Exploring Balinese Mountains, Markets and Rice Paddies

Indonesia is an impressive country. Its 17,000 islands span across two continents and are home to several religions, the most dominating one being Islam. With 260 million people it is the 4th most populated country but you’ll find more than half on the island of Java which is the world’s most populated island. Some pretty impressive numbers if you ask me!
As usual, our arrival into a new place starts with drama and taxi drivers trying to charge excessive amounts. We were being quoted 250,000 rupiah by the airport but uber said 55,000. After the uber texted asking us to pay double and never turned up, we reported him to uber and settled for a normal taxi. After arriving at our capsule hostel in Seminyak an hour and a half later than planned, we missed the last orders for dinner and wandered out until we found an amazing pizza place called Roma Pizza and we went to bed very tired but very satisfied and happy to have eaten something other than rice. The beds were so comfy and it’s the first time in 4 months that we’ve had 2 pillows!
The next morning we woke up with one thing on our minds: food. TripAdvisor recommended Sisterfields for brunch which was fairly close to our hostel and we made friends with the couple next to us as all four of us were drooling over each other’s food it looked so amazing!

We took a slow walk to the beach whilst wandering in and out of shops. A kilometre and a half up the beach was one of the places we were excited about visiting: Potato Head Beach Club. Sadly the weather wasn’t the best but it meant that we could get somewhere to sit down! We enjoyed one cocktail sat on some chairs and then enjoyed another sat in the pool! I can’t remember the name of the second cocktail I had but it was served in a coconut with a shot sized cup in the middle for red colouring and dry ice so it looked like a volcano which was really cool! We spent some time chatting with two South African guys (such a beautiful accent) and it’s feeling very weird now telling people we’ve visited ten countries and that we’re on the home straight!

I know I talk about food a lot but I need to say that we had the most beautiful dinner. I had pie and mash and Ammun had sausage and mash. We sat in silence while we enjoyed the most beautiful creamy mash potato. We love mash. A lot.
Back at the hostel we joined in the drinking and started talking to a group of girls who were all from Canada except one American. After a few bintang beers, Victoria, Emily, Morgan, Sarah, Theresa, Ammun and I all marched down the street to La Favela which is a club decorated with quirky antique things. The 7 of us boogied the night away and my particular highlight was the Chinese family who looked like they had gone for a fancy meal and ended up in the club. The two daughters looked a bit awkward but mum and dad were having a great time!

After another fabulous brunch the next day we were picked up at midday for a day trip to Uluwatu just south of Seminyak.  The first stop on our tour (that we planned ourselves) was Green Bowl Beach. Please all be in awe of how beautiful it is:

For lunch we fancied El Kabron beach club but it turns out it’s very, very fancy and was all booked up so our driver recommended Blue Heaven beach club. It had an infinity pool overlooking Padang Padang Beach where the film Eat, Pray, Love was filmed. We had a swim, watched the surfers ride the waves and ate some lunch. We also spent a lot of time watching more Asians go photoshoot crazy by the pool…

Our final stop was Uluwatu Temple. The temple is on the edge of a cliff so it has spectacular views of the sea and sunset. Although we’re super bored of temples we made an exception for this one for two reasons: it’s covered in monkeys and there is a special Kecak Dance performance at sunset. Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of at least 70 performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting “cak” and moving their hands and arms, depicts a battle. The monkey-like Vanara led by Hanuman helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana to save the beautiful princess.

That night we attempted to go to sleep as early as possible but when our alarms went off at 1am, neither of us had managed to sleep! We were picked up along with two other guys and driven 2 hours North to Mount Batur for a sunrise hike! The four of us plus our guide started the day with banana pancakes and tea and then began the 2 hour uphill climb. It was completely pitch black so we had been given torches and they came in VERY useful as it was not a man made trail like when we did the Inca Trail, it was rocky and covered in silt from previous eruptions. About 5:30am we make it to the top and find a bench with a perfect view of the sunrise. Everyone at the top was very quiet and we all sat for half an hour to enjoy it.

Whilst we were sat, our guide made us a second breakfast of banana sandwiches and boiled eggs. He then walked us around the top and told us some things about the volcano and its surroundings. It has three peaks and is currently still active. The last big eruption was in 2000 and you can still see where the lava had flowed. Luckily no one was injured. After getting our pictures with the sign saying we were 1,717m above sea level, we began our descent down.
It took us 3 hours to get down as the loose earth made it very difficult and there were a lot of human traffic jams. Our guide was so good and always knew where the hardest parts were and he would make sure he was there with his hand out to help us. We got back to the van about 9:45am, very sweaty and very tired. I stayed awake until 10am as that was what time I woke up the day before. When else am I going to say that I stayed up for 24 hours solid and climbed a volcano?!

The rest of the day was a bit of a write off. We had a nap in the car and then a nap back in our capsules (which did I mention has TWO pillows?!) and felt much better. The rest of the day consisted of Indonesian lunch of nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables and a fried egg), watching a film in the chill area of our hostel and then back to the same Italian restaurant for dinner. I slept very well that night!

The next day was also a bit of a write off. We slept most of the morning and then over breakfast we met two guys in our hostel who were also heading to Ubud the same day so we planned on sharing a taxi. Our journey was delayed a fair bit as we had exactly the same problem with uber again. Apparently local taxi drivers are known for beating up uber drivers and grab taxi drivers as they’re so against the money going out of the country. It’s difficult for us when, morally, we should be helping the local economy but I also want to help my own finances and uber is so much cheaper! Late afternoon we arrived at Puji Bungalows which w

as recommended to us by Ammun’s brother (thanks Gul!), ate a small dinner and slept some more. I think Batur destroyed us more than we anticipated!
Ubud is beautiful. When you think of the spiritual side of Bali and people doing yoga and eating lots of healthy fruit, this is the place. We began the day with a super healthy breakfast of fruit, granola and yoghurt and then went for a long walk… around the local market. We knew this was the last place to really get any souvenirs so our eyes feasted upon the bags and candles and clothes and pineapple things and more! We shopped til we dropped and then collapsed into our chairs at a nearby restaurant, ready for food (probably more rice).
In the afternoon we went for a stroll through some nearby rice fields. It’s amazing to see how much care is needed to make one of the most mass produced foods on the planet.

To recover from our strenuous day, we relaxed at our pool and I finally got to use my doughnut inflatable that I bought in Phuket a month and a half ago! The only downside was that I left it a little bit too long before I used my mosquito repellent and over the next few hours about THIRTY bites appeared on my body including an impressive 9 on my hip and 3 on my face!

In the evening we ate at Borneo 8 which was another one of Ammun’s brother’s recommendations. It was nice but I wouldn’t call a dish a seafood dish if it only has three prawns. We then walked towards a bar that we had read about online and got excited for some salsa dancing however when we got there, all we could find was a hollow building. All plans for a drink slowly went down the drain when we found a frozen yoghurt cafe and we couldn’t help ourselves. So much for a healthy Bali…

The next day was one of my favourite days on the island. Any day that begins with rolling out of bed to our pool is a good day to me. We ate breakfast and dinner here and everyone was very jealous when I turned up with takeaway pizzas from down the road!

Once the hottest part of the day had passed, we went to one of Ubud’s top tourist attractions: the monkey forest! The monkeys roam free and even sit outside the entrance in the road if they want to. There are staff members around incase there are any issues with the monkeys and a few ladies selling bananas for people to give to them. We didn’t give them any food but watched as they ate the food that they are given 3 times a day.

After a little bit more shopping and a little bit to eat, we went for a Balinese massage. All I knew about Balinese massages beforehand was that they massage everything. Boobs included. Sadly/luckily for us, our boobs were left unmassaged. I don’t feel like I had the full Balinese experience but I guess I saved myself quite a bit of awkwardness!

On our last full day we woke up earlier than normal, got a good breakfast in us at Cafe Luna and then walked to the Yoga Barn for a gentle yoga class. (The class was actually called gentle yoga – we didn’t think we were ready for anything more than that!) The location was beautiful and I can see the appeal of a yoga retreat! We walked away feeling stretched, energised but still sure that yoga isn’t for us.

In the afternoon we got a taxi to see one of the biggest rice paddies in Bali: Tegalalang Rice Paddy. On the way the driver told us a lot about family life in Indonesia but the only thing I was more impressed by than the fact he lives with 29 members of his family was the views we got of the rice paddies!! It was green as far as we could see and we enjoyed climbing up and down each side to see all angles.

In the evening we did some more frantic last minute shopping which ended up with us running off in different directions whilst everyone packed up around us. Despite power walking down three long streets, I am now the proud owner of a new summer handbag in the size I wanted!
For dinner we went back to Cafe Luna for the second time in one day for dinner and cocktails. I feel like we’ve had a very busy week and a half so far in Indonesia so I’m ready for a week relaxing in the Gili Islands with sea salt in my hair and sand between my toes…

Annalise x