empul

Next we ventured to another beautiful nearby temple...........

Mount Batur

Then we took a trip to one of Bali's volcanoes, Mt. Batur. It was about a 1.5 hour drive from Ubud and on the way our driver took us to visit a coffee plantation where where they produce that famous Indonesian coffee that is really just coffee beans eaten and pooped out by some small animal. I tried it and really thought it was nothing special. Unless you really want to try animal poop coffee my recommendation would be to skip this and go see something else instead like another amazing temple or waterfall.

Upon arriving to the volcano, really didn't know what to expect But when we got there we found a majestic crater containing a lake, Lake Batur, and a few small villages and scattered farmland.

Our driver really wanted to take us to a typical tourist place for lunch but we resisted and insisted that we drive down into the crater to explore. So glad we did!

We had a very fresh lunch, in fact I think they actually killed a chicken for us, at a tiny little restaurant inside someone's home. It was delish, and I loved experiencing the local hospitality as opposed to a large restaurant brimming with tourists.

After lunch we set off to explore further, and what did we find? More temples of course.

Pura Hulundanu Batur 

Pura Tirta Hulandanu

This temple is across from the last temple and located directly on the lake with spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and everyday village life. Go for the views!

Tegallanglang Rice Terrace

After our tour of the volcano we had to make a stop at one of the rice paddies for the quintessential Bali shot. This is regular stop with tours and drivers that people can take pictures, so it's quite built up with little tourist shops and such. unfortunately when we were there they had just harvested so it wasn't as pretty as we hoped. I would recommend instead doing a rice paddy walking tour or trek instead of going here if you want to immerse yourself into nature and get some more natural shots of Bali's raw beauty.

Monkey Forest

On the next couple days we stayed pretty local to Ubud. We paid a visit to the Monkey Forest in central Ubud. I know it may not be everyone's cup of tea, thought this was a fun experience.  I kind of like having wild animals running around. The monkeys were fun and playful, and I really enjoyed the scenery of the monkey forest. There are statues amongst the jungle foliage walkways along some winding rivers to explore.

I even made a new little friend.

No not him!

Ubud Center

After the Monkey forest we enjoyed walking around the center part of Ubud which is super close by. There are tons of adorable cafes to relax and have a coffee or a coconut while enjoying views over rice paddies, and lots of shops to poke around in for souvenirs and artwork. Ubud and the areas surrounding are a fantastic place to purchase art. There are all types of art, but one of Bali's specialties is carved wood and stone sculpture. You'll notice this as you're wandering around, so many of the buildings and especially the temples are covered in intricate carvings. This is one of the things that makes Bali so special.

Traditional Dance

I the evening, saw a Balinese dance at another amazing temple, Ubud Palace. I would definitely recommend this for culture lovers. Tickets can be arranged through your hotel or purchased at the palace before the show.

Rice Paddy Trekking

On another day in Ubud and then we managed to squeeze in a trek. We hired a local to take us on a walk through the rice paddies. We were led though endless lush vegetation and farmlands in the areas surrounding the areas surrounding Ubud.  The most interesting part of this trip was that we were given a tour of a typical Balinese home. Meaning that we were actually welcomed into someones how to see how locals live. 

I really couldn't get enough of the rice paddies, so I was really happy that we chose to stay a full 5 days in Ubud. This was of course helped by the fact that our our Hotel Puri Wulandari, was so exceptional. 

If you travel to Ubud I recommend giving it a minimum of 3 nights and up to a week or even more because it's such a great jumping off point for doing day tours around the island and visiting many of the spectacular sights and activities Bali has to experience.

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