We travelled from the pier at Sanur into Bali’s interior to the town of Ubud. Ubud is home to some of Bali’s most famous landscapes, rainforests and terraced rice paddies, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines. It is, in fact, fourteen villages, each run by its own Banjar (villaging committee). Ubud was once a small, undeveloped village but is now a booming tourist centre made famous by the 2010 release of Eat, Pray, Love. Travellers flock here in search of yoga retreats, meditation classes, art and cooking classes. It’s become a sprawl of luxury hotels, restaurants, retreats and souvenir shops. For me, Ubud’s beauty lies in its surrounding areas of farmland and rice terraces. It is peaceful, lush and the locals are extremely friendly. We walked through rice paddies, visited Tegenungan waterfall and visited a water temple which was a pleasant experience.
Our homestay, Casa D’Sami was an absolute hidden gem in the outskirts of Ubud. Sami is a wonderful man who spent many years working in Bari, Italy, at a resort as a waiter. He opened his own homestay a few years ago and is helped by his genuinely, kind family who you can chat with about lots of things! Casa d’Sami has a real homely feel with its clean, airy rooms and lovely garden and pool area. They also serve up amazing chocolate and banana pancakes for breakfast.
Another highlight of our stay was the local warungs. We ate at one in particular, Warung d’Carik. It had bamboo tables elevated on top of a rice paddy. The wildlife at dusk right in front of your table and the excellent, inexpensive food made this a great dining experience. We looked at the offline maps app, maps.me, and realised we were actually fifteen kilometres away from our homestay in the surrounding countryside…by the time we left, our batteries had died and we had no map. Miz managed to somehow get us back to our homestay in the pitch black with her excellent photographic memory.
Other highlights were the beautiful tegalalang rice terraces which you could walk through and capture hundreds of shades of green. The local rice farmers have rigged up a swing between two huge coconut trees which you can take a swing on for 50,000 Rupiah (£2.50) and have an amazing birds eye view of the paddies.
We also visited Tirta Empul Tampak Sirig which is a holy spring water temple. The temple has spring water spouting from a dozen showers being used as holy water for religious ceremonies for Hindu people. Tourists can come here to spiritually cleanse themselves and receive the same blessings. It really is pretty beautiful, but it was absolutely packed to the rafters with tourists and a maze of never ending market stalls on the way out did slightly sour the experience.
In the evening, we took a sunset stroll along the Campuan Ridge Walk, which is a paved track running for three kilometres above the jungle just outside of Ubud. It’s a lovely experience and is great to have a refreshing drink at the end of the route overlooking the vast expanses of rice paddies at dusk.
We had enjoyed Ubud and especially the outstanding Casa d’Sami homestay, a definite must for any of you thinking of visiting here. The next morning, we headed out of Ubud and up to the lesser known mountain village of Munduk. We had wanted to get off the beaten track in Bali and this was the right place. As we drove higher into the clouds, the air cooled. We passed farms growing potatoes, onions and cauliflower. Stalls selling strawberries and vast areas covered in deep blue hydrangeas. It felt like North Wales, especially when the cloud covered the mountain road, with misty drizzle covering the windscreen. As we arrived in the tiny village, the cloud broke and scenic views stretched as far as the eye could see. Our homestay was called Aris. It was basic, very clean and had a small terrace overlooking the forest. The family who ran the place were very friendly and brought us a hot cup of tea and some fruit. With the cooler weather, a hot cup of tea and both of us throwing a jumper on, we felt right at home!
We met a guy named Made (pronounced Mad-ay) who ran the warung above the homestay and he said he would take us trekking the next morning. We agreed and rose early to walk through the mountains to a series of huge waterfalls. Our guide Made was a real comedian, he would stop every hundred yards and tell us he had forgotten the way and then burst out laughing saying he was only joking. We got to know him really well, how the locals lived and about all of the plants and foods you could find in the forest. The waterfalls were magnificent and very powerful so it was not possible to swim. We spent the afternoon relaxing at the homestay taking in the views and playing snap with the owners three young sons. Munduk had been lovely; especially the fresh, cooler mountain air which was a real treat after weeks of hot and humid conditions.
It’s now time to head back to Amed on the northern coast of Bali before we head to Gili Air and Lombok.
We hope you enjoy the blog…next one coming soon! xxx