We arrived in Denpasar just before midnight but with the immigration line and long wait for our luggage we didn’t get out of the airport until close to 1 am. Luckily we had booked a hotel right next to the airport so we headed there to get some shut eye. The next morning we were awoken by a knock on the door and low and behold it was my friend and Matron of Honor Holly. After waking up and getting cleaned up we headed to the hotel poolside restaurant for lunch where more friends (Ashley and Julie) met us! After getting all the details about Bali from Ashley and Julie we made our way to Ubud.
Our first stop was the Onion Collective (our home for a week) and a homestay/hostel/restaurant that was recommended to us by our friend and Maid of Honor Darcie. Our room was a little Balinese with the bathroom outside but it was very comfortable. Next we took Holly to her accommodations, which were much more lavish than ours: five pools, lots of awesome artwork, and amazing statues.
Later that evening we went out for dinner and walked around the town a little bit. We came across a spa that had fish tanks that eat your dead foot skin. Holly and I tried it while Drew laughed at our hysterics as they started nibbling our toes.
The next morning we all got up early to head to the Ubud Monkey Sanctuary for the opening. Even before entering the sanctuary we saw tons of monkeys walking across the road, sitting on shop roofs, and hanging out. Once inside we were greeted by tons of cute baby monkeys. In addition to all the cute monkeys, the sanctuary is also an amazing old temple with beautiful architecture and old bridges. We had a great time exploring it!
We had heard tons of horror stories about the monkeys so we were very careful not to bring any food or things the monkeys could steal from us. We headed back to the Onion and had some delicious lunch then we headed out on an afternoon tour. Our first stop on the tour was another monkey sanctuary – the Sangeh Monkey Forest. This one was much smaller though and didn’t have as many monkeys but there were lots of locals taking wedding photos which was really interesting to see.
Our next stop was Taman Ayun or the beautiful garden temple, which sits on a beautiful lake. The temple is quite large and does in fact have some beautiful gardens. I was surprised however that there were large signs saying that menstruating women could not enter the temple – something I hadn’t seen in any other country.
Our final stop of the day was the Tanah Lot temple which sits on a tiny island just barely out into the breaking surf. The beach and cliff side is absolutely beautiful however it was completely covered in people and that detracted from the beauty a bit. In addition to the temple there was also a lovely arch and men walking around with giant pythons that you could take pictures with – none of us were brave enough to do that though!
That night we had to try the local Mexican cuisine so we went to Taco Casa and it was the first time we’ve had real sour cream since Scotland! It’s the little things in life : )
The next day we got up early and did a full day tour! Our first stop was Goa Gajah or the Elephant Temple. It had some large water holy water fountains but the most impressive part was the carved cave in which there are alters for offerings
Our next stop was the Gunung Kawi an ancient temple that is about 400 steps down. On the way down to the temple we also got some awesome views of rice terraces. In fact Holly and I even did a fun photo shoot. The temple felt like it was in a forest and had a peaceful creek running by but I think the coolest part was seeing locals prepare temple decorations and offerings. We even got to see some perform with local instruments.
Before heading to our next destination our driver took us through his village. It was really neat to see the locals harvesting rice – we even got out of the car and walked along and met some people.
Next we went to a Bali Coffee Company where we got to taste tons of different coffees and some very interesting teas. My favorite was the vanilla Bali coffee, Holly’s favorite was the ginger tea, and Drew’s favorite was the coconut coffee and lemongrass tea. We also tried the luwak coffee – a luwak is an animal that kind of looks like a cat or a ferrate and the luwaks eat the coffee bean and the defecate it. The luwak coffee is made from the defecate beans – yup that’s right – and we tried it! We also got to try some Balinese dark chocolate which was delicious and Drew made friends with a luwak.
We had lunch at a great lookout over Mount Batur right before the fog rolled in! Then we headed to Bukit Jambul for what are considered the most beautiful rice terrace views and they did not disappoint. There were tons of tourists though so after taking in the views we decided to head back to Ubud.
For dinner that night we headed to CP’s Lounge (another recommendation from Darcie). The food and live music were great but the best part was Andrew finally got to have some shisha (flavored tobacco) because Holly was willing to split it with him and after some peer pressure even I gave in and tried some (and I never give in to peer pressure!).
The next day Holly and I did a girls day at the spa and it was a full and fun experience. It started with a wonderful massage and then we got a chocolate body scrub followed by a chocolate body mask – my childhood Willy Wonka fantasies were totally fulfilled! Our next experience was a beautiful flower bath followed by a relaxing facial. The last part of our amazing day was a hair mask and head massage.
By the end of the relaxing experience we were super hungry so we met Drew at a place called Bridges, which is located on a cliff overlooking a river. Before we got there Drew explored the bridge and another wonderful temple but we all went to lunch. Holly and I ordered the Balinese sample lunch and got to try all sorts of different cuisines.
When we left the restaurant we started walking toward town and stumbled across a Balinese procession from a temple complete with a drum celebration. It was one of those awesome experiences that you just happen upon and it was a great end to our relaxing day.
In the evening we had a lady come to Holly’s hotel to give us Henna tattoos. She worked pretty quickly and it turned out as good as I expected! The difficult part was not getting ink on everything for the next 1.5 hours until it completely dried.
After almost a week in Bali we hadn’t seen much of the sun, so for Holly’s last day in Bali we decided to head to the coast (Seminyak) for some fun. Our driver suggested a beach club called Potato Head and we followed his lead. The place ended up being really amazing. They had tons of specialty cocktails that came in coconuts, wood tiki cups, and even giant shells. They also had an amazing pool with ocean views. It was an amazing, fun, and relaxing day at the beach!
After a great day we said goodbye to Holly and headed back to the Onion for our last night in Ubud!