Who wants to go back to Bali with me? Anyone? Anyway, we talked about our accommodation and our first day at Nusa Dua in the previous entry.
Today, I would like to share with you on our second day’s exploration of central Bali which included attractions in Denpasar, Ubud, and Kintamani.
Thanks to my cousin’s recommendation, we hired Wayan, an awesome private driver & tour guide to drive us around central Bali for the entire day for a reasonable price of 450,000 Rupiah (USD $37.50).
From our hotel south of Bali, we traveled up towards the north of Denpasar which took us about an hour.
Wayan brought us to the Barong and Kris Dance performance that plays every day at 9:30am.
It cost us IDR 100,000 (USD $8.33) per person to enjoy a cultural performance.
We were a little skeptical at first about this touristy attraction and we actually waited quite some time before the performance started.
But when the Balinese traditional music started playing, we began to embrace the cultural display presented to us.
The costumes were elaborate and colorful; some of the characters were wonderfully comic, which made us laugh even though we could not understand the spoken words.
Barong is a lion-like creature and character in the mythology of Bali. He is the king of the spirits and enemy of Rangda (the demon queen) according to tradition.
The whole Barong and Kris Dance was about a story of the eternal battle between good and evil.
Thankfully they gave us a leaflet outlining what the storyline was about, otherwise I think both Mike and I would have been lost.
On our way to Gianyar, we passed by several local temples which all looked quite similar.
From the performance theater to Goa Gajah took about 45 minutes.
Goa Gajah (elephant cave) is located near Ubud and it was built in the 11th century.
The entrance fee to Goa Gajah is IDR 15,000 (USD $1.25) per person. Before they allowed us to enter the elephant cave area, women wearing shorts were given a sarong (waist sash) to cover up exposed legs/thighs.
I know the name is a little misleading, giving the impression that we would be seeing tons of elephants. However, Goa Gajah is an archaelogical site of significant historical value.
We needed a little time to descend to its relic-filled courtyard and view the rock-wall carvings, the cave, bathing pools, and fountains.
A lot of these various structures reveal Hindu influences dating back to the 10th century, and some relics feature elements of Buddhism dating even earlier to the 8th century.
The meditation cave itself is shallow and small. In fact, Goa Gajah is still an active worship site, so try not to get in the way of worshippers inside the narrow cave.
The cave is built on the brink of a meeting between two small rivers which is believed to have magical powers based on the concept of Rwabhineda (two differences). The picture below shows the Holy Shower and is deemed holy by the worshippers.
Our next destination, Mount Batur at Kintamani was 1 hour away from Goa Gajah. This is an active volcano which contains a caldera lake – Lake Batur.
The Lake Batur itself is nothing special but the surrounding volcanic environment makes the lake beautiful and the view from above is spectacular. This lake is the largest crater lake on the island of Bali and is a good source of fish according to our driver.
Maybe the next time when we visit, we will engage in the Mount Batur sunrise trekking tour. I would love to ascend to the highest peak and enjoy a beautiful sunrise.
The view is really gorgeous, and we really loved the fact we were able to enjoy such a breathtaking view. The only setback was we were constantly disturbed by the aggressive hawkers.
There were several restaurants taking advantage of the scenic view of Mount Batur.
In my humble opinion, the restaurant that Wayan had taken us were slightly overpriced and the hygiene factor was a little low. The lunch buffet was priced at IDR120,000 per person (USD $10). In terms of food tastiness, I would probably rate it 5/10 (based on Bumbu Bali being rated as 10/10).
But we appreciated the fact that we had a great view of the volcano; so it was a decent dining experience.
After our lunch, Wayan drove us about an hour southbound towards Tegalalang to see some paddy rice terraces.
Unfortunately, it was about to rain heavily so we did not get to walk the beautiful terraces handmade by men. At least, we got to catch a quick glimpse of the awesome landscape of the rice fields.
Due to the downpour, our journey from Tegalalang to Ubud was slower than usual. It could have taken us 20 minutes to get to Ubud downtown but the traffic was really built up.
We passed by the Monkey Forest Sanctuary and saw quite a number of monkeys roaming around freely. Wayan warned us not to wind down our windows because the monkeys were good in grabbing things rapidly. We didn’t feel like donating our camera to any monkey families that day.
Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Agung) is a large palace located at the intersection of Monkey Forest and Raya Ubud road. It was the residence of the last ruling monarch of Ubud and today it is still owned by the royal family.
There were a few Hindu temples surrounding the palace, and the mythological Barong could be seen everywhere.
Ubud is also one of Bali’s major art and cultural centers and it has developed a large tourism industry. A number of smaller boutique-style hotels has drawn in a lot of tourists, especially since the movie ‘Eat Pray Love’ (starred by Julia Roberts) was filmed here several years ago.
After walking around Ubud for a while, it started to rain again and we decided to leave.
By the time Wayan got us back to Nusa Dua, it was almost 7:10pm. Our tummies were growling and unanimously, we decided to head back to Bumbu Bali Restaurant for a second round of yummylicious food.
Thankfully, a couple canceled their reservation so we did not need to wait to get seated at the packed restaurant. This time, we ordered a set dinner of Balinese Rijsttafel that cost about IDR 550,000 (USD $46) for two persons.
The set menu came with clear chicken soup with shallots as an appetizer. The main dishes were a tray of mini dishes of all kinds of yummy food such as pork, chicken, fish, duck, seafood, and some vegetables.
The one bad thing about dining in an open air restaurant was mosquito bites. It was not that bad for me. However, when I started to count the number of bites or bumps on Mike, it was a total of 42 bites!
With that, our second day of Bali adventure has ended. We were well fed, (and we fed the mosquitoes too) and we were slept in bed like a baby that night.
Stay tuned for Day 3’s entry.