Our last morning in Ubud, we decided to rent a scooter [I guess getting back from Rinca yesterday made us once again yearn for the air in our faces]. We rented a scooter from our home away from homes, Swasti Eco Lodge. We dawned our helmets and headed out for the open road. We cruised through the city and out into the great unknown– enjoying the temples and rice fields flying by us past scooters weighed down with goods and children hiking to school and women and men working through the day. We road and road, knowing we were on a time schedule, because we had a ferry to catch later on… we were heading to our last portion of the trip, Nusa Lembongan. Sigh. What a trip.
Cruising along, everything was going well until it wasn’t. One of our tires deflated completely— a flat tire. Something we were used to after getting them in Costa Rica [multiple times]. Such is life I suppose. We pulled over not sure what to do. There was a doctor’s office across the street that Andrew decided to check out. About 10 minutes later, a woman in pink scrubs came out, hopped on a scooter, and rode away. Andrew came over indicating that he had tried to explain in Indonesian [what little we knew] that we had a flight and needed a tow to a shop. The woman returned about 20 minutes later shaking her head– there was no gas station or shop that way. About 5 or so minutes later, a pick up truck pulled up– apparently the nurse’s brother or friend or maybe that was lost in translation and these people didn’t know each other at all. All I know, is that for some sum of money, they offered to tie our bike up in their truck and drive us back to Ubud. Four guys easily lifted the bike and tied it up in the bed. I hopped in the back, Andrew hopped in the front and we took off. A few miles down the road, we did see a mechanic and Andrew said they could leave us there– they asked if we were sure and said that we had paid them more than enough for the ride all the way back to Ubud, but we shook our heads. They had done their deed for the day. We thanked them profusely and they helped us unload our bike and talk to the mechanic. They offered us a seat and some cold water and said it would be about 30 minutes or so. We relaxed and laughed at ourselves– how do we get into these situations? All we knew is that we had to get back and make decent time so we could return the scooter, pack, and catch the ride to the ferry. The mechanic was quick to fix the bike and I think the total was about $5 or so [American]. Andrew paid him more and made a very happy Indonesian friend.
We made our way back to Ubud and grabbed lunch at a Mexican place that we happen to love– knowing we were really low on petrol, we figured we’d just find some after lunch– there are always stands around. After lunch, we searched and searched but found no petrol. After speaking with a few folks, we learned that Ubud doesn’t really sell petrol because it’s typically tourists who don’t have cars. Lol. Naturally. After much more searching, Andrew found a place at one end of town. Somehow, we managed to get the petrol, put it in the tank, make it back to Swasti, pack-up, check out, and make the bus to the ferry… as they put it, it all works out in the end…
Well, we had originally planned on hiking up Mount Agung [where the gods live], however there was a private burial occurring and as such, hikers were not allowed up there the day we planned, so instead, Swasti suggested we do a sunrise hike up Mount Batur- it was a bit easier they said and we could leave at 3AM instead of Midnight [the time you had to leave to get up Mount Agung to see the sunrise]. In retrospect- Oh my god. I am so GLAD we did NOT hike Mount Agung…. especially if Mount Batur was “easier”. Mount Batur was like straight up a volcano. It was crazy– but a lot of fun and I’m glad we did it! A Swasti guard on duty overnight packed us breakfast sandwiches in the morning and sent us on our way. We were picked up at Swasti around 3AM or so. We picked up two other folks on the way. We drove for about an hour and then arrived in a parking lot that was pretty packed with other people waiting to hike. As it turns out, the hike up Mount Batur is basically a never-ending chain of groups working their way up the volcano by flashlight. Your guide carries water and breakfast/snacks with him. We made our way up the volcano– admittedly, slower than I probably would have liked, but I was out of breath most of the way up so really I’m just glad we made it up. We did- made it in time to sit for a few before the sunrise began and was it ever worth it. There was also a woman up there in a little shed who was selling coffee and food– apparently she hikes up every morning with everything- water, coffee, and all other supplies… just to try and sell to the people who come for the sunrise. As we sat taking pictures of the beauty before us, naturally a few curious monkeys came along out of nowhere. They ended up with one of our eggs and some toast. Pesky little things. As far as recommended tour guides for the trek- really any will do… you can typically just line them up through your hotel/eco-lodge, etc. We set ours up the day before. Easy peasy.
On the way back to Swasti from the sunrise trek, we stopped by a tea and coffee plantation for tastings and we bought some coffee for the road. Yum! The best part was we still had the afternoon in Ubud to relax. The next morning we were heading out yet again– but this time to a different island for an overnight- 1 night, 2 day excursion- mostly built around seeing Komodo Dragons in the wild [they’re my favorite besides Manatees]! Anyway we walked into town again and relaxed– found a place to grab some lunch and it was so awesome. We were sitting outside in gorgeous weather and right next door is a rice field. How cool is that? I told you they put rice fields everywhere they can! I had a traditional Balinese dish with yellow rice, chicken, and veggies, while Andrew opted for the pizza. We also dined on pretty heavenly drinks, including passionfruit mojitos and lemongrass jubilees. For a country that’s not big on drinking, they sure do have some amazing drinks!
Before we depart from this post, we wanted to share some pictures of Swasti Eco Lodge, our home base in Ubud. Delightfully wonderful place hidden away just outside of town. It was perfect.
Tags: bali, food, hiking, monkeys, Mount Agung, Mount Batur, rice field, sunrise, Swasti, tour, trekking, Ubud
Our next stop on the trip was Ubud, but first, a few more pictures of A Village Above the Clouds:
From Village Above the Clouds, we headed to Ubud… another touristy place mostly made famous by eat, pray, love. It was known to have all sorts of cuisines and cultural and artsy trinkets– the best place to get souvenirs. Ubud was going to serve as our base for the last part of our trip… it was supposed to be really cool…and it was. We loved it and could have easily spent 2 weeks there alone. This first day, we just wanted to see the downtown area, so after being dropped at Swasti Eco Lodge [another stellar hotel– more on it later], we started our walk into town, only to get sidetracked by the ever massive “Monkey Forest”. Naturally, we had to take a look. I have. never. seen. that. many. monkeys. in. my. life. There were so many monkeys! Seriously— tons of them. They were very handsy– one of them kept trying to put its hand in my purse. The forest is a really big place and there are a number of temples within it as well. We walked down to a water-related temple that was known in the tourist world as the Indiana Jones Temple- surrounded by trees and water, you have to hiked down a bridge of steps. There are monkeys and statues… you know the drill. Very cool and very worth the trip. A warning though– if you go to Monkey Forest, don’t pick up the old pieces of banana from the ground and hand them to a monkey– chances are that if it’s on the ground, they already rejected it for a reason. I made the mistake of picking up 1/2 a banana and holding it out to a monkey who bit into it and then proceeded to charge me with his teeth hanging out.
After taking copious amounts of Monkey pictures, we worked our way towards the exit of monkey forest, where we came upon the preparations for a cremation. Remember my post about the importance and tradition of cremations, offerings, and death ceremonies? Well, this was the day before the event- tons of people were around and setting things up for the event. We spoke with a few locals during our time to understand the whole process. As it turns out, giant wood carvings of lions and horses are created to carry each body to the cremation. The entire carving is lit on fire and cremated and then the ashes are moved again into a smaller ceremonial temple of sorts. Additionally, large cremations only happen every so often, so this cremation was to involve many many bodies. The colors were bright and people seemed generally happy– they were naturally, celebrating lives and through a rich cultural tradition. This particular cremation was not open to the public, so we did not get a chance to watch. Additionally, we had plans to hike Mount Batur the next morning for sunrise! We walked around town as well just for a few minutes, before heading back to Swasti to prep for our 3AM wake up call.
Tags: burial, cremation, culture, eco lodge, markets, monkey forest, monkeys, Swasti, tourism, tourist, Ubud