We caught a flight to Bali from Bandung airport, a very small but busy airport with very easy going security. We have been using lion air, a bit like easy jet for cheap flights, although I’m not sure why you would call your airline lion air as lions aren’t synonymous with flying.
The flight was only a couple of hours, but did provide an amazing birds eye view of a volcano in Bali.
Once we arrived we collected our bags and headed out of the airport where you are ‘greeted’ by lots of people offering you a taxi. If you ever fly to Bali don’t go with these as they are totally overpriced, instead keep on walking until you see a massive queue for the offical cabs which are about a third of the price. The wait was about 30mins but saved us at least £15.
We arrived at our home stay and were greeted by Ozzy Dave in a real nice house, the room was probably the nicest we have stayed in the whole trip. We could help ourselves to breakfast and coffee all for a mere £14 a night price tag. You never know what to expect with a home stay, it’s a bit like playing the lottery. Blue Lagoon Homestay however is a massive recommendation if you find yourself in Sanur, Bali. Great value, great location and very friendly family.
After chilling on the beach for a couple days in Sanur, we concluded that the beach here didn’t compare to the beaches in the Thai islands. They were really busy, not that clean and a lot of the beach front was taken up by big hotels, meaning you were left with not much to play with.
One thing Sanur did have to offer was a plethera of bars and restaurants with a majority of them with live music performances. We found ourselves in a Mexican restaurant taking advantage of the happy hour while watching the band and dancers perform. But what night wouldn’t be complete without a performance from Team MussMart. Katie (after a few pops) bolted for the dance floor while the performers danced. I (the supporting drunk’ish husband) had to follow. The dancers loved the fact we got up with them and after the performance had photos taken with us.
Sanur has a pretty cool night life, not to be compared with the party area of Katu which goes on all night, but good for us married folk who like the calmer side of partying. The bars and restaurants are all pretty pricy if you’re on a backpacker’s budget with meals costing about $15 dollars for the two of us. This in comparison with India, Thailand and Malaysia was not too sustainable.
We then headed to a town called Ubud, which is in central Bali, still very touristy but not at all resorty like Sanur. There is lots to do here.
Day one we hit up the Monkey Forest. Our trip has seen us mingle with many monkeys but the Monkey Forest definitely had the most. Essentially it’s a big park you can stroll around with monkeys everywhere. There were many breeds to see- not that I can really name any… other than old man monkey, sad monkey, baby monkey and of course angry monkey. Angry monkey took a shine to Katie trying to pull her skirt down and instead of helping her out I decided to catch it on camera.
Amongst the the monkeys and the forest there were some strange and slightly erotic statues around, my favourite (pictured below) i call “oh no is mum in the room”. The Monkey Forest cost around £2 each to get in and you can walk around for a good couple of hours, it’s well worth entrance fee.
Day 2 we had booked a hike up a volcano to see the sunrise. We got picked up at 2.30am to head to Mount Batur, about an hours drive away. When we arrived it was still pitch black, but armed with a torch, a few guides and many many other tourists we headed up. Initially we were walking on a gravel road with a gentle incline. This soon changed and we were slowly getting steeper and steeper, the road had changed to a rocky terrain. I wish I could have taken pictures for you all to see but with a torch in one hand and trying to keep my balance with the other, it wasn’t worth falling on my face- which we both nearly did many times. About 2hrs and 2 gallons of sweat later we reached the crater. Just in time for me to smoke a cigarette and then take in the romantic views with my lady as the sun rose. This is one of the best travel experiences we have done yet. When the sun was up we could safely explore the crater. Now this volcano isn’t a Hollywood volcano with lava bubbling away, instead you could see the natural steam emitting from the earth.
The walk down was actually quite hard too, legs feeling like jelly, and climbing down the rocky path. It was a bit touch and go at times but team MussMart got back safely. As part of the same tour we went to an organic coffee farm, where we sampled a number of coffees. The driver initially took us around for the quickest tour ever, which included pointing at a big fruit and saying “this is a big fruit”. Here we did get to see a Luwak, a strange animal similar to a mix of a cat, a rat and a dog. They eat the coffee berries, ferment & digest them and excrete them out whole. Sounds painful, but where there’s pain there is gain as the berries are then cleaned off to make a lovely cup of coffee which this farm called “pooberry”. Clever name.
The next day we walked around Ubud, which is full of interesting shops, markets and cafes. We did hit up the Water Palace. You can’t go in but looks pretty impressive from the outside. The next day we got some supplies from the supermarket and headed off to the Campuhan Ridge Walk for a picnic.
The walk stretches over 6km and again has some breath taking views. Most of all the rice paddy fields. They go on and on and on, which isn’t surprising as most meals here are served with rice! Never really thought about the production of rice but you need land and lots of it. Funnily enough with all the fields you only ever see one or two workers harvesting and maintaining the crops. The walk was mainly uphill (they always are) but no where near as hard as the volcano. After about 3km we stopped, ate some hummus (which Katie was very excited about) and headed back to our little bungalow for a rest and to plan our next leg of the trip.
We did quite a bit more, but these are by far the highlights. Check back in a few days time for a post by Katie about the social and ethical side of Ubud. Can’t recommend Ubud enough, it’s well worth the trek and a nice change from the beach.
Some more photos
Until next time…
Stephen and Katie