Whereas our first full day in Bali was aiding in our acquaintance with the culture, our second day involved going outside of the centre of Ubud to see some incredible sights that we had researched prior to our trip. In case you missed it and want to be up to speed, you can read all about the first day of our trip here. But this day was definitely one of my favourites, and includes many places that I would definitely recommend on checking out if you ever get the chance to visit Bali.
As it was our second night in the traditional house, we enjoyed another gorgeous breakfast in their picturesque courtyard. We had the same fresh fruit and juice, but this morning we were treated to banana pancakes, which we came to discover are somewhat of a speciality in Bali. We then were discussing with one the staff members about our plans for the day, and he suggested that we hired a driver, which would cost around 500,000 rupiah (roughly £25). This is probably the best decision you can make in Bali, especially if you are in between accommodations. Our driver took us to several locations throughout the day and waited whilst we enjoyed our time, also giving us the luxury of leaving our huge backpacks in the car.
Our first destination was to watch a traditional Balinese dance in Gianyar, which was actually recommended to us by our host. It was definitely an interesting experience, although we both felt that in parts it was rather lengthy, and having to rely on a translated English summary, it was somewhat difficult to follow the plot. Having said that it is definitely worth going to a performance as both the music and the dancers are captivating, and we did enjoy getting a taste of traditional Balinese culture.
The second attraction, and probably our most anticipated one, was Tegenungan waterfall. After a rather long walk down a lot of stairs and crossing some pretty treacherous-looking bridges, you reach the bottom of the waterfall, which provides quite the view (and picture background). What we loved about this place was that it didn’t feel modified for tourism, and although there were many visitors, you still felt extremely immersed in nature. If you’re a little more adventurous than we are – although we gave it our best shot – you can climb to near the top of the waterfall, but if you’re not a brave climber, or a monkey, you may want to sit that one out…
Then came the realisation that we had to walk back up the infinite number of stairs that we climbed down to get to the waterfall to leave. So we definitely broke a sweat and earned ourselves a big lunch. And this is where I find my favourite Indonesian dish – nasi goreng. It is quite a simple dish, chicken fried rice with a fried egg on top, but is absolutely delicious. This one in particular, in a quiet cafe just down the road from the waterfall was amazing.
Another temple that we had done a lot of research on was Goa Gajah, nicknamed ‘Elephant Cave’. This gets its name from, aptly, a cave that seemed somewhat like catacombs on the inside, that had elephant-like carvings on the outside. What was really special about this temple was what lied behind it. It now serves as a sanctuary for prayer, and down some steps to water pools and lotus ponds surrounded by the gorgeous forests of Bali. We found this place very special, and the tranquility of it is something that I’ll never forget. We were also fortunate enough to be guided around a fallen Buddha head by one of the holy men there, who took us to little hidden spaces that we probably wouldn’t have explored without him.
After reluctantly leaving this beautiful paradise, we headed to our final destination of the day, the Spring Water Temple in Tampak Siring. This temple had some beautiful coy ponds, and it was interesting to see people take the holy water. It had beautiful grounds, and although we couldn’t enter the centre of the temple due to people praying, it was definitely fascinating to observe a culture so different to anything I had seen before. Although I always expected to have to wear a sarong in temples, we were surprised to learn that in this temple specifically, women had to tie their hair up in order to enter. Another interesting rule is that women also cannot enter a temple whilst menstruating – I believe it is something to do with being unclean.
We then headed to our highly anticipated accommodation for the night, our Bamboo Eco Cottage in the middle of Ubud’s rice fields – again from Airbnb. But more on that in my next post. We finished off our day by treating ourself to the candlelit dinner that our host’s offered, which was absolutely delicious.
As I mentioned in the beginning, and as you can probably tell from the enthusiastic tone to this post, we really enjoyed all of the places we visited this day, and would highly recommend them. Until the next Bali post…