Monkeys, Meditation & Mee Goreng
Trip Start Apr 09, 2010
5Trip End May 25, 2010
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We land in Bali and are eagerly awaited by our friend, Wayan Widana who Tara met 2 years ago in her trips through Bali. Wayan brought his daughter with him and she is beaming with energy and curiosity. It always feels nice to have our names written on a piece of paper and to be greeted by someone when arriving to a new and unknown land. We head directly to Ubud, which is referred to as the "cultural epicenter" of Bali and is a good 45 minute away from the heavily tourist ridden Kuta Beach.
Ubud – Cultural Epicenter of Bali
Upon arrival to Ubud, we get to have a late dinner with Wayan and his daughter at 3 Monkey's, where Wayan works during his daytime job and the meal is nothing more than perfect after a long day of travel from Borneo, to Singapore and finally to Bali
The next morning starts with a tour of the main strip of Ubud where the streets are lined with craft stores, internet cafes, and plenty of traditional Balinese style inns and hotels. We make our way down to the Monkey Forest Road where tourists enter a natural habitat of the Macaque monkeys and if you’ve heard about this before, these particular type of monkeys are rather aggressive, greedy and very intelligent. We take nothing but 2 bottles of water into this Monkey Forest and manage to barely leave the place with 1 bottle and a near fight with these fierce mammals. There must be over 500 monkeys playing around the relatively small forest/park. It is a one of a kind experience where, especially with any type of food, you will have a swarm of monkeys jumping right onto your lap, shoulders or chasing you for your last banana you’re holding onto.
After lunch, we meet our man Wayan and are scooted off to the Coffee and Spice plantation where the 'infamous’ Kopi Lewak coffee is produced. This particular type of coffee really took off after the movie “The Bucket List” where Jack Nicholson mentions that it is THE most expensive coffee in the world. The reason it is so expensive is due to its very unique production method. During the night, the Lewak (an animal that resembles a mongoose or a large ferret) climbs up the coffee trees and eats only the best coffee berries
We get to taste 4-5 types of coffee made at this plantation along with a half dozen varieties of freshly grown fruit they also harvest with the coffee beans they so famously roast here. The tour is complete after a few key purchases of Lewak beans which go for $25 dollars per 100g; sorry everyone - not many of you will get these as souvenirs and if you do, please appreciate how much work goes into each of the beans before they are actually finally made into consumable coffee for us! J
On our last day in Ubud we take on a 5 hour traditional Balinese cooking course, complete with tour of the local market to learn about the fresh spices, vegetables and culture of Balinese cuisine. We were VERY satisfied and overfed after the 5 hour marathon of the feast during our cooking course.
Orchid Villa – Heaven in Bali
We had signed up for a 4 day, 3 night ‘retreat’ as we both felt we needed to ‘slow down’ our lives and literally meditate on what was most important to us for our future. We arrive to Orchid Villa where immediately we are engulfed into an oasis where the jungle surrounds the pristine villas
Next we trek 3.5 hours to the east, driving through perfectly groomed rice terraces and old fortress towns to arrive to Amed, which is where the best snorkeling and diving is found on the island of Bali. This part of Bali certainly functions at a MUCH slower pace as the sparsely placed hotels are all very private and quiet. We split our time between lounging on the beach, having a few massages (of course) and plain old relaxing around the hotel
Nearing the end of our stay in Bali, we treated ourselves to a night at the Westin Resort in Nusa Dua, the southern part of the island that is home to all the big hotel chains. The hotel was located along the gorgeous strip of white sand beach, and we enjoyed our first real afternoon of sun tanning since we’d been in Bali…about time we got some colour as Tara’s white legs were starting to blind the locals!
On our last night in Bali we headed to the touristic epicenter of Bali - Kuta beach. This is the busiest spot on the island and the place that originally made Bali famous back in the day when Australians started flocking here. It’s still one of the most popular vacation spots for Australians…many of whom come for a visit and never leave! The streets of Kuta were pretty chaotic, lined with aggressive massage vendors, cheesy tourist shops and motorcycles zipping around. The beach here was surprisingly filled with locals, we were told because it was a Sunday, and people come from all around Bali to enjoy the best beach on the island with their families.
So, after a fantastic and varied 10 days of life in Bali, we depart with great experiences and high hopes that this is not our last time to visit this beautiful island.