I always thought Bali was the quintessential tropical island getaway. I had visions of lounging underneath billowing canopies and a perfectly blue sky looking out over a powder fine sand beach towards a clear turquoise sea. Turns out Bali is not quite like this. The sky was a mix of blue and stormy during our visit. The beach was a little less fine and a little bit more littered. The ocean might be turquoise if you venture past some of the muck. And I’m sure you could find a place to lounge under a billowing canopy but it will cost you. This is sounding like a negative review of Bali but it isn’t really. Bali is just different from what I had expected.
We stayed in two parts of Bali so that we could get different experiences since it was our first visit. We started out in the laid back town of Ubud which many consider to be Bali’s cultural heart. It’s in the interior of the island but from there any of the coast is within a day trip away. If we were to return to Bali, this is where we would base ourselves. Here are some scenes from around Ubud:
Bali is the Hindu enclave in Muslim Indonesia
This is a small hotel in Ubud. Very typical look for private homes, small hotels or homestays in the town.
An example of ornate Balinese decorations found on buildings.
An elaborate entrance in a temple but this kind of intricate decoration is also found on private residences.
Offerings like these can be found daily on most sidewalks, doorsteps, shrines, etc.
Balinese women carry things on their head. Even heavy construction material that require others to assist you in getting it on your head.
Statues like these are found all over Bali.
When in Ubud, the must visit destination is Monkey Forest, where there are so many monkeys you’ll literally trip over them. These monkeys are the naughtiest we have seen in all of Asia. We got clued in we were close to Monkey Forest when a monkey came running down the street (crossing traffic no less!) to snatch the bag of chips out of Dominic’s hands. By the time we realized what was happening, that little cheeky monkey was already back across the street and ripping through the bag.
This monkey was actually outside the forest waiting for unsuspecting visitors.
Just another day in Ubud.
Yep that baby has his mama’s teat in his mouth.
If you didn’t care for monkeys, Monkey Forest is lovely just for a stroll.
Pretty spaces in Monkey Forest
Hoping Marc had something for him in his hand
To recover from Monkey Forest, we took a nice peaceful bike ride around the Bali countryside. Take a look:
During the bike ride we stopped to talk to a couple harvesting cocoa beans. Yep, this is the start of heavenly chocolate.
We passed pretty villages like this one.
And farmers tending to their crops.
We stopped to chat with these woman who had gathered to make preparations for a community celebration in three days time. The whole community comes together for the preparations.
The most expensive coffee in the world comes out of this sad creature’s bum. Yep, we stopped for refreshments at a coffee plantation where the specialty is Luwak coffee or otherwise known as civet poop coffee.
After the beans have been “processed” by the civet, it gets hand roasted (likely by little old ladies like this one).
A complimentary flight of coffee and tea. This does not include the Luwak coffee. A cup sets you back $5 which is enough for a meal at a restaurant in Bali.
After the bike ride, we went for a stroll in the countryside.
And crossed rivers with only a soft plastic pipe as a bridge.
We completed our Balinese experience by watching a Kecak performance (dance and music drama) and fire dance. The Kecak performance involves over 100 men sitting in a circle creating music by rhythmically chanting while the main dancers performs the story of Ramayana.
The setting for the performance.
The Kecak performance
The fire dance where the dancer kicks and dances through hot embers.
But no matter how we spent our time in Ubud, we always took time out in the afternoon to refresh. For $50 a night, we got a huge room with breakfast and this lovely pool.
Just lovely and peaceful.
Until these guys get in. The boy got so good at jumping and swimming that he has now given up his swim bubble and free swimming. Yay!
Since we stayed in an interior location, we decided on the beach town of Sanur for our other location. From everything I read, it was slower pace than the main beach town of Kuta and had a nice beach good for families with young children. Sadly, it was unimpressive. During our three days, we went to the beach once and then spent the rest of our time hanging out by the very nice pool at our hotel. Nevertheless, here are a few photos from our stay in Sanur.
Just an ok beach.
Colourful Balinese boats
The pretty pool at our hotel.
We did manage to visit a tiny sea turtle conservation (tiny = 4 tanks on the beach) and saw these adorable baby sea turtles.
And a few gorgeous adult sea turtles like this one.