Tuesday was such a long and busy day that I didn’t have the energy to write at the end of it. I did, however, make a little note to myself about all of the things we saw and experienced so that I wouldn’t forget a bit of it. I’m on vacation mode so it took me a few days to get all of this stuff down… this post will be looooooong, so sit back with your favourite beverage and kick up your feet!

We actually had to wake the kids up on Tuesday morning to make sure that we got out on time. This generally goes against one of our vacation principles (which is sleep in and move around slowly in the morning). We grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed off the resort to meet our driver for the day; we pretty much put the itinerary in his hands and let him take us wherever he deemed appropriate.

bali danceFirst stop – a traditional Balinese dance. It wasn’t so much a dance as it was a play with dancing and hijinks. The crowd was mostly Indonesians from other islands (there was a huge school trip from Jakarta) and a sprinkling of pale English speaking people like ourselves. The play was in Indonesian so we didn’t understand too much of it aside from when they wielded machetes and pretended to kill a monkey and then do some inappropriate things to it. The fascination with hitting each other in the crotch was a bit odd, but the crowd loved it! The “Barong and Kris Dance” was described in English as ‘an eternal fight between good and evil spirits’ – it was a tad strange and really stuffy in there so we snuck out about ¾ of the way through and continued on our way.

Next stop was a Batik shop (Batik is a traditional way of dyeing cloth that is very popular here in Indonesia). We watched them apply wax to material and it was very complicated, delicate, and all done free hand. We poked around in the store for a few minutes but it wasn’t really our style and so off we went again. Our driver quickly realized that we weren’t the lingering type…

wood hippoOn we went to an impressive wood workshop and store. Our guide was very informative and explained the process of carving, polishing, dyeing and cleaning the items made on-site. We watched some men carve for a while and then explored the store. They had some absolutely gorgeous tables and chairs carved out of single pieces of wood, as well as many statues and art pieces. Jeff and I were particularly enamoured with huge tables made of single slices of wood that reminded us of a cool bar we went to in New Zealand many years ago. There were a lot of really nice items, and eventually Julia parted with some of her souvenir money for a little Buddha carved out of local Balinese crocodile wood.

After a bit more driving we arrived at a coffee plantation where we had to try the much touted Kopi poop coffeeLuwak – coffee brewed from beans that have travelled the digestive tract of the Asian palm civet. These dudes eat the bean pods off the trees and then poop them out after which it is collected, washed (!!), and roasted. We also had a taste test of many of the other products grown there (lemongrass tea was the biggest hit with our girls) and came away fully caffeinated. The kids were horrified that we drank the poop coffee, but you can’t go there without at least giving it a try. It was actually quite tasty, and you would never know it was shitty coffee. ;)

By this time we were getting quite hungry, and lunch was at a restaurant with a beautiful view of the Batur Volcano. volcanoWe sat out on the terrace and witnessed crazy weather fluctuations that changed the view every 10 minutes. It went from cloudy to torrential downpour to intense fog to blue sky and sunshine! Gorgeous. I don’t think you could plan for something like that and we were so fortunate to experience it. Plus, the food was delicious! We had an Indonesian lunch buffet with satay, bami goring, nasi goring, spring rolls, and the much delightful krupuk. Plus Julia got the young coconut that she’s been antsy for since our arrival here in Bali. Perfection! It was a tad touristy, but then again we are tourists. Ladies flocked Jeff as we left the restaurant and they really wanted him to buy their giant t-shirts that said BALI. A security guard actually had to swat them away as I swear they were going to climb in to the car with us. Quite interesting.

scootersI have no idea how many kilometres we had travelled by this point, but it felt like we were doing the Grand Tour of Bali, and the day was only half over! I forgot to mention how the whole time I was mesmerized by the view out the window… it seemed like everyone was selling something out of the front of their houses; cool drinks, stacks of durian fruit, a bowl of spring rolls, old whiskey bottles full of petrol for scooters, blankets, or plastic flip flops. The houses were pretty standard two room buildings with concrete walls, and yet all the school children had very clean uniforms and looked very put together. They walked home at very young ages across roads with a gazillion scooters and cars, or drove their own scooters with friends on the back and they looked about 12 years old! I also saw a young mother holding a baby on her lap with one arm while driving her scooter with the other…. Safety rules are obviously different here, although the mother was wearing a helmet which I guess is prudent. Yikes.

rice terracesScooter safety aside, we next arrived at the famous rice paddies of Tegallalang. They use the traditional subak form of irrigation and it truly is majestic. It cost a lowly $2 for our family to be able to walk around, and if we had desired we could’ve walked right down in to the paddies. We got close enough to see how the rice grows, but we were all getting a bit tired by this point and didn’t have the desire to go on a paddy-hike. Instead we perused a few souvenirs and then climbed back in the car for one more must-see before heading home.

Well, we saved the best for last… the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. Wow, this place is serious!! You are asked to leave all plastic items in the car and not hide any snacks in your pockets. There are literally monkeys everywhere, and they leave you alone unless you wave a banana at them. We did not do anything to draw monkeys to us as Julia was pretty freaked out by them and their antics. monkeyIt was really cool, and we saw a mother with her baby clinging to her (which was really cute!) as well as watched a monkey show us how to efficiently peel and eat a banana. It’s a sanctuary for research and conservation and there are many workers around making sure that people are behaving appropriately. I’m so glad we saw them because it is definitely something that I don’t see in my regular life!

By then we were all exhausted and started the journey back to the hotel. It was Balinese rush hour by then and it took close to an hour to get back. The kids were dying to go swimming so they took a quick dip before we went for a delicious Japanese buffet dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. It was so good and cooked right to order, and we all stuffed ourselves with sushi, soba, tempura, teppanyaki, salads, soups and desserts. Super yum.   We all tried to tough it out listening to the great singers in the lobby bar, but exhaustion had hit us all and we called it an early night. What a day!!


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