Passports & Parsimony

major adventures on a modest budget 

Bali, Indonesia: Part 1 (Ubud, Megwi, Bedugul, Jatiluwih Rice Terrace and Tanah Lot)

I’m excited to be writing this post, since it’s long overdue. Our trip to Bali was only a week long, but it was absolutely packed – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! After a long (and sedentary) semester spent working on my masters thesis, a busy week of exploring was just what I needed. We thought it would be fun to share our itinerary and photos with others, since we had a fantastic time while keeping a modest budget.

We’re breaking our Bali trip up into multiple posts: this is the first few days of our trip. Enjoy! Leave us a comment if you like it :)

Day 1

Our first day was a little short since we arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport around dinner time. We’d made arrangements in advance to be picked up there and taken to our hotel in Ubud. The ride took about an hour, and while I tried to take pictures in the car, they all turned out dark and blurry. Boo.

We stayed at the Kartika Bungalows in Ubud near the Monkey Forest. Both of us LOVED our stay here! We were very satisfied with the service and hospitality. The staff were so friendly and helpful (they even helped us arrange transportation to and from the airport). Plus, it came at reasonable price! A week-long stay here cost about $130 for each of us, which is about $20 bucks a night! This included one private room with a double bed and mini fridge, free breakfast, free wifi, and pool access. It was also in walking distance of many things we wanted to see in Ubud. Kartika has great review on sites like Booking.com, AirBnb, and TripAdvisor, so if you don’t believe us, check them out!

Once we got our room key and dropped our things we went in search of food. Since it was Saturday night, many restaurants in Ubud were featuring live music! We followed the sounds of guitars and ended up at the Art Kafe on Jalan Monkey Forest road. It’s a funky little joint with bohemian-hipster décor and yummy food. A lot of foreigners like us had wandered in to hear the music. They were taking requests and playing some great classic rock songs and a few Indonesian ones, too. We even joined in to sing Leaving on a Jet Plane and Sound of Silence. So if you enjoy open mic nights and good curry, check it out!

Day 2

We woke up to this view from our balcony. Talk about a lush, green paradise!

A few minutes later, Koman, the hotel owner, brought up our breakfast. Usually we had some kind of banana pancakes with fresh fruit (pineapple, papaya and more banana). Every day it was delicious. Sometimes I still think about it. The Balinese like instant coffee – I would usually drink a black cup while Lou went for the white coffee (instant coffee with cream).

Louise and I are big fans of walking, and so we used this day to explore Ubud on foot. First on the agenda was the Campuhan Ridge Walk, a scenic hiking trail in central Ubud. All in all, we followed the trail for about 2 km, but you can go father, if you like. The views were lovely! Beautiful green forest on either side and lots of stray dogs on the path to keep us company. It was terribly hot, but we were having too much fun to be bothered! We stopped and spoke to an artist who’s been honing his craft for decades. He showed us how he paints intricate designs on small wooden eggs. I didn’t buy one but I wish I had.

We walked the 2 km back to the start and began heading toward our hotel. On the way we stumbled upon a museum and spent some time there looking at the artwork. Then it was off the Clear Café for lunch! This was probably one of my favorite places we ate. I was in love with the décor – so funky, colorful and cool. Pictures I took didn’t quite do it justice. It oozed with good vibes. I had the seafood platter, which was delicious. One type of fish came with this warm peanut sauce – sounds like a weird combo, but it was tasty!

While waiting for our food, we met a girl sitting at a nearby table who was from the United States. She’d been in Bali for about 5 months, though initially she’d only intended to stay for 3. She loved it so much in Bali that she passed up a corporate job in the states and was planning to settle there permanently. She recommended we visit the island of Nusa Penida if we got a chance. After looking at her photos, we were blown away. It looked like something out of a dream.

That night we went to a Kecak dance performance. Although it was dark and drizzling, we found the venue without too much trouble (thank goodness for the map on the back of the brochure!). This experience was quite unique and interesting – neither of us had ever seen anything like it. It began with a group of men sitting in a circle chanting in rhythm. During the course of the performance, other dancers in costume would join them on stage. Each dancer represented a character in the story, but none of them spoke. In a way, the chanting men were “narrating” the story for us. They yelled louder and faster when a pivotal scene was taking place.

We ate a late dinner after the show at a place called Jaya Café. I had the fried Indonesian noodles – so good! The food in Bali did not disappoint.

Day 3

This was a fun day! I’d booked a day-long tour of the Bedugul area with Ketut from Info Bali Driver We enjoyed making small talk with him. He told us he likes smooth jazz, plays guitar, and has 8 siblings (!). We also learned that Ketut means “fourth”, and there are specific names used for children 1-4 in a family. So his name is pretty common in Bali.

The full-day tour was $50 for 10 hours of sightseeing and a driver. There were some admission fees at certain places, but they were quite low (only a few dollars). They accept cash only, so be sure to bring some rupiah with you.

Our first visit of the day was to Pura Taman Ayun, a temple in Mengwi. It was once only accessible to the royal family, but now it’s open for the public to admire. The grounds are really beautiful.

Next, we saw Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, which means Temple on the Lake. This is a popular tourist spot, so if you go yourself, expect it to be a little busy. In fact, it’s so busy that no one comes to pray there anymore. I got some nice shots of the temple. The view of the mountains in the background was pretty, but somewhat ominous with all the fog in the background…I really admired the craftsmanship of the temple builders!

A few men at the temple kept posing for photos with us for pictures. After about the third or fourth, I declined to be in any more. Something was a little creepy about them. Louise said one asked if we were married. We also encountered some Chinese schoolgirls who asked for pictures with us.

We left the paparazzi behind and went off to the Bali Kopi Mekar, a coffee plantation. Luwak Coffee is a big thing in Indonesia. It’s the most expensive coffee in the world. Why? Because it’s made from coffee beans that have been digested by the civet, a small mammal native to Southeast Asia. The civet swallows the beans once they’re red and the little critter’s GI tract creates chemicals that give the beans a unique flavor. So, yep, the world’s most expensive coffee made from animal poop. Let that sink in, people.

We had a short tour of the grounds at Kopi Mekar and sampled about a dozen different kinds of tea as well as the Luwak Coffee. I LOVED the mangoseen, hibiscus and lemongrass teas. Lous recommended the ginger one too! You can try every single one if you want to! If you choose to buy some tea, it will be around $10. For the Luwak Coffee, you’ll have to shell out a bit more.

Next we saw Jatiluwih Rice Terrace. People one travel blogs and websites will try to tell you that Tegalalang Rice Terrace is the one to visit when traveling to Bali. We went to both and I couldn’t disagree more! Tegalalang was pretty, but jam packed with tourists and people trying to sell us things. In contrast, Jatiluwih was just as lovely, but quiet and calm. We wandered around in awe over and soaked in the views, none of which were obscured by other tourists! It really felt like a hidden slice of paradise! We ate lunch at J-Terrace Resturant, which overlooks the beautiful fields. They have a nice buffet – we loaded up our plates and tried everything! This photo is my favorite from the day:

Last stop was Tanah Lot, a temple a famous Balinese landmark. The clouds obscured the sunset, but we wandered around on the surrounding beach and took some cool photos!

Thanks so much for reading! Louise will be back soon with the second leg of our Bali trip! Hint: it gets even cooler from here!

~ Lael

To read about Part 2 of our trip, click here!

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