Bali Safari Park, Monkey Forest, Uluwatu Kecak

Trip Start May 20, 2010
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Trip End May 24, 2010


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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our final destination in Indonesia was Bali. We got off the minibus at Pasar Badung of Denpasar at 6 in the morning. We were supposed to arrive at five, so we were "lucky". That's because we had booked a pick-up service in front of Pasar Badung for 8:30 and had not known what to do in such an early morning. Pasar Badung is the liveliest market in Denpasar and it was introduced in the Globe Trotter Travel Guide (Chikyu-no-Arukikata) with the rating of 2 stars (out of 3). According to the guide, the point seemed taking a peek at Balinese life, but I could not get what was so interesting right in the market. Anyway we killed some time just hanging around and sitting on the bench in front of a cafe with some local kids interested in us.

We had booked a pick-up service of "Daisuki Bali", a Japanese speaking guide & tour company, and they picked us up at Hong Kong Restaurant at 8:30. Then we headed for Bali Safari & Marine Park. It was supposed to be the main destination of the day, because that was my first time to try a safari park. The first thing at which I was amazed was that all the receptionists were beautiful.... Well..., the first display was tropical fish....a bit boring. The second display was a puma, which was difficult to find.... The third was the Balinese Dance Experience, although we didn't even try it.... We didn't care about them, because the main attraction was Safari Journey and if it was fine, everything was alright. So we tried the attraction next. While we were waiting in line for the safari vehicle, a park staff member came up to us to sell a bottle of orange juice. We didn't care about the price so much at that time and bought one ....for stunning Rp.16,500 (roughly 1.8 USD)! It was a Japanese product and we could buy exactly the same one for 1.6 USD in Japan.... Everything was terribly expensive in the park, including $35 admission fee (the cheapest Jungle Hopper ticket). Anyway we just hoped the safari journey was also stunning, but... to be honest, it was far below our expectation. Animals were just eating at the troughs near the trail of the bus.... My mom told me that Singapore Safari Park was much better than that. After that, we tried to enjoy the small creature show on the Hanoman stage. There were a lot of little creatures showing up on the stage, but only a part of them showed us a trick and the whole show lasted only 15 minutes. Then we watched the Elephant Bathing nearby, which was supposed to be one of the shows they offered, but it looked like a feeding time for the elephants in the pool. We started getting tired of the boring park. However, I don't say all the attractions of the park were boring. Honestly, the elephant show was awesome, although it was a only must-see in the park. I was really surprised at the smart elephants. I also enjoyed the Animal Encounter in which I was able to have a picture taken with a baby tiger and a orangutan.That was a great experience. (The cost for a picture with an animal was "Rp.50,000 (roughly US$5) ", but the package tickets included the cost.) 

Bali Safari & Marine Park Official Website 
http://www.balisafarimarinepark.com/BaliSafariFrontPage.php
Judging from the website, the park looks fun...
 
We left the park for Ubud at 1:30. The first destination of Ubud was the rice terraces of Tegallalang. I thought Ubud was not far from the safari park, but it took a long time to get there, because the roads were so narrow and it was difficult to drive fast. Anyway, Tegallalang was a bad choice, or maybe the worst choice. We had lunch in a small restaurant located on the hillside with a view, but comparing with the other great sites we visited in Indonesia, the rice terrace was nothing. In addition, it was not a right season for the view. There were full of Japanese tourists in the restaurant and I thought the rice terrace were popular only among Japanese.  

Next, we visited Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary. I liked this forest very much, although we didn't have time enough to explore around the forest, but we barely reached fascinating Temple of the Dead. Monkeys and banyan trees made the forest mysterious and I loved its atmosphere. The monkeys were very meek, although I had heard that some of them tried to snatch tourist's belongings. Touching and feeding were prohibited by our guide. because they bite us sometimes, although they looked docile. Anyway, we had to rush the sightseeing there and left for Candi Uluwatu, because we had a plan to see a sunset and to watch Kecak Dance beginning at 18:00. Unfortunately, we hit a traffic jam many times on our way, because the day happened to be an All Soul's Day of Bali, so we took a detour several times. Our driver made his best to make it to the sunset and dance show and I really appreciated it.

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary Official Website
http://www.monkeyforestubud.com/
It includes a photo gallery. 
 
Unfortunately, Uluwatu was just a temple on a cliff seen in the distance, because it was cloudy on the day and we couldn't see the sundown. However, the other purpose to visit the temple was Kecak Dance. When we arrived at Uluwatu, it was 10 past 6 and the dance show had just begun. So we dashed to the venue, watching out for naughty monkeys around there. The guide told me not to let go of my glasses. Although the venue was full of audience, the staff found room for us to sit. The dance was mixed with a drama of Ramayana story. To put it exactly, the drama was the main of their performance. (We understood the story, thanks to an interpretation leaflet given at the ticket office.) It was quite touristy, but all the audience seemed to enjoy it and they made a picture time for the audience at the end.

Kecak Dance - Balinese Culture Show
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqke2IrdZxQ&feature=related
As for dances, videos are more tangible than photos. Check out this one.
 
Our final destination was Angsa Putih, a Legong dance restaurant. It was a spacious restaurant with a stage and a music band obviously for rich tourists. We watched the dance performance, eating Indonesian cuisine. I thought it was not a bad choice, but there were not many guests and all the other guests looked Japanese. The cover charge was hefty 10%. On our way to the airport, we dropped by a souvenir shop, led by the Daisuki Bali guide. Honestly, it was a kind of scam. Although the goods were not as cheap as the guide said, I bought two chocolate and tea boxes respectively. After I came back home and opened one of the chocolate boxes, I found out the box was too big for their content. It was the same with the tea boxes. The box contained "only one tea bag" wrapped by paper. Because we trusted the Daisuki Bari, we were very disappointed at the scam. As the last destination, the guide recommended a beauty salon for us, but it was out of the question, because we didn't visit Bali to pamper ourselves.

All in all, Bali was much more touristy, boring, and expensive than Java. It is not too much to say that you can't see anything top-rated of Indonesia in Bali but its tourist population. I don't know why Bali is one of the most popular destinations among Japanese tourists. I heard that the number of the Japanese tourists in Bali was declining and I believe it should be.  

Bali Travel Doc Series 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XcYDomEWD0
The video is divided into 5 parts. It is not a simple introduction of Bali, but details varing from Balinese life, religion, arts, and so on. 
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