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Friday, April 13, 2012

Whistle stop Tour of Bali

Last Tuesday we headed for mainland bali, a town 30 miles inland called Ubud. This was meant to be a look at the real Bali and how the Balinese people lived. As sad as we were to be leaving the island of Lembongan we were looking forward to Ubud. Unlike South East Asia Bali doesn’t offer the cheaper than taxi Tuk tuk, so we had to make our way to the guesthouse on the back of a motorbike. This would normally be an easy trip but as we had 2 big backpacks and 2 rucsacks and a Cath Kidston bag used for smelly dirty laundry, this was a 2 trip job. Miss Alex went first with her backpack on and her day bag. Very relieved and impressed when the driver came back for me as it meant miss Alex was safely waiting for me at the guesthouse. My bag weighs 20kg plus my rucsack weighing 7kg and the Cath Kidston full to the brim with smelly washing, must easily have weighed 5kg. Using only my legs to balance on the bike this was a tough 5 minute ride, at one point I contemplated rolling off the back of the bike and giving in, as my backpack would have taken the heavy impact of the fall. It really was an endurance test but somehow I managed to make it to miss Alex. Once settled into the guesthouse we took our usual investigative walk around to orientate ourselves, and get some lunch.
That evening we went to a traditional Bali dance. Imagine the big theatrical Demon costumes and the ladies dancing. It was all spoken in Balinese which is ok, as it was a traditional Balinese dance but there was 2 characters on stage all the way through who played the part of narrators, with the whole audience not understanding a word they spoke. They also looked like a pantomime act. Think the chuckle brothers in Aladdin costumes and you’d have a very good picture in your mind. Not quite sure what the morale of the story was meant to be as in the end, the Demon had fought off and killed the 7 warriors sent to save bali.
The next day we took a tour in our very own private taxi which would finish and drop us off in Jimbarran. Where we’d meet miss Alex’s parents the following day. The tour covered 5 temples, a coffee platation,  amountain view of a volcano and rice fields.
First stop was an ancient temple called elephant temple. Once we arrived our tour guide kindly informed us we’d both have to wear sarongs. I was not impressed, I had the picture of David Beckham all them years ago looking like a right muppet in a sarong. Needless to say we didn’t have sarongs on us to wear, but in the car park of the temple there just happened to be a dozen market stalls all selling sarongs. Miss Alex asked the driver if we could borrow one from the ticket office, yes that’s right we had to pay as entrance fees was not included on the tour, another thing we found out after we’d booked the tour. We managed to scavenge a couple of sarongs and headed to the temple. I honestly have not got much to say about the actual temple other than it was ok. We headed back to the driver unimpressed and told him “no more temples” this meant a much shorter day but after 5 months of temples I am well and truly templed out.
Next stop on our whistle stop tour was a coffee plantation. 6 little complementary cups of coffee and tea waited for us. All grown on made off the plantation. There was Bali coffee, Ginsing coffee, Cocoa, lemongrass tea, Ginger tea and one other that couldn’t have made a big impression as miss Alex and I have both forgotten what it was. Also as an optional extra to purchase we could try Luwak Coffee. Luwak coffee is made by feeding the Luwak coffee beans. A luwak is a little animal. You don’t have to be brilliant at biology to remember what goes in the mouth comes out the …………….. Once it comes out the other end of the Luwak looking like a nutritious nutty cereal bar, it is then slowly roasted and ground down. The procedure of making the coffee is the same, teaspoon of coffee and hot hot water, splash of milk and it tasted great!!! Luwak coffee actually sells in London for £50 a bag. Now this is not some really big bag like a sack of cement, this is your normal sized bag of coffee.
Next stop was Mount Batur. It last erupted in 1994, and the landscape is still covered in a blanket of black. The view looking over to mount Batur was stunning. The biggest lake in Bali sitting at the bottom of the mountain. There is a sunrise tour up the mountain that we plan to do if we ever come back to Bali. This would be an amazing sight, overlooking the south of bali and the surrounding mountain ranges. We also had to pay for the privilege of driving through but the money was well worth paying.
Our last stop was a stop at some Rice Paddies. These look like giant green steps in the hillside. Another brilliant sight and some great pickies taken here. If your not sure what rice paddies look like, google image them after reading this. Just as miss Alex and I were about to get back in the car a bloke in uniform hit us with another entrance fee, just for simply parking the car on the side of the road and taking a couple of pictures. There seems to be entrance fees all over the place in Bali, even on roads leading down to beaches.
Miss Alex’s parents arrived on Thursday and we look forward to couple of fun weeks spent with them, chilling out before we hit Australia.

Speak soon xxx

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