Roi (my driver) and I didn’t get around to all of the activities we had planned the day before, so he graciously offered to finish the tour on his motorbike on my third day, and last, day in Kuta.
The day started with a motorbike tour of the Mandera Toll Road Bridge at sunrise. We watched the early morning fisherman reel in the catch of the day as their shadows from the sunrise danced against the bridge posts. It was my first time on the bike so I was apprehensive to use my camera at the time, so it remains a simple and tranquil memory.
We then scooted over to Nusa Dua and explored the two beaches that sandwiched the pennisula. The undisturbed crystal clear water and white pebble sand paralleled the manicured gardens and walkways in an area known for elite five star hotels and resorts.
Next to the viewing platform was a rocky point break where you could stand and splashed by the waves colliding against the seawall. You can check out the video below of the ~spray. I guess this was kind of my own version of the ice bucket challenge?
After seeing some drunk elephants and more decorative walkways we headed out to the next location on the docket; Uluwatu Temple.
I caught the motorbike ride on my GoPro, which you can check out below. The video captures the ambience and atmosphere of a normal day on the main road through South Bali. We start out in a typical village, complete with a few warangs (small shops) on the side of the road, pass a few Indonesian flags and then zip through lush greenery as we approach the coast. The video also shows why so many tourists leave Bali with motorbike injuries, its easy to not know what you’re doing in such lawless traffic. And then to my non-Australian readers; the left side of the road is right (right as in correct). Despite its dangers, motorbike is the primary form of transportation on the small island. Most Balinese start driving one to school at age 10. Keep an eye out for Roi’s silhouetted goatee 😉
So we made it to Uluwatu Temple! The temple is poised on an elevated plateau on limestone cliffs that sweep down to the white-capped ocean. A forest surrounds the area, so monkeys come out and “play” with the tourists and accept food from locals.
The view was impressive and very humbling. The photos do better than what I can describe with words.
At this point in the trip, Roi and I were pretty close friends. He offered to drive me to my next destination, Ubud (a town an hour away), on motorscooter as part of the two day sightseeing package.
After begging him to show me some authentic Indo food, we stopped for lunch at his favorite local warung (small, local family restaurant), Sambal Mak Beng, in Sanur Beach. They offer a set menu of sambal (spicy fried fish), fish head soup with rice and a clementine drink for 34.000 rupiah (less than $3). It was quite spicy, but the fish was fresh, flaky and cooked to crispy perfection. As we started the day watching fisherman, things came full circle as we sat and enjoyed their catch.
Sambal Mak Beng has been in the same location (just off the beach) since 1941; which is a long time for a restaurant to run anywhere, let alone in Bali. Despite its longstanding success, it has managed to retain its humble setting with wooden communal picnic tables and opting to use the sea breeze instead of air conditioning. I got to talking my tablemates and they told me they had been coming to the Mak Beng since they were children. To this day it remains one of their favorite lunch spots. A true local favorite.
After lunch we checked out Sanur Beach. The local, authentic Indonesia feel was a refreshing contrast to Nusa Dua’s manufactured semblance.
It was off to Ubud! Roi wedged my big backpacker’s bag in between his feet on his motorbike for the journey over. I got some footage of the ride; the difference between the two towns was pretty big.
The normal Western-looking buildings are pottery and tourist shops (which there were sooo many of), and then the silhouetted pointy rock buildings are the temples/entryways to the houses. (I’ll cover Balinese houses in a later post). The video just shows the ambiance of the outskirts of Ubud; it doesn’t show the actual town at all.
The first stop we made after arriving in Ubud was the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. It was, again, humbling to be surrounded by such awesome and lush beauty. One of the farmers gave me a personal tour of the fields behind the main side, which is in the video below.
He showed me the irrigation system, some rice and even his own home!
I can’t imagine the labor and time that went into constructing the terraces; it was incredible to see in person.
The Tampak Siring (Holy Spring Water) Temple was Roi and I’s last adventure together. The Hindu Temple is sacred as a place to cleanse oneself of bad influences in the body, and purify the soul and mind. The traditional showers are sourced from the springs, and the water is believed to eliminate diseases and any adverse problems in the human life. The pool is filled with giant koi, flower petals and used prayer offering bamboo baskets. Each visitor goes down the line to wash their head and face in each of the fountains, which you can see me do in the video.
Inside the temple were tranquil koi ponds. Sparrows were diving down to skim the top of the water and creating small ripples, disturbing the lichen on top.
I also saw some chromatic sarongs drying in the sun behind the temple and meditated next to the pond.
I bid farwell to Roi and settled into my new (and much cleaner) hotel room in Ubud.
Annabel, my friend/big sister in Kappa, has a friend getting yoga certified in Bali. She connected us, and I went out for a drink at a hookah bar with her and her yoga-certification-classmate.
A few hours and drinks later, I was dropped off at the bottom of the long street that my hotel was at the top of. I stumbled up the huge hill unsure of where the hotel actually was (classic). Roi and I were lost looking for it earlier in the day, and it was difficult to remember where it was in the dark and a bit tipsy.
On my journey up the dark alley-way-road, I had the unfortunate experience of crossing paths with two wild, barking dogs. I have a really irrational fear of dogs in general; but the big, feral Bali ones were absolutely terrifying. I clung onto a broom for protection, made it past, and continued my journey up the narrow alley.
But, I still couldn’t find my hotel and thought I passed it, so I went back down the street to try to look for the street number, which proved to be a big blunder. I came across the dogs again, but this time two more came out on the other side of me. Five dogs surrounded me, incessantly barking. I was trapped, broomless, alone and absolutely terrified. As I’m stuck there, it starts downpouring; which was (ugh) perfect timing. I retreated to a small temple entry behind me (just like the one in the picture) to hide and take some sort of shelter from the rain. The incessant barking and paws hitting the stone was like a nightmare. I was really scared that the dogs were going to come close to me and I didn’t know what to do. The situation seemed hopeless; I thought I was going to be stuck there all night.
Until, I saw lights flash from down the street. I waved down the passing car, so, so grateful that they happened to be driving by at 3am. It was a police car, and the officers were a bit surprised that they had just picked up a sopping wet, American girl sobbing on the side of the road in the middle of the night, but they dropped me off at my hotel (which was five minutes up the road) and all was good again. 🙂