In Love – Visiting Bali – Part II
This is a trip report of our recent Bali vacation. To read Part I or (Day 1,2 and 3) of the trip report, click here.
After 3 fabulous days in Bali, on day 4, we decided to take things slow. We started the day with a couple’s massage in a private cabana overlooking the pool and the forest. Bali is famous for its spa treatments and all tour books are filled with suggestions of various itineraries that combine tourism and spa journeys. A 2 hour luxurious massage and facial later, arranged by the resort, we were thoroughly relaxed.
The staff baby sat Varun while we enjoyed the massage. Many a Bali resorts have option of providing baby sitting services by the hour or day. For $25/day, you can hire your private nanny – usually a young girl, who will take care of the baby per your directions. 24-hour notice is usually required but as the staff was free, they volunteered to take care of Varun :). Through out the massage, I could hear Varun’s squeals of laughter as he was enjoying all the attention he was getting.
After the massage, we decided to go into Ubud town for lunch. Before leaving, I had read about an organic Warung style restaurant overlooking the rice fields, Sari Organic, which we were very keen on trying. We asked the resort staff to drop us at the restaurant.
When we reached there, we found out that the car cannot go up to the restaurant and instead its a 800 mt walk from the drop off location to the restaurant. Luckily, we had Varun’s stroller with us and we strapped him in and started off.
The walk started on a paved road, but soon turned into a little road winding through paddy fields and coconut trees along side a bubbling stream. Clumps of arum leaves were bobbing in the light mid day breeze while ducks wadded along sight navigating us to the restaurant. The quiet walk in the cool breeze helped Varun doze off. 20 mins later, we reached Sari Organic and sat in a corner seat overlooking the rice fields.
With Varun napping, we made most of the lunch – cocktails, appetizers and a lovely modern Balinese meal of chicken sate, fried rice, stir fried beans and fresh salad from their own gardens. The place was crowded despite the late hour and we had a long leisurely lunch as everything is prepped from scratch.
Varun woke up by the time, we were ready for dessert and enjoyed the dessert as much as the restaurants dog, who he chased around. The walk back was a bit of a challenge after this lovely meal, but we somehow managed it with Varun staying put in the stroller all along.
Next stop, was Ubud market to buy some coffee, black rice and a few souvenirs. On the way,we saw the beautifully decorated Ubud Museum, people bathing in Ubud river, the Lotus pond place and another quintessential Balinese sight – daily offerings.
En-route we stopped to have ice-cream. After all, what good are vacations, if we don’t indulge. Varun loves ice cream and it was awesome to just plop ourselves down in a street side with Varun and feed each other scoops of ice-cream. Some think of letting toddlers eat by themselves as messy, I think of it is as memories. Memories of those stained hands, clothes and face in afternoon sun as he shoves ice cream in his mouth and then in Vipul’s mouth , saying ‘Dadda turn’ will never fade.
After ice cream, we continued to Monkey forest road ,the main shopping lane in Ubud, which ends in a Monkey forest with pretty aggressive monkeys. the road is lined with beautiful silver and batik boutiques, cafes, restaurants and have many by lanes with houses offering home stays. We shopped a bit and then ventured inside Ubud’s main market with its little Elco-arcade or Chandi Chowk like shops full of spices, souvenirs, wood carvings, paintings, sarongs etc . Varun hates shopping as much as Vipul and both got restless in the narrow lanes and we quickly left the market to continue walking along Monkey Forest Road –
We contemplated going to the Monkey forest, but having heard stories of their aggressiveness, we didn’t want to risk Varun getting bitten by one. Also, it started to rain, so we ducked inside another store to buy some wood carved frames and then headed to a Starbucks for coffee.
Fortified with coffee and cheese Quiche, Vipul and I tried the fish spa pedicure. Little tanks of fishes which nibble on dead skin on your feet promising glowing feet at the end of it. 25 mins of fish pedicure cost us about $15 . As usual, the staff entertained Varun while we sat with our feet stuck in the fish tanks. Passer by’s and fellow tourists made quick conversation with us asking us about the pedicure and whether it was painful. Some were amused, other intrigued enough to try it out themselves. This was more of a been there, done that, similar to our Submarine tour in Barbados, and is something we wont try again.
Anyways, after the fish spa we caught a taxi back home. We had dinner at the resort – Soto Ayam, Fried chicken and Tomato Sambal followed by banana sundae. I requested the chef to let me watch him cook, which he obliged and it was awesome to pick up a couple of new techniques and recipes. The other staff played with Varun, while Vipul relaxed in the room.
Dinner was served in the main dinning room – which had a fabulous Ikat table runner. the meal was simple and nourishing and I was glad to own the recipe and try that at home once we move into our apartment.
Post dinner, Varun and Vipul read books while I went to bed.
There were few options that we were contemplating for day 5. Start early and go on a all day snorkel trip to a nearby island, drive north to Ulun Danu- a Shiva temple of shores of Lake Beratan and visit Bali’s main fruit and vegetables market, drive west to the Cliff temple of Uluwatu or visit Semiyank.
We decided to start the day with Ulun Danu and then continue to Uluwantu and finish the day with dinner at Semiyank.
The drive from Ubud to Ulun Danu, goes through some small villages, before hitting the Bali country side. It passes through the prime agricultural areas and we could see farms of fruits and vegetables all along the road. This is also the agro- tourism highway and many a farms are open for tours and buying fresh fruits, coffee and spices. The air grew cooler as we drove north and we saw many strawberry farms along the way. We reached the temple complex just before lunch time.
The mountains and the lake Beratan has low clouds and the black rock temple looked magnificent against the misty backdrop. Varun had a ball running around the temple grounds and chasing the driver’s son. He was looking for fish in the lake water as he had grown accustomed to seeing koi fish in all ponds that we had seen so far, but didnt find any.
Soon after, we stopped at a local buffet place for lunch. While the place itself was nothing to write home about, its location on banks of Lake Beratan was perfect. After lunch, we drove to Bali’s wholesale fruits and vegetables market. It was similar to a ‘saabji mandi’ in India or Pike Place Market in Seattle. After stocking on fruits like rambutan and strawberries which Varun took a fancy to, we drove to Uluwantu.
The drive was through farms and terraced plantations. We stopped en-route at Jatiluwih terraced rice fields. This is a very famous ‘patel point’ in West Bali and most photographed rice fields in Bali. There are restaurants around here to linger over lunch or coffee and savor the views.
We didn’t wait here but instead drove further west to Uluwatu. On the way, we stopped at a ‘friendly’ monkey forest. Varun loved seeing the monkeys but didnt get down from my arms or try and touch them as I expected.
We reached the Uluwatu temple way before sunset and the temple complex was full of people waiting to find a spot to view the sunset. There was a separate line for people waiting to wade across to the rock that housed the temple.
Vipul and I were in no mood for crowds and left the complex without visiting the temple or watching the sunset. Varun was also happy to leave the crowds behind. But before we left, we had a refreshing glass of sugarcane juice- very similar to Indian sugarcane juice with lemon 🙂
We decided to abort our Semiyank plans and drove back to Ubud. In Ubud, we had dinner at Indus Cafe – great location, good food and supposedly great views during daytime 🙂
After dinner, we drove back to the resort.
Now, Bali is famous for aromatic flower baths. They usually are complimentary with spa journeys but have to be requested. We didn’t know that and didn’t get one after our massage. But not wanting to miss out on luxurious once in – a-lifetime experience, I had asked the resort to arrange one for us for our last night stay in Bali.
They misunderstood my ask, and we came back to this:
Needless to add, we made the most of it while the staff entertained Varun.
Day 6 started late as we slept really late the previous night. and we had packing to do. After breakfast, Vipul played with Varun while I packed. That morning flew by and next thing I remember is loading our bags in the taxi. An hour or so later, we were at the airport.
Bali is one of those countries that have the annoying practise of departure tax. Vipul struggled to find an ATM to withdraw cash to pay it. Post immigration and security, we found ourselves sitting at a cafe for lunch.
As Varun played with the stroller, we realised this was first vacation which Varun enjoyed and didn’t need a doctors visit. We were very careful with water, food, restaurants we selected, avoiding crowded places and using a mosquito repellant. As we adjust to India, hopefully we will be able to handle other SE Asian countries better.