Day 84: Getting to know the culture of Bali

Trip Start Jan 02, 2010
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84
85
Trip End Mar 28, 2010


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Saturday, March 27, 2010

--Some farewells--

Today was my last full day on my trip. In some ways, I'm quite sad such an adventure has come to an end, but in others I am looking forward to heading home and seeing my friends and family. As promised to myself, I was off to explore the best of Bali today. Michel arranged for him, Mark & me to have a look around Ubud and the surrounding areas. He was able to get a great rate from the Island reception, as their driver would be able to take all three of us around in his car.

Before setting off, I headed out to say a few goodbyes as I was unlikely to catch some people I’ve met again. First on the list was Fenny & Hendra from the Gracia Tailor shop down the gang way. It’s been a great pleasure to have met such a happy and friendly local family and I’ve got to know them pretty well over the few days I’ve been around. Fenny always stops to say hello and have a chat every time I walk past. Little Gracia was up and as cheerful and inquisitive as ever. I’ll certainly miss them when I go. I then headed down to the beach to say farewell to Ahgga, my surf instructor. Ahgga has been a great teacher and a good laugh and I’d certainly recommend him to anyone.

I then headed back to the Island. I was joined Mark and Michel for breakfast and we then headed out with our driver.


--A look around Bali--

We drove for an hour up towards the centre of the island, to a lovely town called Ubud. The town is surrounded by lush paddy fields and is best known to tourists for its crafts and a cultural centre. We first stopped at the sacred nature reserve. The small reserve is home to hundreds of monkeys. These creatures certainly aren’t shy and many will want to come and snatch anything they particularly like the look of (be warned!). Mark was quick to lose his insect repellent spray and many kids on a school trip lost their biscuits (to the sound of loud screams!). It’s a great little area to go and explore and watch the monkeys run around and be mischievous (fights did break out regularly!).

We then explored the Ubad palace. This is a wonderful stone palace in the centre of town with such interesting carvings and decorations. We were allowed to see off-limit areas for a small fee, which is where many of the luxurious quarters were based.

We ended our look around Ubud in the amazing crafts market. The market is vast and crammed full of wonderfully decorated stalls over two floors and a central courtyard. Ubud certainly has the best choice of crafts in Bali and you can find some real gems to take home with you in the markets and shops nearby. Many female stall owners were going to make offerings to a religious shrine just outside the market, a practise you see commonly throughout Bali. Michel joined in, buying some offerings from a local stall owner (in exchange for a photo as well).

After Ubud, we headed further north to a town called Tegallalang, which is best known for its astonishing views onto the rice terraces. This is a sight worth catching if you ever come to Bali and it matches the impressive terraced fields I saw in Sapa, Vietnam. After spending some time here and taking in the stunning view, we headed further north and stopped for a buffet lunch at a roadside restaurant that provided an incredible view of Mount Batur. We were so far north now, in the mountainous regions, that the afternoon rain clouds were gathering. They tell me that it’s like clockwork here and rains nearly every day. I’ve been completely oblivious to the climate up here whilst staying in Kuta/Legian, where I’ve struggled to even spot a cloud during my week here.

On our way back down to theIisland, we stopped at a local coffee plantation and sat out enjoying some locally grown coffee. Not being a massive coffee drinker, I was a fan of what they had to offer! (so much so that I brought some back with me). Our final stop was a quiet town of Tampaksiring. Here there is the beautiful Hindu temple of Gunang Kwai which hides so elegantly beyond the lush paddy fields. You have to walk down a stone step path to reach it. The temple has some impressive stone carvings into the nearby cliff faces and has the same mystical architecture that you become accustomed to in Bali. Not many people come to see this sight and we didn’t see many other tourists around. This is a real hidden treasure.

We then headed back towards Legian as we got late into the afternoon. Today has shown that Bali really has so much to offer beyond than its stereotypical beach/surf/party that some have come to associate with it. The island is so vibrant and full of culture and I’m glad I got a good glimpse of that today.


--Evening--

As we arrived back at the hostel, we were greeted with a new arrival in our dorm- Lou, a teacher from Singapore. She joined us all for dinner that night. We all went back to the delicious Italian joint we went to a couple days earlier. That night, we then all headed out one final time as a group to Sky Garden, with some of the Island staff also joining us. It was a great way to spend my last night of such an amazing trip!
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