Bali – Ubud

At the start of planning this big adventure I was really looking forward to Bali. I don’t know why, whether it was the researching we’d done, the look of absolute tranquillity in certain areas or just getting back into yoga, but I was really excited. The extra bonus was meeting up with Alicia and Maarten aka ‘Long Neck’ for 5 nights in Ubud. It was so great seeing these two again, after not seeing them since Bangkok at the end of the tour, catching up was amazing.

We made sure to fit loads of things in whilst we were all together. First day we went for a walk down to the Monkey Forest. There’s no way of keeping these cute but pesky monkey’s in one area, they roam freely about the whole island really, but they know where they will always get yams so they come back. The area is a lot bigger than I thought for walking about and it’s hilarious watching people trying to grab their sunglasses back from a cheeky monkey. Though it did blow our minds why people didn’t put everything loose into their backpacks like we did…

We also decided to book a cooking class and have a hand at making Balinese style dishes. Stu found a great class by a local family in the countryside. We got picked up from our great hotel and taken to the local market to see where all the produce comes from and what the different spices, fruit and veg are used. Our guide bought us a Salak fruit each which I’d never seen before and probably wouldn’t have bought it to try on my own. It’s got a very spiky, snake print skin that’s hard to peel open, the fruit inside is white and tough like a nut almost but it tastes a little like apple. After our tour in the Market we got to the open air kitchen, we had a few more groups come together and all of our ingredients were laid out and we had a tutorial of everything before we started. Trying and tasting four different types of ginger that blew your socks off was amongst a few of the ingredients we tasted before cooking with them. The cooks were so passionate about their food and seemed excited to see lots of people try their best at the favourite dishes.

We made:

  • Peanut Sauce (that tops Gado Gado)
  • Bumbu Bali (the base spice mix)
  • Sambal (spicy tomato sauce)
  • Kare Sayur (veggie curry)
  • Sate (tofu, tempeh and veggies covered in the peanut sauce)
  • Pepes Jamur (grilled mushrooms in banana leaf)
  • Mi Goreng (Balinese fried noodles)
  • Sup Timon (fresh cucumber in turmeric broth)
  • Kolak Pisang (braised banana in sugar gravy)

It was so much food. We were stuffed, they even brought over rice to go with the curry. It was great using traditional methods with the huge mortar and pestle for the sambal and Bumbu paste. Maarten did amazingly well since the only thing he’d previously cooked was soup from a packet…

We also decided to sign up to some yoga classes. Alicia found a great place called Yoga Barn that was a bit of a walk away but really worth it. Stu and Maarten went to a beginners class and loved it, whilst myself and Alicia went for a classic Hatha class. We were sweating so much, we gave each other a look of horror at the sweat pouring down our faces but it was so great to be in a studio again. We also tried a class for all of us to do together which was new for us all, Acro Yoga! It was intimidating at first walking into a class full of people that looked extremely serious about yoga life, but as soon as the class started it was so much fun. The amount of crazy poses we did was awesome and even better doing it with Maarten and Alicia, although Maarten had to join a group for the giants of the class…

There’s so much to see in Ubud and you’re close to the countryside and rice terraces. We took advantage of that and booked a local man to drive us to various tourist attractions. Our first stop was the coffee and tea plantation, we got to learn all about the famous poop coffee, yup poop coffee. The farmers feed small amounts of coffee to animals that look like big ferrets called civets. then when they poop, the coffee beans that they can’t digest get dried out, roasted and straight into your espresso machine. Safe to say we didn’t try it. But the tasters of tea and coffee were very varied and different. There’s also a lot of swings here, for that special instagram photo where you’re over the rice terraces. We made Alicia do some poses in a weird birds nest and obviously we then had Maarten do it. Here are some insta-famous photos…

Tegallalang Rice Terrace was next on the list, it’s so beautiful to see the vibrant green staggered rice fields. The tourists come to this place so a lot of locals try to make you pay ‘donations’ to get over a certain bridge or through a gate but you don’t have to. It was really great to walk through the fields, we were lucky to have the rice at a time in the harvest where it was bright green. We then went to see the Holy Springs Temple called Tirta Empul where the water is said to be clean to drink but there have been cases of e-coli recently. The springs come through into pools through ‘showers’ where people bathe, it’s said to have curative qualities and was created by a Hindu God Indra. Our last stop was the Elephant Temple named after the Dutch excavated it when they colonised the island. It was built as a spiritual place to meditate and had spring showers as well as smaller temples and gardens. When our driver dropped us off at this temple he mentioned about having to buy a sarong to see it, normally you tend to get free ones to borrow at the ticket station. As soon as we got out of the car about 4 different women came up to make us buy one each at an expensive price, we decided to chance it and go and get our tickets first. Luckily we saw a massive bin of sarongs that came free with the ticket! Also weirdly a sign to say you can’t visit if you’re on your period…

We also had a lovely swimming pool at the hotel that we went in everyday, mainly for Maarten to practice under water handstands, drag Alicia around the pool and have swimming races! It was also the best way to cool off in the afternoon heat. The food was just amazing as well. We chose some great places for brunch and tea, Alicia and myself got to have our fill of avocado since we’re both addicted and we also went to some great vegan and vegetarian cafes.

It was really sad to see our travel buddies leave, but we’re so glad to have been able to spend some time with them before they carried onto the Philippines. They are both awesome people and it’s been a pleasure to get to know them so well. We have enjoyed many video calls from them since, mostly very drunken ones!

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We managed to capture in a portrait the pure pain someone feels when they have to leave us! (Love you Alicia haha)

We had an extra two nights after our goodbyes. We did another yoga class, walked a trail to watch the sunrise and ate more amazing foods. Then got a transfer to Lovina, the north of Bali.

 

 

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