Indonesia is a wonderful place (actually >15000 islands) but Bali is special even by those standards. There is something magical about this predominantly Hindu island. Is it the temperament of the people? Is it the natural beauty? Is it the peacefulness of its main religion? Not sure but it is one of our favourite destinations. We were first here in 2009 in Padang Bai. This time is even more special as our friends Chas and Gisela (who left the ship in Singapore) flew to nearby Sanur last night! Two days of sightseeing and food coming up!
We have a car and driver for the two days, $60 per day. After some discussion about what we all want to see we head off to Tanah Lot. This is one of the water temples in southern Bali, Ulu Watu being the other main one. On the way we start to get views of rice paddies and various other crops. Fruit trees are everywhere along the road. Tanah Lot is apparently best seen at sunset but it was perfectly enjoyable during the day. After seeing the temple from various angles and trying to capture the amazing waves crashing into the rocks, we wander off to the furthest warung on the cliff side. ( Pat headed off to see the “Sacred Snake”, and wish for good luck). The reward was an excellent view and some super fruit drinks. Imagine a 100% banana puree/juice drink while basking in the sun, listening to the crashing waves below and seeing the temple. Yep, that is what it was like for 30 minutes there.
We convinced our driver/guide Ketut to take us to a local warung, not a tourist place. He is unsure about doing this but we assure him that we are not the normal tourists he is used to. The result: a wonderful place run by a lady and her mother. Mother goes off in the rain on moped to get some Bintang beer as they were out. Daughter cooks up a fabulous meal, 3 sharing a large fish with rice, Gerrit taking a Nasi Goreng Ayam (fried rice with chicken on the side), and Pat ate Ayam Goreng (fried chicken with plain rice). With condiments such as 3 types of sambal it is an awesome lunch. It was pouring rain while we were eating but it eases up once we leave.
After some more discussion on sites to visit and timing, we decide to go to Alas Kedaton, a monkey forest and temple. The guides here all own a shop, they get assigned a 3 day period during which they guide visitors and then invite them to their shop. An interesting system to ensure an equal opportunity to sell their wares. The monkeys, about 1000, are everywhere. One tries to befriend Pat but she is not too happy about it. There are also a lot of bats here, sleeping during the day in the trees. Gerrit and Chas take advantage of an opportunity to hold one. Their wings are quite rubbery, an interesting feeling.
In Bali there is always another temple and while it may sound boring and repetitive to see them, each has its own character and appeal. On the way to Ubud, we stop at Purah Taman Ayun. This stunning temple, as many others, is still in use.
That covers the first 8 hours! Phew this travel thing is very hard work. Our last stop is Puri Sindhu Mertha in Sanur which is where Gisela and Chas were staying for a few weeks. This lovely 8 room hotel is an oasis from the hustle and bustle around it. A dip in the pool refreshes us and we are ready for Babi Guling (roast pork) in one of the night markets in Denpasar. The hotel provides a driver for our use. This delicacy comprises roast pork, pork rind, pork skin, heart, lips and of course rice and various sambals. It is prefaced with a bowl of soup that is also used to flavour the rice.