Ubud

Our last day in Bali!

We had ordered a driver again for the day which ended up being a different guy called Ady. He spoke excellent English so it was very easy to explain everything we wanted to do in the day. We left the hotel at 8am and Ady decided we didn't have any cultural activities on our list so he took us to see some traditional Balinese dancing. They certainly like to charge the tourists well as it cost us about 200,000 Rupiah ($20 NZD), probably the most expensive activity so far. The first thing I did was head to the bathroom because our hotel provides free breakfast and we like to drink an entire day's worth of orange juice seeing as you can't just drink tap water. Anyways the toilets were the worst I have seen so far, no toilet paper and completely filthy. They also had a bucket of water next to them with a cup I didn't even bother trying to work out what that was for and went back for some hand sanitiser ASAP. I vowed to use any clean toilet visible in the future even if it wasn't required at that moment! The dancing was interesting and was a story about two friends, a lion and a monkey who were attacked by three village men. The lion had killed one of the village men's child and he was seeking revenge. There was a lot more of the story but it started to get very confusing after act 1 and we lost the plot of the story. There was however a rather rude part of the story where they killed a boar and   then went about examining its penis and making rude gestures towards it!

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Yang Yang's silver was the next location - another cultural experience added to our list by Ady. We were shown how they handmade the jewellery using natural ingredients to bind it all together. They then led us into a large shop filled with any type of silver you can imagine with intricate details. One design that we noticed in some earrings and also in the Uluwatu temple was the swastika, a symbol we know to be associated with the Nazis. I knew it must not have had any relations to the Nazis for the Indonesians so I decided to ask one of the shop girls what it meant to them. Apparently it is an ancient Hindu symbol meaning sun and prosperity that has been around for decades before the Nazis stole it, mirrored it and used. Now for Westerners it is a symbol indicating racism, hatred and mass murder but is still widely used in Hiduism, Buddhism and also Jainism. Despite the jewellery being very cheap none of it caught our eye and we left empty handed. 

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Tealalang waterfall was the next destination due to a "Best things to do in Ubud" google search. However, we were incredibly disappointed with how overrun with tourists it was. Now, i realise we are in fact tourists ourselves, however the natural beauty of the area was lost, and felt like a bus stop. The worst thing was we became embarrassed by our generation as they swum in this filthy (rubbish everywhere) waterfall just to get that Instagram worthy photograph. We got a few photographs of what it was really like shown in the "gallery" of Lewis's photographs.. We are really starting to dislike Instagram, and it MUST be taken with a grain of salt.  Otherwise we were out of there pretty quick. But it was stinking hot and we had to climb up at least 50 stairs to get back to the car. The locals are very clever at setting up shop next to famous destinations and constantly hassling you to buy their items, fantastic enterpenurship.

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Ady then took us to the Kemenuh Butterfly Park which was a netted off area with beautiful gardens full of dozens of different species of butterflies. There was also an area where they were hatching them out of cocoons. You were able to hold hour old butterflies as they weren't strong enough to fly away whilst their wings were drying. Every day they hatch hundreds of butterflies to maintain the enclosure as they only last for 2-3 weeks. 

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After this fail of a Ubud experience our driver could tell we were exhausted and took us to the most amazing place for lunch overlooking some rice fields. It was called Kayun Organic Restaurant. We were the only people and got to sit right at the edge of a terrace with the warm breeze drying our sweat! Lew ate some traditional Balinese food for the first time (I had been eating it for breakfast at the hotel every morning - he couldn't quite stomach noodles and rice at that time of the day!) as we ordered the nasi gorang and mi gorang with some spring rolls as a starter. The special organic drinks they had were the star of the show though as the flavours were unlike anything we had every had. The only issues we were having was actually with the strong insence everywhere we went! The one at lunch was so intoxicating we felt a tad high off the smoke when we left. When we left there were a few other people in the restaurant and we weren't sure if they had left their driver outside or invited him in for lunch. We felt terrible that Ady was probably jut sitting outside in the car waiting for us. We decided he probably wouldn't want to eat at such a westernised place and planned to pay him an extra 100,000 Rupiah due to his excellent service. 

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A Lewak or Cavit cat

A Lewak or Cavit cat

After our previous disappointment with the tourist activities Ady suggested that despite having the Tegallalang rice terraces on our list perhaps instead we can drive 300m down the road to smaller rice terraces that are also part of the Bali Pulina Coffee Plantation. Here they make the famous Lewak coffee. If you haven't heard of this before it is the most expensive coffee around due to the way it is made. Animals called the Lewak which are shy nocturnal animals (or Cavit cat) that look a bit like a wild cat/possum eat the cherries off the coffee plant. When the Lewak poo's this is the coffee bean that is collected, washed, roasted and ta dah that is your coffee! In order for the poop to be collected they keep these animals in cages of two - one male and one female so they can mate and the babies are released out into the wild - however they continue to catch more as the popularity of the Lewak coffee grows. Lew and i werent impressed with the animal cruety just for coffee.

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Lew and are arn't coffee drinkers so we passed on the free samples and began exploring the wooden footpaths towards the bottom of the hill. Here we found a rock pool from a spring and a beautiful of the smaller rice terraces our driver spoke about. There was no one around and after asking one of the workers if it was ok Lew got the drone out. The worker hung around fascinated by all the technology and camera equipment we had. Once we had collected some shots we returned to the car.

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The trip back to Ubud took extra long as the Tegalalang rice terraces were extremely busy and there were many drivers parking in the NO PARK zone. This meant that it turned into a one lane road for two ways of traffic and a few dozen motorbikes. Surprisingly the drivers are very laid back and there certainly isn't any road rage. In fact despite the lack of  road rules they are actually very good drivers. Ok if you put them on a road in NZ it would be complete chaos - think about the worse Asian driver you have come across and multiply that by 10! but they patiently waited for the blockage to subside. They use their horn a lot more than we do in NZ. They toot at people or other vehicles next to them as they are passing, on blind corners and also at temples.

Ady drove us through Ubud township which would be the perfect place to hunt for anything for a new house if you wanted it to have a Balinese feel. They are incredibly good with their hands and their craftsmanship is on point. 

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The final destination was the famous Ubud monkey forest. Even if your not a fan of monkeys we would recommend a walk through the forest as the monkeys have the best environment to live in. Driving in there were tonnes of monkeys on the road and around the fences and it was the same when we got in. It cost us 50,000 Rupiah each ($5 NZD). Some of the braver (or stupid?) tourists were encouraging the monkeys to climb onto them with bananas etc. I was initially keen until I heard one tourist yelling at this cute little monkey on his arm to stop biting him. I wasn't so excited about potentially catching rabies. We got a bit lost as there were three entrances and we never took notice of what one we came in but we were in and out in about 1/2 an hour.  

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We drove all the way back to Uluwatu which took us about an hour total. Ady stopped off at a phone place in Jambaran so Lew could buy a phone card but we later discovered this wouldn't work despite asking multiple Indonesian people to help us. Ady dropped us back at the hotel and also contacted his uncle for us about a pick up from Lombok area tomorrow as we were flying there in the morning.

If you ever need driver in Bali we would really recommend Ady. He spoke the best English out of the three drivers we had and was knowledgable about the best things to do in the area. You could make a list yourself or he would be happy to decide the best day trip for you. He gave us a good insight on what it's like to be a local. He had two children 17 and 12. Neither him nor his family had ever left Indonesia and didn't have any plans to travel either. He said it is too hard for them as their money is worth so little everything is too expensive. We also discussed how expensive it was to go university so his 17 year old had no choice there. We drove us from 8 am until 6.30pm and he said he never had a particular day off. If there is work he works, especially at this time of year when it is tourist season. It just makes you appreciate the privileged life we have born into.

Anyways! Here is his card below if you are interested in using him. The usual cost for an all day driver in Bali is 500,000 rupia ($50 NZD) bit we did decide to give him an extra 100,00 tip on top of that. 

The plan tomorrow is to check out of the Le Grande, Uluwatu and fly to Lombok.

Shannen Kennedy