Ever since the book and movie “Eat, pray and Love” were released, a trip to Bali, climb very up in my “bucket-list”.
I considered myself super lucky to have incidentally landed onboard a luxury ship, visiting Italy, India and then having three days in Bali, just a week before my holiday was scheduled to begin, from another city I already wrote about – Singapore.
I have read so much about Bali before I visited it and I felt in love with it, long before I actually did it.
My only concerns were the facts, that I planned so many activities and at the same time I wasn’t on a holiday yet, so I had to still do my duties onboard and do what I wanted to do in the little breaks given in between apart of the last day.
The ship was docked at the port of Benoa, nearly 10 km away from the biggest city Denpassar, around 16 km from the Kuta area and 45 km from Ubud ( where the Eat, Pray, Love was filmed ;-).
During the first two days, I managed to visit the Kuta beach twice – during the day and in the evening, and even though it does has some nice sights and places to see, it didn’t impress me much. Some places did scare me to go further , so I stayed close to the really nice central area, with the many many shops, restaurants and temples build in traditional Bali style. I did visit a small Spa. Unfortunately, it was not possible to do the famous banana hair treatment, but I save this procedure for the next time, when I visit the island.
Night life in Bali was also promising with many, many restaurants, serving international and local cuisine, night clubs from the quality of those one in Ibiza, Dubai, London, New York etc.
Another thing I love about Bali, is that this is а great fusion between cultures ( Balinese living together with the high number of people, coming from all over the world), traditional and modern ( from modern shopping centers to temples, from high fashion stores to made it in Bali) , quit or noisy, whatever you like, Bali has it already.
The day for the private tour was set during our last one in Bali. The driver was organize with the assistance of a good friend of mine and the only way to see what was set, was to leave as early as possible from the port. The scary hour to begin the mini tour was 6:00 am sharp. Honestly, as difficult, as it is to wake up that early in the morning ( 5:00 am in order to get myself ready), the motivation and excitement kept me energized during the day and even until now.
When driving the way to Denpassar ( main city in Bali), where I did research, what I might be interested to see, my friend and our driver, named Ketut, did prove me wrong, so we only stop on Puputan Square to see the magnificent temple and we drove further to Ubud.
It was a pleasure having the sun just now coming up, the air outside – still so crispy and fresh, the roads were tiny but already with motorcyclist on it and the scenery varied – from volcanic hills and rice terraces, from both of the sides of the roads there were more temples and local markets, selling everything from wooden furniture to statues for your home or garden.
Just before entering Ubud, Ketut, suggested to stop near the monkey forest – a sacred forest full of ravenous monkeys. Lucky us, the cheerful monkeys were more occupied in biting some fruits, they find on the street than bothering with us.
In Ubud, we were able to leave the car,right in front of the Palace of Ubud or Puri Saren, nicely located in the center of the town with the entrance of the art and craft market nearby.
There was no entrance fee and no other visitors that early, so we enjoy it a lot.
Just on the right side of the Palace, situated on the main street , I saw the The “ Lotus Café”, overlooking the lotus pond and the Pura Saraswati, where at first I meant to have our coffee, but my friend Narsi had another one in mind.
After the photo session in the yeard of Lotus Cafe, Narsi took me to her favorite cafe in Ubud called – the Seniman Café. I seriously felt in love its unique decor, music, the taste of the coffee ( strong, but a bit sweet). The coffee was served in a wooden paddle with a glass of water and a small Balinese cake or sweet delight covered in banana leaf… Simply delicious. About the breakfast, I won’t even mentioning, in case some of you feeling hungry, but yes, the fresh omelette was also served in a banana leaf…
Next, in the list was the visit of the art and craft market, where Javier Bardem walked with Julia Roberts 🙂 I didn’t miss a chance of bringing home jewelry, a beautiful painting and a lovely Balinese dress.
Enjoying Ubud was followed by the visit of the rice terraces, passing though the artsy villages and many road galleries.
Last before driving back to the port, was the visit in Komune Resort, Ubud area, an exotic designed with a magical location fronting world- class surfing breaks. Enjoying the scenery and the skills of the surfers looking like born in the ocean, one- too -many cocktails and lovely lunch near the swimming pool, it almost felt like being on a holiday.
Driving back to the port of Benoa, I was thinking about, how happy the inhabitants of the island were looking like, thanks to all – the beaches, volcanoes, terraced rice fields, forests, renowned resorts, surfing, golf and world – class dive sites, the Balinese traditions and the people dedicating in celebrating it. Somewhere I read, that “the hundreds of temples, dances, rituals and crafts linked to the ancient Hindu faith aren’t show for tourist, but a living, breathing culture in which visitors are warmly received by the Balinese, who cherish their own identities”.
What is left behind my short visit, is the plan to re-visit Bali very soon again…