Sunday, September 27, 2015

Coffee Farms, Ubud Art Market, & I Suck at Haggling

Before we visited the coffee farm, I'd honestly never heard of Luwak Coffee.

Am I just totally out of touch?

Our driver took us to one of the coffee farms in Ubud on a whim and we had a look around the farm at where the tea plants were grown and the process of making the coffee. I actually even saw a few Luwaks just kind of chilling and napping and they reminded me a lot of ferets.

We were given a coffee tasting at the end of the tour and I have to say, a lot of the coffees and teas were some of the best drinks I've ever tasted without any additives. I didn't actually try the Luwak Coffee because it just doesn't appeal to me. I did; however, get a bag of coconut coffee (I'm not a coffee drinker and I managed to consume this whole bag in two days) because it was just too delicious to pass up.




Have any of you ever actually tried the Luwak Coffee? What does it taste like?

We also made a stop at the Ubud Art Market.

Sadly enough, I did not buy any art.

This market had some pretty awesome thing and I did almost all of souvenir shopping here. My boyfriend is moving into a new apartment soon so I grabbed some really cool household pieces and a few fun articles of clothing for myself.



On that note, I love markets. Love love love them. I hate haggling. I'm just not really any good at it. In fact, I made two really awesome deals this whole trip and both were complete accidents. And I actually felt really bad about them like I had completely swindled these merchants out of money but hey, they were the ones who bargained that low! Actually, one conversation went something like this-

I was just leaving the Sacred Monkey Forest and noticed a gift shop close to where our driver had parked. I walked in and found some really awesome monkey carvings.

"How much?" I asked the merchant.
"100,000," She responded.
"Okay, thank you," I said, ready to exit the store since I only had 50,000 on me.
"How about 75,000?" she countered.
"I'm sorry, I only have 50,000 with me," I told her, apologetically.
"Okay," She finished, wrapping up the monkey and taking my cash.

I literally got that carving for half of the store price. And when I found similar carvings in other gift shops, they were close to three times what I had paid.

Wooooooooooot.
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Rice Fields & Crispy Duck

One of the things I love about Bali was how easy it was to find affordable food.

Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of fancy bars around that charged a pretty normal big city tourist prices. There were also really great local spots that served super amazing food in a beautiful setting for pretty cheap.

Our driver took us to this spot and honestly, it was everything I wanted out of my one meal in Ubud. I really wanted to find somewhere located amongst the rice fields and somewhere that served the famous crispy duck I had been dreaming about for months. This place had both and I didn't even tell him that's what I wanted. Such a great guide!

The restaurant was large and there were a few little bungalows for larger parties that were out closer to the fields. We opted for a pretty normal table in regular chairs because we were all kinds of tired at this point. Our amazing meal of Nasi Goreng, crispy duck, and of course, a fresh coconut, cost somwhere in the neighborhood of $20. And it was a lot of food. 


Super cool atmosphere.


Rice fields!


Yummmm...


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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Goa Gajah- The Elephant Caves

There was some confusion finding this spot. While there are a number of tour guides and tourism specialists refer to this spot as the elephant caves, our guide only knew it as Goa Gajah. So after consulting with several other drivers, he managed to figure out where we were trying to go. 

The caves are down a bit of stairs past the entry point. There are no monkeys at this temple (thank God). Like Uluwatu, they have you wear a small sash out of respect for the temples.

Unlike Uluwatu, there are employees (I think) who wander the temple area offering tours. Please be advised, some of these guides can be quite rude and expect very large tips in exchange for their services whether you asked for a tour or not. I will say, the information they have is quite interesting; however, it's not really anything you can't find online. I also don't appreciate being bullied out of my money but that's beside the point.

There are a few pools of water by the front of the cave where people were hanging out. The steps were quite steep so we didn't venture down. 




Inside the cave, there were a number of offerings for the Hindu deities. The carvings on the outside of the cave were really intricate and beautiful. 




There were also a few temple areas being built and the attention to detail on these areas were also really really beautiful.




In addition to the actual elephant cave, there is an old damaged Buddhist temple at the bottom of another longer steeper flight of stairs. I didn't have the energy to walk down but what I could see from towards the top was pretty beautiful. 




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Friday, September 25, 2015

Sacred Monkey Forest

This was one of the places I knew I had to visit on this trip.

It was also probably the only place I was actually a bit nervous about visiting. I'd heard so many strange stories of people getting bitten or scratched and seen so many photos of people getting attacked so I was a bit apprehensive about the monkeys. In fact, my mom didn't even want to go in. So I went alone with just a tiny black camera hidden under my blouse.


Upon walking in, I literally saw no monkeys. In fact, it was a bit strange. I followed one of the paths towards the temples and reached a little market area and there they were. Wandering the tops of buildings, grabbing bananas from tourists, swinging from trees.



Surprisingly, the monkeys were not just everywhere. There would be clusters of them in the more wooded areas and then a few stragglers wandering around. 




Some would be carrying bananas to the trees and others would just kind of hang out. 



In fact, a lot of the photos I got of the monkeys were mostly just random monkeys chilling. 




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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Full Moon Days & a Barong Dance

Our third day in Bali we opted for another private tour. 

We had a different driver this time and upon hearing our plans to visit attractions in Ubud, he added a couple of fun stops to our itinerary. Since it was a full moon day and the locals were going to be celebrating, the general vide around Bali was super festive. Most women we saw were dressed in the traditional Balinese outfits and even some of the little kids were dressed up.

Our first stop was at a small theatre to watch a traditional Barong Dance. When we bought our tickets we were handed an interpretation and information sheet that was all in English which was great because if not for that piece of paper, I would have had no idea what was going on! The show was relatively short but extremely colorful and quite interesting. I enclosed a link in case anyone is curious because I honestly don't know how to describe it and still had trouble following the story!






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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Koi Ponds and Coconuts at Bale Udang

One of the first places I put on my Bali food checklist was Bale Udang Mang Engking. 


The photos and menu absolutely sold me on this restaurant and the reviews were pretty stellar. While getting here by (crooked) taxi was a bit weird, once we got here, we were insanely comfortable.



It was just before sunset when we arrived and the restaurant was not crowded yet. We weren't quite willing to pay for the bungalows (which still weren't that outrageous but we couldn't have eaten enough for the food and beverage minimum that was required) but the table we had was close to the water and the view and ambiance were still wonderful.


The food was amazing. We had sweet and sour carpe, spicy squid, BBQ prawns, nasi goreng (one of the things I ate about seven times over the week), and some pretty impressive drinks including a delicious fresh coconut. The service was helpful and the atmosphere was really really awesome.




And the view at night was even better.
What a wonderful experience!



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