Bali – Ubud

After a splurge dinner at the Sails restaurant on our last day in Amed we left the next morning for a volcano trip, a coffee plantation tour, and finally our hotel in Ubud (in the interior are of Bali).
The volcano was very interesting with a lake on the edge of the caldera, but the mist and rain that came in during our lunch obscured most of it. The touring of additional volcanoes is something that would definitely take me back to Bali

The coffee plantation was interesting as well, although I do not like coffee, but everyone else was very happy to indulge in some coffee while I stuck to tea. The highlight of this stop was the opportunity of people to try Kopi Luwak or Luwak Coffee, which is some of the most expensive and sought after coffee in the world. I do have to say that it is smoother and less bitter than other coffee but again not something I prefer to drink.

 

We also made a stop at the water temple to see some rituals (they are constant in Bali), participate in the some holy washing, and to tour the actual temple grounds

One of the highlights of the day though was just touring the countryside and seeing rice paddies and lush greenery of the interior of Bali

 

The best part of the day truly was getting to our AMAZING pool villas in Bali. We stayed at the Payogan Villa complex and we all had private pool villas, with amazing views, spacious rooms, and stunning details that made you want to lounge at your private pool or just relax in your villa all day long.

See some of the photos below:

 

The first day in Ubud was a day of market and art gallery wandering followed by a palace visit and that night enjoyed a cultural dance performance. We managed to pickup some great handicrafts in the local market tucked beneath the tourist fare, and even some great art in various galleries but did not purchase anything. 

 For lunch we had Babi Guling or roast suckling pig at Warung Ibu Oka, which has amazing food and great sit on the floor and meet your neighbor ambience. Loved it.

The dance performance was very entertaining with colorful and intricate costumes coupled with exquisite dance moves. The hand, eye and body movements of the dancers, the women especially, were amazing. I do not know how they actually do it, but I am sure it takes years and years of practice. 

The next day we headed to the famous Monkey Forest, where despite my claims of bravado, I did not hit or even scare the monkeys, In fact I think they actually liked me and decided I was a great shoulder to rest on


The monkey forest was interesting to see the temples, enjoy the jungle feel, and of course to see the monkeys. However, I felt the monkeys were much too aggressive and a lot of our group felt on edge around all the monkeys.
After monkeying around, we did some rice paddy trekking through some small villages, some rice paddies, and headed slowly back to Ubud. Along the way we sent Paula and Lindsay on motorbikes hired for about $2 a piece and we also got invited to an afternoon cockfight (although we did not attend). The walking allowed us to see the rural side of Ubud and enjoy the slow pace of life outside the tourist center. It was stunning to see the
greenery and the water systems used to grow acres and acres of rice. The amount of human labor that goes into growing in Bali is in large contrast to our motor powered large scale farming operations in the US

After trekking it was early afternoon and we just enjoyed a little wandering around town, and then headed back to our hotel for tea and relaxing by our pool before heading out in traditional Balinese dress for dinner.
The next morning we headed off to Kuta for two days including the New Year‘s Eve celebrations.

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