Bali was on my bucket list since I can remember and one September I decided I would spend my birthday week there and off I went. All very last minute but I figured if I book to stay somewhere pretty central I could figure out a nice itinerary.
I stayed at the Puri Sunia Resort http://www.purisuniaresort.com/ in the suburbs of Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali. This was more suited to me than a beach resort as I prefer to discover historical cultural places. The resort was around a 15 minute drive from the centre and offered free shuttle bus. They recommended an amazing spa which I booked into for an 6 hour full spa day which included massage, aromatic bath with rose petals, body, hair and face mask, mani-pedi and foot massage. By the end of the day I was beginning to feel like I was on a honey moon.
I began day 2 with a sunrise yoga session offered by the resort, followed with a walk in the village, also organized by the resort. Our guide, Julie explained how the locals lived and survived and that tourism was their main source of income. So, at the end of the tour Julie offered to be my paid guide for the rest of the day and that she had her own transportation. Great I said! We went back to the resort for breakfast and once I was done, Julie was already at the entrance waiting for me and we walked to her transport. To my horror it turned out to be a bike. Don’t worry, this is how all the tourists get around in Bali she told me.
It was an interesting time spent with Julie and I got to see Ubud from the eyes of a local. Julie took me to the rice paddy fields and to buy some unique coffee only manufactured in Bali; Luwak poo coffee! It is produced using coffee beans that have been pooed out by the Luwak. I had heard about this coffee but did not realise the Luwaks were kept locked in cages, I had thought they roam around freely and happily. I decided I not to buy this time.
During the ride back to the resort we passed by a long street of wholesale shops selling all types of handmade items. One of the shops caught my eye and I saw some colorful placemats I wanted to buy. I called Julie in the help me negotiate as she was a local. However, I was given the guilt trip about how the money earned from the sale would help buy rice for the shopkeepers family.
The next day I took the shuttle bus into central Ubud and discovered the local market where I discovered a delicious fruit called mangosteen. Once peeled the fruit inside kind of looked like a brain with the blood drained out. However, it tasted amazing, but as I had the image in my mind I could not bring myself to eat any more of those.
I then walked to the Monkey Forest and spent some time feeding monkeys bananas, trying to get a selfie blowing a kiss at a money and just taking in the fun of being around monkeys enjoying themselves and living peacefully and happily in their sanctuary.
After the monkey business I was ready to head back to the resort to relax. I decided to book a taxi for the next day to take me around the temples. I came across a sign that read “cheap taxi, I swear I’m cheap” when he told me the price for a day tour I thought blimey, that really is cheap. I turned around and was faced with another sign “Fair taxi, I swear I’m fair”, and sure enough when he told me the price – that’s fair I thought. So here I was having to decide between a cheap or fair taxi.
The next day I did the tour of the temples, there were so many and I’m sure I burned two days worth of excess calories. Amongst my favourite was the Pura Tirta Empul, a Hindu Balinese temple with a ritual bathing area, containing by the Hindus to be holy spring water. I sat here an people watched as the tourists lined up to get wet in the pool.
My final day in Bali I decided to try something a little adventurous and went for hike/mountain climb to see the sunrise at the top of Mount Batur and in the afternoon I headed for some wild rafting.