There was no rest for us, we had a list as long as our arm of places we wanted to visit whilst we were in Bali so we hopped right to it.
We booked a private driver and a tour guide, Widi, to take up to the east of the island. They picked us up 7.30am sharpish and our first stop was a traditional Balinese show set in the morning heat.
After watching the dancers twirl and shake across the stage, and sitting wondering how some of the actors could cope being enclosed in the most lavish and embellished costumes in the thick of the morning heat, we headed to a family run wood carving business which resembled an Aladdin’s cave full of treasures.
We decided to purchase a small but quaint Buddha statue made from maple which now takes pride of place on the shelves adorning our living room walls. The Buddha’s thumb and the index finger touch to form a circle which symbolises the constant flow of energy and resembles the Law of Buddha which is eternal and perfect. It drew us in!
With our wallets a little lighter the next stop was Tirta Empul, a beautiful temple set around a bubbling spring that the locals call ‘the holy spring’ and devote their time purifying themselves in the cool and refreshing pools.
Widi made sure we were correctly covered up with sarees, as a matter of respect to the gods and to those at the temple praying that day.
Our next stop-off was coffee and tea tasting… yum!
We slurped and sipped our way through traditional Balinese coffee and cocoa, and flavoured fruit and spiced teas (the lemongrass tea and ginger tea were both firm favourites so we purchased some of these to bring home with us… it would have been rude not to).
We were sat amongst the rain forest and we got our first peek of the famous Bali rice terraces, a taste of spectacular things to come that day.
Before we left we also got to try some local fruits, Tamarillo was our favourite; a bright red/purple flesh which tasted a little like a tomato. Widi also tried to encourage us to eat a Durian fruit, which we politely declined (we’d been warned about these previously). This spiky exterior fruit can be deceiving as it’ll leave you with the smelliest, most grotesque breath known to man!
Carrying on the journey, winding and weaving further up and up, we reached our furthest easterly destination. Mount Batur is an active volcano located at the centre of two calderas and rises up from lake Batura, it was truly beautiful.
We stopped at Mount Batur to get some much needed fuel, lunch was a traditional Bali banquet of rice, noodles and lots of curried fish and meats. After lunch we headed back south to finally stop off at the rice terraces, this was the first activity on our to-do list once we’d decided we were visiting Bali. It did not disappoint…
Indonesia is the third-largest producer of rice in the world, the grain accounts for more than half of an average Indonesian’s diet, so is such an important part of the Balinese economy. The terraces were beautiful; steeped hillsides with a countless number of luscious green steps, flooded with water to aid the growth of the rice.
It was about at this point of the trip that we thought we ought to stop monkeying around!
Possibly one of the most exciting parts of the trip was The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. Here we were not only able to walk amongst, hold and feed the monkeys, we were also blessed with the stunning surroundings of three temples; The Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, The Pura Beji and The Pura Prajapati The park is heavily forested and hilly with a deep ravine which runs through the park and at the bottom flows a rocky stream.
I honestly don’t know which monkey was cheekier?
We stayed here until the sun set and the monkeys were full to the brim with all the bananas we’d been feeding them!
We had a fantastic day and felt truly Balinese. Widi and our driver took us back to our home for the next week, The Laguna Resort and Spa, where we ate, drank and relaxed for the rest of the evening.