It was time to move on from the Nusa Islands, we had plans to go to Lombok and the famous Gili Islands from there, but first we would go back to Bali by public ferry and go to Ubud. Ubud is famous for being used as a setting in the book and subsequent film; Eat, Pray, Love.
We set off from Nusa Penida early morning, rode the bike down to the harbour and the owner of the bungalows came with us again to carry our bags and bring the bike back afterwards. The local boat was a big ferry and would only take an hour to get to Padangbai in Bali, we were on our way.
We got chatting to some locals and the boat was good, decent seats on an outside covered deck area, and it did only take an hour to get there. Plus an extra two and a half hours sat on the boat just outside the port waiting to dock up in a queue of other ferries.
We did the usual haggling with taxi drivers, then arrived in Ubud to a very nice place to stay, it is only four rooms, it looks nice enough to be a hotel but is just a small family run place, so has the feeling of a home-stay, it was a very nice place to be, so we decided we’d stay around for a few days.
Ubud is, for want of a better turn of phrase, a little bit of a hippy-haven, that’s not to say it is a bad thing, it’s all smoothie-bowls, super-foods and yoga. Great if that’s your kind of thing. It is also the place to be if you want unrelenting busy-ness and traffic noise constantly, but I doubt that’s the main reason many people go.
It is also the main gateway to the north of Bali, a place very different from the south, the climate is cooler, the scenery different, it is rice terraces, coffee plantations and active volcanoes. We took a bike on one of the days and rode straight north, to the Tegalalang rice terraces, arriving early morning for a stroll through the terraces and enjoying a coffee with a view before all the other tourists turned up.
Unfortunately the day before this one it had rained, a lot, and Stac had assured herself that flip-flops would be fine for wet, muddy, walking trails. As we all would guess, they weren’t fine, and we had to turn back pretty soon after we started the walk because it was too wet and slippery. We still enjoyed a nice coffee looking over the terraces though, then set off further north towards Mount Batur.
Mount Batur is Bali’s second highest mountain / active volcano, about 1,700m high with a huge volcanic lake to the east, the town to the south of it is a great place to stop for a view and see the area, so we pulled up there and grabbed a fruit shake whilst we took some pictures, stunning landscape as you can see.
On the way back, we stopped at one of the Luwak coffee plantations, you may have heard of this coffee as the most expensive in the world, whereby the small Luwak eats the coffee bean and part digests it before the bean is then roasted and used for coffee, the theory being that the wild Luwaks know the best beans so it is therefore the best coffee.
In reality this is now done here on farms, not in the wild, whereby Luwaks are just given the beans to eat, and some lucky employee gets to make coffee from the subsequent Luwak excrement, what a job.
We sat in the plantation with a great view of the forests, tasting flavoured teas and coffees and had a cup of the Luwak coffee, it was actually very tasty and smooth, so we bought a bag of it to take away.
Whilst there was hundreds of restaurants to choose from in Ubud, they are mainly health-food or international restaurants, but we were there for the local food. We found a couple of little gems for good local food, but the highlight came from the family who owned the place we stayed.
The mum of the family cooked an amazing Nasi Campur (mixed rice dish) with all the trimmings, we had it for dinner three times whilst we were there, we became known as Mr & Mrs Nasi Campur by the end of it. Fried chicken in sweet satay sauce, fried noodles, vegetables, rice, tempeh, tofu, prawn cracker, spicy sambal, the dish dreams are made of 🙂
We had a nice chilled out time in Ubud, fortunately we stayed a little out of the centre so the traffic noise wasn’t an issue for us, but I can’t quite describe just how busy the centre of that small town can be during the day, constant traffic jams.
There is a monkey forest in Ubud, which is a religious temple grounds where monkeys live in the wild and get fed by park keepers daily, they weren’t penned in like in a zoo, but free to roam around, and free to take things from tourists who werent paying attention. It was clearly advised not to wear sunglasses or carry food, but people don’t listen and it’s quite hilarious to see the monkeys take things then have to be bribed to give them back.
Another of the things to do in Ubud is go for traditional Balinese massage, Stac went for a four-hour spa treatment package which lasted nearly five hours, had four different spa treatments and cost less than £40. She loved it, I loved the peace and quiet 🙂
Now it was time to go to Lombok, another big island across about 60 miles of open ocean from Bali, there are fast boats that can do this trip in an hour and a half, but we decided we’d do the big public ferry with the locals instead. More to come on that…
Now, on to more important matters… Whilst we were in Ubud, a very special thing happened; our ‘Niece’, baby Amber Goddard was born, we definitely celebrated her birth and can’t wait to meet her. Congratulations Col and Char on the birth of your beautiful baby girl.