Flying 4h from Cairns in direct flight with Jetstar, here we are on the island of Bali in Indonesia. We landed at the airport of the main city : Denpasar about 22h, then with immigration and luggage it is quickly 23h.
Welcome to Asia where everything need to be negociated ! We need a taxi to reach our guest house located in the animated town of Seminyak about ten kilometers northwest of the airport. The first round of negociation is around 600 000 Indonesian rupees (36 EUR), then we quickly got an offer down to 500 000, then while waiting new offers we saw how organized locals are to convinced local to board taxis at higher rates , we anyway checked before that the price should be 150 000, after several minutes talking to several drivers we get to have the ride for 200 000 rupee (12 EUR). OK, now it is 23h10 traffic should be OK at this time, and it is only 10km, we should be at the hotel about 23h30, Mmmm, again we are in Asia, we will arrive rather around midnight.
It is a very nice, international neighborhood with lots of shops, restaurants and trendy bars, a popular beach for beginner at surf. We are roaming around in the streets under a heat and an overwhelming humidity! The atmosphere of Bali is really special! Every morning, you can attend Balinese tradition in any streets. Dressed with traditional clothes, the Sarang, they prepare a small basket of offerings built in palm leaves. It's placed in front of each house, shops and on the sidewalks of the cities. Those are called the Canang sari. The composition is very precise and each ingredient has a special meaning. There are of course flowers. Different colors depending on the gods, tobacco, incense, and food (rice-fruits). These offerings are made in gratitude and not for the protection or other favor of the gods.
Religion is very important in Bali. 80% of the population is Hindu, which differs from the rest of Indonesia where the Muslim religion is pre-dominant. There are many beautiful temples, altars for offerings almost in front of each house. People are extremely smiling and caring. Imperturbable in their rituals and tradition, despite a very strong tourist attendance.
We stayed 2 days only in Seminyak and took the opportunity to discover the famous Balinese massage. A mix of deep tissue massage and pressure points on the entire body ! A moment of relaxation guaranteed and necessary after sleeping in the van in Australia for 40 days.
The next day, we leave the coast and take a taxi to reach Ubud, cultural center of Bali. It is a city inland, XNUMXkm north east of Seminyak and Denpasar. It's a minimum of XNUMXh drive even with no traffic !!!
After 1h45 taxi ride and approx 22 EUR, we arrive at our guest house. It is a little out of the main streets, accessible by a small road suitable for motorbike only and surrounded by rice fields and lush vegetation. We recommend it to everyone visiting Ubud
1e step: The Monkey Forest. It is a tourist site on which are several temples, a cemetery, all in the heart of an opulent jungle populated by many monkeys! A landscape that made me think of Lara Croft's movie! The monkeys are so used to the human presence that they do not hesitate to approach and try to steal everything that is not secure, glasses, cap, bottle of water, phones. Some even try to open the backpacks to find food! It is a very pleasant walk and it took us much of the afternoon.
Back to our guest house, have a swim in the pool, have a quick dinner in the city and hop to bed because the next day we have a planned trip to Mount Batur to see the sun rise ...
Departure 2h morning, it hurts .... Then 2h bus ride, a small stop in a shack to get breakfast and we reach the starting point of the hike. We are not the only ones! A horde of guide is jumping on tourists even if it's already booked and planned to have a guide, we do not really understand what is happening and in the end a girl introduces herself and tells us that she will be our guide. Let's go for 2h climbing in the dark night with a flashlight. The path is quite difficult, many pebbles, rocks but we arrive at the summit at 5.50 a few minutes before sunrise. The weather is clear, we are lucky because the previous days were cloudy according to local guides, so it's a wonderful show! The temperature is cool and we had the most expensive tea of our world tour (served with a colony of dead ants at the bottom of the cup) for 60 000IDR is almost 4 EUR which is overly expensive for the place, but we made it and we deserve it.
After some pictures it is time to go down again. We can admire the landscape as it is daylight right now. This is really beautiful. The caldera, the lava flows, the lake and the villages below offer a spectacular show.
On the way back to our hotel we make a stop in a coffee plantation. The coffee of Bali is very famous. Indeed, it is a particular variety called Luwak. These are actually coffee beans ingested by an Asian civet (a kind of cat / ferret) and then discarded and harvested in its excrement. In fact the animal do not digests or just a little the coffee beans, it allows to give some flavors, because the animal also consumes a lot of cherries. Very interesting, but unfortunately I do not drink coffee, so I did not try it, lucky me !
Back to our room, it's only ... 10H morning! The day is going to be long! Rest by the pool and recovery of nocturnal efforts!
The next day we book a taxi guide for exploring Ubud's surroundings. Pretty cheap +/- 25 EUR for 6h. It's great to do things at our own pace. We went to see amazing temples, beautiful waterfalls and of course the famous rice terraces. During the visit of the "holy water temple", Emma took part to the purification's ritual. It consists in taking a dip under 7 different fountains. The water is very fresh but the experience is pleasant and allows to focus thoughts about the important things and those we love. Then we visited the rice terraces. We had seen similar ones during our stay in the Philippines a few years ago. It's really beautiful. Here in Bali there are many swings on which tourists can climb and swing over the rice fields.Pretty expansive for us so instead we enjoy a delicious coconut with a view the rice fields.
In the evening, we attend a dance show and traditional Balinese music at the Ubud Palace. There are different shows every evening and tonight it is the Legong dance. We go a little early to get good seats. Gamelan's players finally entered the stage. The gamelan is the traditional instrumental instruments percussions, xylophones and drums. Then the dancers ... The costumes are beautiful and the movements of the fingers, eyes, hands are really impressive.
The next day's program is very Zen! Following the recommendation of Justine, Manu's cousin, we booked a cocooning afternoon in a beautiful Spa in the middle of the rice fields. We rented a scooter from our guesthouse to reach the place. For Thomas it will be a Balinese massage followed by a ear candling and for Manu it will be a Balinese massage also followed by a flower bath. Fantastic!
After these few days in Ubud it is already time to go back to the coast to spend the last 2 days on Bali before leaving for Vietnam.
We arrived in Kuta by sharing a Grab (the local Uber app) with German girls. During the trip the driver tells us a little about the struggles he has as a VTC driver. In cities like Ubud local taxis are trying to ban Graab by being aggressive with the drivers, forbidding them to take tourists. It is a bit surprising as Grab is not legally banned from Bali or Indonesia. Local taxis will charge Tourists up to 2 times mores for the same trip so even if we tried to use them when possible, we chose Grab for this long trip.
We arrive in Kuta for our last 2 nights and there is a bit of shock. Mc Donalds, Australian pubs, steak house, ... it feels like being on the Spanish Costa Brava! It is the paradise of the Australians, where they drink and party in the street without any respect for the locals, stroll bare-chested or in bathing suits. To be honest we have not really enjoyed the place but had a lot of things to do. Some laundry, writing articles for the blog, but also the preparation of our trip to Vietnam. The guest house we had was pretty good and quiet, we were 1km from the airport, very convenient for a departure at 4h in the morning for Vietnam!