Travel Indonesia – Spandau Bali Part 1

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We finally made it to the most popular of Indonesian destinations. Flying into Bali we were glad to be heading to a more relaxed area which is predominately Hindu’s. Landing in Denpasar our first stop was Ubud, which is about an hours drive North of the Island, we used our GO app yet again and managed to get a reluctant taxi to take us up. GO is seen as an undercutting business in Bali and there is a taxi war going on pretty much banning GO drivers from taking fares at the airport, but when we doublecheked the price of the airport taxi it was outrageous next to GO.

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Still a bit overcast we headed to a rainy UBud for a couple of days before heading back south to Kuta…but we wished we had just spent around a month just here. It was a beautiful little town that looks although it was formed out of the rocks around it. Art and craft were on offer everywhere, was picturesque and made us forget about the rain (one of these places where you check real estate windows to see if its feasible for you to live there). After checking in our bags at Sayan Kubu (go there if you are in Ubud the friendliest staff you will meet who will bend over backwards to make your stay pleasant) we headed for the highlight of Ubud….the Sacred Monkey forest.

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Armed with our raincoats and a plethora of Bananas we walked to the forest at the end of the main street, as we got about 20 feet from the entrance, it became apparent just how many their are and freely these toerags live. They were swinging from the phone wires, raiding the local shops and causing mayhem. We must have spent about £30 on Bananas..and that was just for me, but we spent around 2 hours near the main entrance almost forgetting about the temple gardens we were also in. It only cost 20,000 IDR and is worth every penny (we went 3 times) and the gardens are awesome as well.

We tracked down a local tourist booth and decided to rent a car…much to the surprise of the locals and tourists alike, it seems scooters are the more popular but after constantly getting caught in the rain…we decided on a cheap car. And what an investment in the rainy season, we hired it for 2 weeks and cost about £14 per day and took it everywhere, so much easier than having to get taxi’s constantly. We were definitely enjoying life in Bali and there were lot’s of Dog’s again….when Megan finally clicked that she hadn’t seen any in Jakarta and Jogya… when I reminded her that they are very much on the menu in these places.

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We headed even further north, to the rice fields at Tegalalang which were impressive even in an overcast day before driving through the torrential floods up towards the volcanoes at Bromo. Unfortunately when driving up through the mountains it became apparent we were not going to see a thing so we had to turn back, but we did however get to stop off at a small natural Lagoon which overlooks the mountains (when you can actually see more than the bottom 10 feet of them). Disappointed but not yet defeated, I really wanted to visit a humane Kopi Luwak centre which are located in the North of Bali, and purchase some of the ridiculously overpriced coffee from them. For those that want to know more about Luwak coffee please click here.

We managed to find a beautiful Spa resort where the civet cats are not force fed or forced to live in cages for our pretentiousness. Apparently the place is one of the best Infinity pools in the world…. and we could see why, unfortunately (again) our view was restricted because of the stupid weather but it was pretty breathtaking. We treated ourselves to some food and purchased our (crap) coffee and cried in the car as we could never afford a night in this place, I even tried to eat the napkins just in case some food spilled onto it.

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We drove all around the eastern region of the island and made a couple trips south towards the tourist resorts before we packed up and headed there to stay. On our last night we dropped the car off on a torrential rainy day and picked up a couple tickets to see the local fire dance show at the nearby temple, unfortunately, when we all sat down in the open air setting there was no way that fire would prevail so we marched a few hundred metres down the road with the cast and sat in an old abandoned school.

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The story of Rama and Sita was pretty good and the guys done a brilliant job of it. It was only when leaving the show did we look at our watches and had completely lost track of time. It was the early hours of the morning, completely pouring down and we had just handed our wheels back (our new destination was an hour drive south). We took refuge in a restaurant nearby while we tried to hunt down a taxi but it was too late and too far away for most drivers so we took to the streets and i tried to sell myself. When that didn’t work we finally haggled a taxi to take us (for double the money a normal fare) but he pretty much had us over a barrel, compared to some of the figures quoted he was still pretty cheap.

Miss Megan certainly did not have the umbrella out with the tap dancing shoes swinging from the lampposts that night, but we got her to our Air bnb apartment in Kuta where we were staying for the next couple weeks safe and sound.

Apps to download for Bali: Bali Indonesia Free guide

Useful Phrases: Salamat (Hello) Terima Kasih (Thank you) Apa Kabar (How are you?)

Free stuff to do: Go a hike up the mountains – If you’re the adventurous type, Bali’s mountains are free to climb but the more gruelling ones such as Mount Agung (It’s about to erupt so maybe avoid it at the minute) and Batukaru, two of the island’s highest, usually require an acknowledgement or permit from the local village community organisation or the forestry department (for safety issues). Watch the Master craftsmen – Make your stop at any of Bali’s major art markets where you can find stall after stall of arts and crafts, curios of different shapes and sizes. Then consider how they are made. A visit to any of Bali’s artistic villages and communities of craftsmen, such as the Pakudui village in Tegallalang, or the gold and silversmith communities of Celuk and Mas, south of Ubud, can be eye-opening where you can see how woodcarvers shape intricate Garuda statues, or how silversmiths craft gemstones into their shiny and sophisticated jewellery pieces.

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