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Published: October 24th 2017
We took the Kura Kura bus ($5) to Ubud from Sanur, about an hour drive north into the interior of Bali. Ubud is know as the spiritual center of Bali and was made famous by the book/movie Eat, Pray, Love which somehow I missed throughout the years but will have to read now.
We stayed 3 nights at Jiwa's Guest House ($22 w/bkfst), which was our favorite accommodation so far this trip. We were located centrally in the busy tourist area but Jiwa has managed to operate a luxurious and tranquil jungle oasis filled with ponds, altars, fountains and a pool and includes an incredible breakfast served to you on your balcony.
Ubud goes down as one of my favorite towns and on the list for a must return one day. There are allegedly more vegan restaurants here than anywhere else in the world, which I don't doubt, $6 hour long massages and yoga studios on every block. We ate the most delicious organic and locally sourced food from a variety of restaurants including a couple on rice paddies with permaculture gardens that served the most incredible raw and macrobiotic food. No matter how extravagant
the food was we never spent more than $4 for what would be considered a more expensive entree and usually Dennis's Bintang beer cost more than our food. I daydreamed just cashing in our retirements and moving here, never having to cook another meal again , becoming a yogi and taking in every sad skinny dog with severe mange we saw to live in our jungle retreat. We did visit with the BAWA foundation to donate after learning that they operate the only 24/7 dog ambulance, do street feedings, vaccinations, sterilizations, public education and more. This is a town full of good vibes amd karma, and if you are a single guy should definitely be on your travel list. The ratio of women to men is about 1-20, with attractive groups of healthy yoga girls from all over the world roaming the streets (oh and that 1 dude per 20 is a husband getting dragged here by his wife.)
We rented a scooter one of the days, hearing that was the best way to get around to check out the local attractions such as waterfalls, rice terraces, coffee plantations and temples. We ended up having a harrowing
day of stressful driving in search of a set of particular famous terraced rice patties that we never did find, but found many other emerald green fields as far as the eye could see instead. We swam beneath the waterfall and found a small coffee plantation with a sad lone Civet in a cage. These cats are the ones that famously eat coffee beans and their excrement is used to make alleged delicious and ridiculously expensive coffee that tourists love to buy up for bragging rights. We have refused to ever partake in this coffee as the cruelty of the captivity of these poor little creatures is of course horrendous. Being an animal in a 3rd world Asian country is rarely ever anything short of a tragedy and to be told otherwise is a lie.
Driving a scooter with two people on busy roads in Asia is not for the novice or faint of heart and many qvisitors end up having pretty bad wrecks. Dennis is a great driver with scooter experience and I think he still hasn't forgiven me for this day and blames some of the grey hairs in his mustache on it. All in
all I can't recommend this mode of travel to anyone unless you are situated in a rural area with light traffic or enjoy flirting with disaster. In hindsight spending some extra money and hiring a car for the day or doing a tour would have been the best option.
On our last day we shopped at the art market early in the morning to get the first deals of the day. I have learned from my years of 3rd world souvenir shopping to be the first ones of the day before it gets too chaotic but to also eliminate some frustrating haggling. Most countries, especially Asian, we have been to are extremely superstitious and believe the first sale of the day gives you good luck for the rest of the day so they rarely let you walk away without offering their bottom line. Once the sale is complete they take your money and bless and fan the money over the rest of their merchandise with it while saying a prayer. We of course went to a Yoga class, trying Hatha at Taksu spa ($8), a style neither of us were familiar with. Dennis being the awesome husband that
he is happily partook in our 3 person class in one of the most beautiful yoga spots you could hope for alongside a river in the jungle. We of course had plans to do more but we are on vacation after all and manage to walk on average 10 miles a day without "officially exercising."
Our final stop was visiting the main attraction in the area, the sacred monkey forest sanctuary ($3). This is a Hindu temple complex and nature reserve set aside in the city center where hundreds of Long tailed Macaque monkeys live freely and where you can walk amongst them and feed them if you like. We decided this was not a good idea because this often results in scratches, bites and stolen property, and the monkeys carry Herpes B, a potentially fatal virus to humans. We enjoyed this place more than we thought we were going to after having seen tons of monkeys throughout our travels. We took a ton of hilarious and adorable videos of the monkeys, many of which had tiny infants clinging to them. It never ceases to amaze us when we watch wild monkeys on our trips and see
so many human traits and characteristics in their behaviors.
We spent our last night attending a Kecak Fire and Trance dance performance ($5). Ubud is famous for seeing traditional dance and there are several different kinds to see every night at different temples. The Kecak is the most famous and widely attended to by tourists and features a large group of seated men of varying ages chanting "kecak" and other monkey type sounds while undulating, inducing a trance like state. As far as cultural shows that I drag Dennis to every trip this has been one of the best and we are still "kecaking" each other days later.
We spent our last night in Bali in the main tourist hub of Kuta, centrally located near the airport for our departure in the morning to Komodo. I planned on skipping the entire south of Bali knowing it was just going to be a cess pool full of souvenir shops and drunk Aussies but we had some extra time and walked to the beach and weren't disappointed, it was every bit as nasty as we thought and confirmed we were in fact not missing anything here.
Next stop Komodo for diving and dragon hunting!
I've attached a few videos below
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