Coming to the end of our month long east asia trip, we had the foresight to book a week’s worth of relxation holiday in Bali. Three nights in Gili Air and 4 nights in Club Med, Bali.
Still, we didn’t want to become completely dormant at our resort. We both agreed that we would use one full day for sightseeing and a little culture. Plus John insisted that we go see some monkeys. We booked a driver for the day on TripAdvisor, with a planned itinerary which included a waterfall, some rice fields, a water temple and the monkey forest in Ubud.
On the morning of our third day back in Bali we were collected from our Hotel by our driver Darma. Setting off at 8 am, with a pretty decent grasp of the english language we started small talk.
We discussed where we would like to go and agreed on the aforementioned itinerary, and then it happened. “Would you like to go see a local wood carver?”, “No Darma, cut that shit out, we don’t want to see your friend Dave’s wood carving place.”. We had enough tourism on our list we didn’t need to see the mandatory commission based local arts and craft vendor stop. I thought Darma was better than that.
First stop was Tegenungan Waterfall in Gianyar. There was a car park, plenty of shops, many many steps down, passing some cascades, and then further to the river followed by a few more steps to the waterfall and swimming hole.
On the way down there were also plenty of artificial Instagram spot, like the ‘branches shaped into a heart with a view of the waterfall’, ‘large novelty bird nest for sitting in with a view’, many more ‘branches in the shape of hearts’ and of course the ‘red painted large concrete floor heart’ for the aerial photo experts.
I still enjoyed it though, it was hot, quite the cash cow, but still stunningly beautiful.
We continued on the road to the Tirta Empul Temple, described to us as the Water Temple. This was a Hindu Balinese temple with a main bathing area for visitors to take part in a ritual purification in the holy spring water.
In true us style, shorts were unacceptable, so a sarong for both was mandatory, this time only rentals, but included in the entry price.
The temple was alright, there wasn’t much context to anything we were seeing. The self purification shindig was very popular with the sinful tourists!
There was also a nearby pond with all the gold fish in the world.
We exited the temple but naturally signs corralled us into a linear shopping area. We must have passed about 50 vendors before finding our way back to Darma and the car. I think we did pretty well only having bought a few pants, tapestries and souvenirs. Oops.
Our next stop, not too far away was Satria Agrowisata. We slipped into the itinerary a short stop for some coffee tasting. Darma walked us through the gardens describing the plants and fruits as he went. Then we were introduced to one of the guides belonging to this Coffee company. They were all wearing yellow t-shirts with ‘poo hunter’ printed on the front to promote their most expensive coffee – Cat Poo Chino.
Our guide produced a number of drinks for us to taste, for free. I was a little caught off guard by the lack of sales pressure exerted throughout the entire experience. Probably explains why we ended up spending so much money there. Flavours included ginger tea, coconut coffee, avocado coffee, lemongrass tea and more. Their cat-poo coffee being so expensive was not free, so I offered to pay for a cup if John drank the ginger tea in one go with no chaser for 5 mins. He definitely earned that cat-poo coffee!
Next on the itinerary were the rice fields of Tegallalang. Most good photogenic rice fields have a good unobstructed view of their relief pattern or at the very least are located in a long valley. This one was the latter, though this one knew how to cash in. In fact I’d be surprised whether with two zip lines, half a dozen solo and couple swings and pay-only Instagram locations where they even bothered with the rice anymore. Still, still looked great!
We had enough money for John to have a go on the zip line and for me to test out my action photo skills.
Last stop of the day was of course the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. Our first and last stop in Ubud. I’d heard that Ubud was a popular destination, but I’d never been.
Darma dropped us off at the impressively large modern entrance where we paid the IDR80k entry fee each. We then walked along the signposted path, through a tunnel and there we were. In the fenced Monkey Sanctuary.
There’s no much to say except that there were many monkeys, some were docile, some sneaky, some horny, some with big balls, some with big teeth.
There were also many tourists, some that strayed off the path, some that sat in monkey poo and some that i hoped would have their camera stolen by the monkeys they so desperately wanted selfies with.
It was a pretty good, bloody long day, and very enjoyable. We ended up paying AUD100 for the whole day, just the two of us with Darma and his comfy car (the rear seats were the super reclining type). More persons would have dropped the price down further.
In the evening we grabbed a taxi and went to one of my favourite bars La Favela Bar in Seminyak. Whilst entry is free, they more than make up their money in drink prices. Especially if you are drunk!