A popular holiday destination in Indonesia, Bali offers a diverse assortment of activities and landscapes. You have the beautiful, azure blue beaches, as well as the lush, scenic green forests.
It wasn’t really on my travel list surprisingly, until a friend coerced me into visiting this most interesting of destinations! And now, I yearn to return to see other parts of it that I wasn’t able to venture into.
Flying into the island was a breathtaking moment to begin with! Looking down into the different shades of blue of the ocean from the aircraft, I was already excited to touch down and explore Bali.
I started my journey in Ubud, the forest and mountainous region of the island. The drive from the airport to my villa was about two hours, and my what a villa it was! To welcome us was a little pond with koi fish swimming about, and large wooden doors with ancient carvings. Upon walking in I was greeted with a view of greenery and an infinity pool, casually set along a calming sunset. And in the day time, cockerels are there to ensure you arise in time for sunrise. A most splendid and serene sight!
My tour guide was full of energy and interesting anecdotes about the island. He took me to visit a local market nearby, where I was able to sample fresh fruit, mingle with the locals, and be gifted jasmine flowers!
An interesting aspect of my time in Ubud was when I was able to visit the homes of the locals, and see how they really live. The homes resemble temples, with vast, looming architecture. And yet, there is a simplicity about them. Upon entering, I was welcomed by an entire family, shown the temple inside the house, and treated to some more fruits. After visiting a local school and engaging with the friendliest of children (some naughty too), I made my way to iconic temples!
Both temples that I visited are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The temples and stairways are preserved impeccably, and to say they are beautiful would be an understatement. I walked 600 steps (up and down) at the Pura Gunung Kawi temple, all the while being greeted by fresh water streams, greenery, and a multitude of shopkeepers. The temple is home to age-old sculptures, set within the rocks and landscape of the natural terrain. It is also home to a cave where yogis meditate and continue to do so today! I was extremely tempted to enter the cave, but since it is a holy site, there are certain restrictions.
The second temple I visited is known as the Pura Tirta Empul – also a UNESCO Heritage Site. This temple is particularly recognized for its Holy Spring, where tourists and pilgrims come from all over the world to bathe in the naturally warm water, believing it absolves them of off their sins, purifying their souls. Unfortunately, I did not have an extra pair of clothes and was unable to enter the water.
It was extremely clean water, and being allowed to dip my feet, I felt the perfect temperature of it. It truly was a beautiful sight! The exit area of the temple consisted of a large pond, filled with the most number of koi fish I have ever seen!
After a reasonable amount of touring in the humidity, I made my way to a roadside restaurant, surrounded by the beautiful Bird of Paradise flower, where I had the tastiest roasted duck!
I later visited the coffee plantation, where I was able to see the various processes of making coffee. From the coffee plant, to the grinding of the beans, to even sampling all the different kinds of coffee, as well as a few teas!
We later drove to see Mt. Batur set across a still lake – from the view point, it looked like an oil painting!
Then it was time to see more rice fields and then tick off one to-do from my bucket list: the Bali swing! This swing, suspended god knows how many metres from the ground, was of the most terrifying yet exhilarating experiences of my life! To those who are afraid of heights, like me, tread with caution!!
After getting past being on the swing, I made it to dinner, and called it a night before driving to Nusa Dua the next morning – stay tuned!