In my first post, I spoke about staying at Kuta beach, the main area on Bali Island. In this post, I will talk about what there is to discover and experience on this amazing island. During the day we made plans to visit Ubud, do the popular coffee tasting, visit the local textile looms, see the island’s active volcano and eat some local cuisine by the scenic rice paddies.
How to get there
We didn’t make any pre-arrival plans. There are many hole-in-the-wall tourist agencies on the main road and there are various pamphlets at the front and information desks at the hotels. You can simply browse through them and then ask the front desk to arrange a tour on the day. That simple.
We were picked up by a tour guide in a mini bus at the hotel in the early morning to start our trip.
The Textile Looms
We first stopped by traditional Indonesian weavers where they make the traditional fabrics and prints. The looms have been around for centuries, and many of the textiles are used in the final manufacturing factories.
After visiting the looms, we got to see a traditional Indonesian concert. The music was provided by live musicians playing an array of traditional instruments from gongs, drums, stringed instruments etc. The story told of various gods partaking in a plot with mortal men and women in the fight for good and evil.
I liked this show and enjoyed the vibrant colours and dance. It was unique and def worth seeing. The show lasts for about 1 hour.
Temples, temples, temples.
We got to visit many temples and enjoy the traditional Indonesian architecture. Traditionally homes are also surrounded by a decorative wall and gate which encloses the home. Before entering the temple, you must wear a traditional sarong which will be available outside the temples. You simply wrap it around your waist before entering.
The design and spaces inside the temples are really beautiful, and all exude peace and tranquillity amidst the little gardens and praying statues. Try and see as many as you can!
Cat poop Coffee
I don’t drink coffee. I’m a tea lover. The visit to the coffee plantation was part of the itinerary and everyone with me loved coffee. It didn’t matter that I’m not a coffee fan, the trip to the plantation was pretty cool. We got to see the wild cat species known as Kop Luwak, a type of indigenous civet that eats the beans. It’s digestive processes apparently makes the coffee bean’s taste more unique and improved. They also had a variety of local teas for tasting!
Rice paddies and local cuisine
Rice is a major staple to Indonesians, and can be found on every menu. In Ubud, we got to see the unique rice paddies in the shapes of steps, browse a local market and then have a light and refreshing Indonesian styled breakfast. Our breakfast was served near the one of the island’s active volcanoes with a waterfall nearby.
We got to have our lunch at the tea and coffee plantations at nearby pagoda. The lunch was all local dishes and was served on a giant palm tree leaf and served a mix of pork, chicken, beans and spices on rice.
The Ubud Monkey Forest
I thought this was one of the best parts about the trip. The monkey forest is full of people everywhere. We have lots of monkeys back home on South Africa, but what makes this forest so unique is it’s beautiful natural tropical forest that is entwined amidst 3 sacred Hindu temples. It creates amazing photo opportunities. The Forest also serves as a conservation area that preserves the natural wildlife and its religious dignity.
Beautiful jungle ravines hang among moss grown tone carvings, while little brooks run through it. It was very serene. It’s definitely worth the visit.
Water tube rafting
On our last day, we decided to do something fun and went tube rafting down one of the streams that came from a gushing waterfall. This was pretty cool and really exciting. Our guides and their team were extra nice too, and the overcast rainy weather didn’t affect it at all.
We had no beach days, the weather wasn’t great, but it Bali was still fun. It was a really cool vacation and an amazing place I would visit it again and hopefully the weather Gods will be on my side. The island is beautiful and its nature is stunning. The only thing, as I said before, was the travelling aspect of touring around the island….and that was the crazy traffic. Discovering a bit of local Indonesian culture was definitely the highlight of my trip and something I won’t forget.
Indonesia also has a long history with Southern Africa as many of the islands were under the rule of various European colonies and a lot of trade happened between the country and Southern Africa. Long ago, many of the islands were once referred to as the Malay Peninsulas which was a port for spice, foods and even slavery. You can also see the small Dutch influence as they also call hand towels “hand doeke”.
- In my last post I said that tourists have to pay a visa fee on arrival, the rules have changed since and apparently South African is now exempt of this fee. Check online.
- Don’t worry if it does rain, South East Asia is always hot so you can still enjoy lot’s of outdoor activities.
- Should you visit the Monkey Forest, it ideal to keep any food outside of the forest. You can purchase snack for them there. Also, don’t make a noise it’s also a place of prayer.