Traveling 4h from Cairns in direct flight with Jetstar, here we are on the island of Bali in Indonesia. We land at the airport of the main city of the island: Denpasar to 22h, then with immigration and luggage it is quickly 23h.
Welcome to Asia where everything is trading! We need a taxi to reach our guest house located in the bustling Seminyak district about ten kilometers northwest of the airport. The first round is around 600 000 Indonesian rupees (36 EUR), then we quickly go down to 500 000, then we realize the carousel, we saw that the price should be 150 000, after several minutes to talk has several drivers we get to have the race for 200 000 rupee (12 EUR). OK, now it is 23h10 the traffic should be calmer at this time, then it is only 10km, we should be at the hotel to 23h30, Mmmm, again we are in Asia, we will arrive rather to midnight.
This is a very nice, international neighborhood with lots of shops, restaurants and trendy bars, a great beach popular with beginner surfers. We are strolling in the streets quietly under a heat and an overwhelming humidity! The atmosphere of Bali is really special! Every morning, one can attend Balinese ballet in their traditional dress, the Sarang, deposit offerings in small baskets made of palm leaves. They are deposited in front of each house, shops and literally litter the sidewalks of the city. These are the Canang sari. The composition is very precise and each ingredient has a special meaning. There are of course flowers. Different colors and orientation 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 present 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 the city of Ubud, cultural center of Bali. It is a city inland north-east of Seminyak and Denpasar.
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 site on which are several temples, a cemetery, all in the heart of a lush jungle populated by very many monkeys! A landscape that made me think of Lara Croft's film! The monkeys are so used to the human presence that they do not hesitate to approach and try to steal everything that exceeds, whether glasses, cap, bottle of water. Some even try to open the backpacks to find food! It is a very pleasant walk and it occupies 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 pique a little .... Then bus 2h, a small stop in a gargotte and we reach the start of the hike. We are not the only ones! The horde of guide is thrown on our group, 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. And let's go for 2h climbing in the dark night with a flashlight each. 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 and clear, so it's a wonderful show! The temperature is cool and we enjoy a tea (served with a colony of dead ants at the bottom of the cup) for the small sum of 60 000IDR is almost 4 EUR which is overly expensive but hey it was well deserved.
After some photos it is time to go down again. We can admire the landscape as it is day to day. This is really beautiful. The caldera, the ancient lava flows, the lake and the villages below offer a grand spectacle.
On the way back we make a stop in a coffee plantation. The Bali coffee is very famous. Indeed, it is a particular variety called Luwak. These are actually coffee seeds ingested by an Asian civet (a kind of cat / ferret) and then discarded and harvested in its excrement. In fact the animal digests little or no seeds but it allows to add some flavors, because the animal also consumes a lot of cherries. Very interesting, but unfortunately I do not drink coffee, so I did not start a tasting.
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 a day discovery around Ubud, it does not cost very expensive here +/- 25 EUR for 6h. We can visit at our pace beautiful temples, beautiful waterfalls and of course the famous rice terraces. During the visit of the "holy water temple", Emma participated in the ritual of purification which consists in wetting her body and her head under 7 various fountains. The water is very fresh but the experience is pleasant and allows to orient its thoughts about important things and those we love. Then we go to visit 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 ride and so swing over the rice paddies.This is not really given so we spend our time and prefer to enjoy a good coconut in a coffee shop 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 will be the Legong dance. We go a little early to be well placed and patiently wait. Gamelan's players return to the stage. The gamelan is the traditional instrumental ensemble, consisting of percussion, 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! On the advice of Justine, cousin of Manu, we booked a pampering afternoon in a beautiful Spa in the middle of rice fields. We rent a scooter from our guesthouse to go there. For Thomas it will be a Balinese massage followed by a cleaning of the ears with the candle and for Manu it will be a Balinese massage also followed by a bath with flowers. Foot!!!
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. During the trip the driver tells us a little about the hell he lives by being a VTC driver, especially in cities like Ubud or the "mafia" local taxis tries to ban it by tracking them, forbidding them to take tourists , despite legality in the rest of the island or even more widely in Indonesia. What is funny is that local taxis really abuse prices. The prices they advertise are 2-3 times higher and it's very difficult to negotiate.
We arrive in Kuta for our 2 last 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 swimsuits. To be honest we have not appreciated the place but had a lot of things to do. A little laundry, the writing of the blog, but also the preparation of our stay in Viet Nam, then the guest house we had was pretty good and quiet and in addition we were only 1km from the airport, very convenient for a departure at 4h in the morning for Vietnam!