Ubud In One Day

We awoke around 8:30 a.m. and ate the breakfast prepared by our guesthouse – mango pancake, scrambled eggs with a green vegetable of sorts, and fresh mango, papaya, and dragon fruit. All of this was served alongside a minty green vegetable juice. It was amazing. While we ate, Doug took the time to pin the various sites we were interested in visiting around Ubud in Google Maps. Why, you ask? Because we were going to be MOTORBIKING! Yes, it was time to put the skills we learned back in Kep to good use.

When we were ready for the day, we met up with our guesthouse host, Komang, and picked up our scooter. It was a nice newer looking white scooter. Doug chose to drive first and after some basic introduction on how to start it, we were off! Though we quickly learned that driving in Ubud is nothing like driving in Kep. First, the roads are all paved. Second, they are very narrow – major roads are two European cars wide, minor roads are one European car wide. Second and a half, vehicles form at least 3 lanes the majority of the time. Third, the roads curve… a lot… and most of the turns are at 90 degree angles. Oh, and if you couldn’t guess there’s traffic. Needless to say, we are very happy that we learned in Kep.

We worked our way north through Ubud to our first site, the Tegalalang rice terraces. On the way, a nice Indonesian man waved us down to inform us that our blinker was still on… oops… but then he started attempting to get us to follow him to the rice terraces. Doug was having to navigate the road while waving this guy off which may have not been the best decision. We were able to shrug him off successfully and then find the way on our own, helped only by the increase in tourist shops and restaurants… and rice terraces. We parked the bike and made our way down into the sloping paddies. Though similar to Sapa in Vietnam, these paddies were a bit cozier in nature helped by the very narrow flowing stream that divided the two slopes. We made our way across the stream with the help of a bridge and approached a bamboo hut with people in it with a promptly displayed sign requesting donations for bridge and road maintenance. As we attempted to walk by, a women stood in front of us and pointed at the collection bin. We were being bullied to donate, but we quickly gave in. We walked along the edge of the paddies and up the very picturesque terraces, enjoying the ducks playing in the paddy water and the sound of the spinning wind chimes placed throughout. Doug was even able to practice his Black H’mong death grip a few times on Lynn while going down steeper areas which Lynn very much appreciated.

Approaching the Tegalalang rice terraces.
Approaching the Tegalalang rice terraces.
Lynn admiring the view
Lynn admiring the view

After enjoying a quick jaunt through the rice fields, we hopped back on our motorbike (that sounds nice, maybe we should get one?) heading south to Ubud to enjoy some babi guling for lunch. Doug had found a well reviewed place, but was warned via the internet that the babi guling places get very busy for lunch, so busy that we may even have a wait ahead of us. We parked the bike in the center of town and walked a few blocks up a side road to the restaurant. Initially our hopes were dashed because it appeared to be closed. Upon closer inspection we learned that no, they were in fact open and we were the only customers. All the more food for us. We ordered two specials, a dish with a selection of roast pig, pig skin, cracklin’, and blood sausage served with some white rice and a potato soup. We dug right in and were quickly in agreement that Indonesian food is definitely better than Cambodian. Though it was all very greasy, we enjoyed the flavor a great deal. We left noticing that there was a large number of people waiting for take out orders to be completed so we may have arrived at just the right time.

Babi guling, aka Balinese suckling pig
Babi guling, aka Balinese suckling pig
The babi guling storefront.
The entire babi guling shop.

Once more on our bike, a bit heavier, we took off for Goa Gajah with Lynn at the wheel this time. Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, does not have elephants despite its name. It was built as a place for meditation back in the 11th century and features a cave carved into a rock face with various demons for decoration. We managed to thwart the vendors selling saris “needed for the temple” and purchased tickets after patiently waiting behind far too many school groups. After procuring the tickets, we had them checked and were graciously wrapped in free saris before making our way down the steps and into the complex. We may have had the same opinion of someone on TripAdvisor thinking that it was anticlimactic, but it was still nice to be settled among the very large jungle trees. The cave itself was very dark and very hot and very full of school children. We quickly went in and out. Then we roamed the rest of the grounds which featured its own rice paddy, vendor shops, waterfall, and temples, both whole and toppled.

View overlooking Goa Gajah
View overlooking Goa Gajah
Doug sporting the ever fashionable sari admiring the temple statues.
Doug sporting the ever fashionable sari admiring the temple statues.
Doug posing with the decorative opening of the cave.
Doug posing with the decorative opening of the cave.
School children praying inside of the cave.
School children praying inside of the cave.

We gathered our belongings and consulted the map once more before heading towards the Tegenungan waterfall. Along the way we took some quaint back roads which gave us great views of the smaller towns surrounding Ubud and more rice fields. We parked and walked down the many steps leading to the 4 story waterfall. It was gorgeous and very powerful. Quickly undressing to our swimsuits (we were very hot by this point), we hopped in with the other tourists. The water was the perfect temperature and the waterfall and surrounding moss covered cliffs provided a delightful background. After watching others, Doug chose to succumb to the powers of the waterfall by walking through its path. He enjoyed the feeling on his back, but did not enjoy how much it hurt his head. We took in the views for quite some time before drying off and walking back to our motorbike.

Peaceful drive through Bali's countryside
Peaceful drive through Bali’s countryside
More rice fields
More rice fields
Tegenungan waterfall's surrounding landscape
Tegenungan waterfall’s surrounding landscape
Tegenungan waterfall up close and personal
Tegenungan waterfall up close and personal
"Lynn, Lynn watch me waterfall"
“Lynn, Lynn watch me waterfall!”

We had one last tourist stop for the day, the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. We drove over and parked outside some storefronts nearby. Upon entering we were greeted by macaques, many macaques. In fact, over 600 live in this park and prey on tourists. Seriously, they are known for being very aggressive, stealing water bottles, sunglasses, and any food whatsoever, but we didn’t witness any of this during our time here. We walked the forest grounds, must larger than expected, laughing at how close to humans these monkeys really are. We saw a few monkey fights, many monkeys picking at the fur of their friends, and even monkeys attempting to break down leaves by rubbing them under rocks along the pavement. We were also extremely creeped out when we heard a very loud monkey wail, followed by all of the other monkeys in the forest replying with their own wails and moving quickly towards the originator. It could have been the apocalypse for all we knew, so we stood still until we saw a staff member going about his duties without concern. Phew, we weren’t going to die today.

Hello monkey!
Hello monkey!
They all seemed to be thirsty.
They all seemed to be thirsty.
Just like humans.
Just like humans.
Breaking down leaves
Breaking down leaves

It was roughly 3:30 p.m. by this point and our only other task for the day was dinner. So we killed time by doing some shopping. Lynn was on the search for a small handbag to replace the once she’s had for the past 3 years which was now starting to leave droppings of pleather around her duffel bag. Doug desperately needed new flipflops. He had been repairing his current ones with superglue every 2-3 weeks. Luckily there are many surfshops around so Doug wouldn’t need to settle for ugly slide flip flops which are common throughout Asia. After much debate, Doug ended up purchasing some Reef flipflops. Lynn didn’t have such luck deciding that she was much too picky.

Out with the old and in with the new
Out with the old and in with the new

To celebrate the end of our shopping spree, we enjoyed some watermelon juice on an outdoor patio (something we had been wanting since we left our monkey friends), before walking the 30 minutes to dinner. Dinner would be at Warung d’Atas, the 3rd best restaurant on TripAdvisor, and at a single $, lucky for us. Expecting a large crowd once again we were surprised to find that it was just us and another expact on his laptop in the whole restaurant. Either it’s offseason for Bali or the volcano action has really done some damage on tourism this week. The special here is pork ribs so we ordered one plate to split accompanied by some lemon juice for Doug and a mix of coconut juice and lime juice for Lynn. Though not Fat Matt’s (in Atlanta – go there!), it was still very, very good. We asked the owner for the secret to the sauce (he declined) and were told they’d only been open for 5 months. Not too shabby for their place on TripAdvisor. He recommended we try the grilled bananas for dessert which we very much did and enjoyed despite it featuring shredded parmesan cheese over the top. It was a surprise but added some saltiness to the sweetness of the ice cream and bananas.

Balinese ribs
Balinese ribs
Grilled banana dessert with ice cream and cheese
Grilled banana dessert with ice cream and cheese

Full once again, we walked back to our motorbike, stopping along the way to buy some very inexpensive t-shirts for Doug and jeans for Lynn. When we got to where we had last parked, we were very concerned. Our motorbike was no where to be founded amongst the two remaining. We were in trouble. We then looked up the street at a cluster of bikes and thank goodness there it was, taunting us. We have now learned the heart-dropping lesson that they will move your motorbike it if is in their way.

With the motorbike now in our possession, we headed back to our guesthouse in Mas to get some more rest before tomorrows trip to the north of the island.

Daily Walking Miles : 10.1

Daily Motorbike Miles : 31.6

Fun Facts:

  • Bali is 8 degrees south of the equator. This means that Lynn, for the first time in her life, is south of the equator! Also, it is officially springtime. Woot!
  • Bali is the first place since Kyoto that we have noticed a large number of locals still wearing traditional dress. The bright saris and headpieces are a lovely addition to the already beautiful scenery.
  • Throughout Bali you will see canang sari, along sidewalks, on top of temples, in front of storefronts, everywhere. These are daily Hindu offerings to the supreme god of Indonesian Hindus, Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa. Each component (betel leaf, lime, gambier, prestige, tobacco, and betel nuts) has a special meaning.
Canang sari
Canang sari

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