Tag Archives: Indonesia

Seminyak….last stop before heading home

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Day 10
After the crazy late night Yvonne and I both woke up still exhausted. Our driver collected us at 10am and we dozed the whole 3hour drive to Seminyak (well, apart from the time spent clutching our stomachs, well Yvonne was clutching her stomach and I was sound asleep, because of the windy bumpy road through the mountains. If you didn’t already know, Bali roads suck!)

Once we got to Seminyak we checked into our fancy schmancy hotel and crawled straight back into bed, where we both stayed for most of the day.

Day 11
We spent the first half of the day wandering around Seminyak, did a bit of shopping and had lunch by the beach. As it was a very hot day, we spent the afternoon cooling down by the pool.

In the evening we headed down to the Legian/Kuta region for some cheap shopping. We also went and got our nails done and finished off the evening with a tasty dinner.

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Day 12
Our last day in Bali. We packed up our bags, had brekky, checked out and put our luggage into storage for the day. A driver collected us at 9:30am to take us to Pura Besakih, Bali’s most important temple. It is a complex made up of 22 temples and is situated on the slopes of Mt Agung (Bali’s principal volcano). The temple itself is quite beautiful and it’s tiered design into the mountain slope is really interesting. Unfortunately though, the whole experience was pretty crap. Being Bali’s most important temple also makes it the ideal place to target and try to scam tourists. Firstly there is no entrance fee, but we were made to pay for tickets and for our driver to park (every other driver we have had paid their own parking fees out of their wage), then we had to go to ‘Tourist Information’ where Yvonne had to rent a sarong (at a ridiculous price – also most temples, will loan you a sarong for free, as wearing the sarong is a sign of respect, and should not be done out of duty) then they claimed we needed to sign the register book and pay some money, people had signed off amounts like $50US which is RIDICULOUS, but eventually out of what the guy was saying we found out it was for donations though he said we HAD to pay. So we paid a small amount each. Walking towards the temple we were harassed by children and adults trying to sell their wares, drinks, food, postcards etc. the kids would get so close to you they were almost getting into your bag.

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Then walking to the temple we were followed by a local guide saying there was a ceremony on and we would not be able to enter without a local guide (the guidebook I had read, told me this would be the case and that a guide was not actually necessary). We turned away three local guides before getting to the entrance to the main temple of the complex, and here our entry was blocked by four local guides saying we could not go in. I walked past them and they man-handled me out. So we spat the dummy and walked around the complex checking out the other temples within the complex. On the way back through the complex, it was interesting to see that all the gates to the main temple were open and there we no longer local guides clustered harassing tourists, so we wandered right in!
So while the temple complex was beautiful, it was such a horrible experience!

By the time we got back to Seminyak we were starving! So we found a place to have some lunch. After lunch we chilled out for a bit (I actually spent most of it napping on a lounge chair by the hotel pool), did a bit more shopping and got massages before heading out to the airport for the flight home.

Reflecting on the last few days, I am pretty sure my drink got spiked on the last night in Lovina, because I spent the remaining days struggling to be awake for more than an hour or two at a time, and spent the first few days back home still recovering. So be warned, even if you make friends in Bali, don’t trust them!

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Lovina

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Day 7
Our 9am pickup arrived and we headed further into the hills on our way to the beachside area called Lovina. Climbing into the mountains provided many beautiful views! Our first stop along the way was at Lake Bratan. Almost at the top of the mountain was a big plateau, with a huge lake of glistening blue water. At the edge of the lake was a temple complex with beautiful gardens and lots of brightly coloured flowers. The main temple was not actually within the complex, but a small island roughly 20 metres from the edge of the lake. The temple had a tiered roof – the number of tiers represents what the temple is for. For example, two tiers is for the sky and Mother Earth. There are temples with 2, 3, 7 and 9 tiers. The tiers in between earth and sky are for things like the different gods, such as the Hindu’s version of the holy trinity, they have Vishnu, Shiva and Dewa (I’m pretty sure that’s the three, and I am not convinced I have spelled them correctly). The Bratan temple in the lake was beautiful to look at and on such a clear day, was colour rich.

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As our drive continued we drove over the peaks of the highest mountains, alongside the road monkeys sat and watched traffic, or tried to scam some food from the road workers. Descending the mountain on the other side we stopped at Git Git waterfall. On such a clear, sunny day, it was rather a hot hike into the jungle (even if it was only a few hundred metres)…the waterfall was really pretty. There are two tiers, but we only went to the lower one, as we didn’t want a 2hour jungle hike. The lower tier was a waterfall of 40+ metres, crashing into a small rock pool below. The water was crystal clear, bubbling down the stream, and when we dipped our toes in, we’re pleasantly surprised that the water was not so cold (waterfalls back home always have super chilled water!)

In the early afternoon we arrived in Lovina, we checked into our hotel, and then wandered down to the beach to check out the local scene. Lovina is a much quieter town than Legian and Ubud. You still get hassled by hawkers, but they seem to be less insistent here. We checked out a few stalls and had a look at the beach which has black sand. Because there are a number if volcanoes in Bali, numerous beaches have black sand, I think that perhaps it is volcanic ash or dust. Yvonne found out that the sand, particularly when wet, is not as dense as the sand beach home, and walking in the water, she was quickly sucked into the sand up to her knees…and lost her flip flops in the muddy suction. After collecting some more shoes from the hotel we sat down at one of the beachside cafe’s for a late lunch and a beer. While sitting there we chatted to one of the locals, who we then hired for the following day.

After lunch we figured that in being at are relaxed beach location, we should indulge in some relaxation, so we went to one of the massage parlours near our hotel, where we both had an hour traditional Balinese. At $8 each, perhaps I should do this every day?!?

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We spent our evening at a local restaurant by the beach, the Bali Bintang, where we got chatting to one of the staff, Budi. Budi said that there was a big volleyball match on, the semi-final and Lovina was playing a team from somewhere near Denpasar (I didn’t recognise the name of the village, so promptly forgot what I was told). So when Budi knocked off work, his friend Gede (pronounced G’Day and I am assuming it’s not spelled that way) collected us from our hotel on their motorbikes and drove us to the next village to join in the fun.

There was a big crowd and everyone was excited! The game started and both teams were scoring, but soon the other team started to have a clear lead. After about 30mins we realised our team didn’t have a chance so we got out of there and headed to the pub (Budi had bet quite a bit of money, so we think he may have been trying to drown his sorrows).

We spent the few hours of the night enjoying live music and bintang beer at Poco’s. Though the music was quite tragic and mostly reggae, we got up and boogied the night away, crashing back at the hotel after midnight (with such a late night, I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a pumpkin!)

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Day 8
With not much sleep but no hangover (bintang is definitely not what you would choose to drink if you were aiming to get drunk. I don’t like getting drunk, so my previous evenings drink of choice was a good one), we got up in time to be collected by our driver for the day (well first half of the day as we planned a relaxed afternoon).

We drove out to a neighbouring village to visit an Buddhist monastery, Brahma Vihara Arama. It was nice to see a different style of temple, and this one was built into the hill and had several different levels. Near the top was a beautiful meditation garden with a large shrine to Buddha, the shrine had a small moat filled with white and purple water lilies as well a some pink lotus flowers. I found the design to have better flow and more of a calming effect than the Hindu temples we had seen.

Our second stop was Air Panas Banjar, natural hot springs in the jungle. There were three pools, a long narrow one at the top that cascaded into a larger one below. These both had a row of sculptures (not quite gargoyles, but that style) which served as water spouts into the pools. Under these water spouts was the place to be, with the warm water massaging your neck and back. It was so relaxing! The third pool was set to the side of the other two and had three spouts set much higher up, the pounding massage you got from standing under these was intense, but very welcome!!

While it was really pleasant to enjoy a natural warm water massage the volume of people on the murky, smelly water meant that we didn’t stay in for very long. So after our natural water massages we headed back to the hotel for a good scrub in the shower!

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Since we were both quite tired we spent the remainder of the day doing our own thing. To start with I attempted to walk to Anturan. The area called Lovina is actually comprised of two villages: Kalibukbuk and Anturan. They are 5km apart and Kalibukbuk is the busier of the two and consider to be the centre of Lovina, this is where we are staying. So anyway, I thought I would attempt to walk along the coast to Anturan. The only problem with this idea, aside from the distance, is that there is no path. So I walked along the beach for a stretch, the walked alongside some rice paddies, bush bashed a little and wandered through local villages.in one of the villages a small boy came running out to say hello to me, then he held out his hand to me asking for money, I didn’t give him any yet he continued to follow me, once he caught up to me he actually tried to open my handbags grab some money for himself. A firm “No!” and a stern look made him turn away, cheeky little bugger!!

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After wandering in the heat for sometime, I eventually reached a dead end where it was either walk through a rice paddie or swim and I gave up, I asked a local villager to give me a lift on his motorbike, back to town, where I promptly found a cafe with wifi to sit down and have a drink and catch up on email.

Having recovered from my failed explorations and with a tummy full of satay and vanilla milkshake, I headed back to the hotel, making a minor detour to a massage parlour along the way. An hour long foot massage (again for just $8) was absolute bliss!! I’m pretty sure I actually twitched myself awake a few times during the massage. Once it was over I dawdled across the street to the hotel (I literally mean dawdled because I was so blissed out it was amazing I could stay upright!!) and zonked out on the bed for a solid hour!

After I caught up on some much needed ZZZ’s I spent some time blogging and reading my book before Yvonne and I headed out for some dinner.

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Day 9
At 9am we wandered down to the beach where a guy called Ketut took us out to a local reef in his boat for some snorkelling. The coral wasn’t very brightly coloured, but the reef was still teeming with fish. I found Nemo as well as quite a few others. There were many beautiful colours, yellows, blue’s, purples, oranges and many different variations and patterns. The water was lovely and warm, we spent an hour or two bobbing around in the water. It was a very chilled out start to the day!

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We spent the next few hours chilling out, reading, emailing, eating etc, at 3pm our friends Budi & Gede collected us and drove us into the hills on their motorbikes to check out the Aling-Aling Waterfall. Yvonne and I both thought it was nicer than Git-Git! It had quite a lot of water-flow and the water was falling from quite a height. The noise was thunderous and even from 50metres away we were getting soaked by the spray.

After the waterfall visit the guys had to get to work, so Yvonne and I enjoyed a wander along the beach chatting to locals and taking in a beautiful sunset. I found it particularly nice to watch the local kids silhouetted against the sunset, hanging out on the jetty and jumping into the water.

What was supposed to be a quiet evening watching live music at the bar, didn’t turn out to be so quiet. We had a few drinks, requested a few songs and soon enough they were closing the bar. So the staff and a dutch girl that we met, joined us at our table for some drinks. Then a guy called Bing decided we needed tequila shots, but the bar we were at had no tequila, so we all loaded into his car and headed to another bar. There we had tequila shots, made some new friends and danced the night away (well the dancing part was mostly just me). I think I crashed out in bed around 3am.
Although I didn’t plan a big night, it was a fitting way to end our stay in Lovina and to get a chance to party with our new friends.

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Ubud

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Day 4
We checked out of our hotel at 9:30am, much to the disappointment of the lovely hotel staff. Our driver for the day (I didn’t actually catch his name) took us down to the Bukit Peninsula where we started off by exploring Ulu Watu temple. Ulu Watu is at the top of a 75metre cliff and was yet another stunning example of Balinese temple architecture. At the bottom of the cliffs was beautiful blue water with waves rolling in, crashing against the cliff walls.

From Ulu Watu we headed into Jimabaran to have a look at some traditional markets, but unfortunately by the time we got there, they were finished for the day.

We continued on our merry little way. Following the coastline in a north east direction, up to Semarapura to check out the remnants of the Royal Palace, Taman Kertha Gosa. Semarapura used to be the capital of Bali, which is why the royal palace was built there, but most of the palace was destroyed by the Dutch in 1908, I assume this was when they were trying to colonise Indonesia. The palace still had some parts remaining, the high court which was a small, elevated room in a corner of the compound and a temple type place in the centre of the from of the compound. The temple type place was also elevated, and in addition it was surrounded by a moat full of water lillies and fish – so pretty!

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Back in the car we headed towards the mountains, stopping briefly for some lunch from a street stall, photo opportunities of gorgeous rice terraces and also to pick up tomatoes. At one stage we driving along a very narrow back road, and nearing a corner our driver tooted the horn to warn oncoming traffic that we were there. A truck loaded up with fruit and veggies promptly flew around the corner and swerved to avoid us, which made them lose a large basket full of tomatoes all over the road. So we helped them pick them up off the road.

Our last stop on the way to Ubud was at a coffee plantation (similar to the one I went to on the day of the bike ride), we tried some tasty coffee’s, as well as the famous Kopi Luwak! The view from the coffee plantation was looking across a valley to one of the prettiest rice terraces I have seen (unfortunately it was quite glary, so the photos won’t do it justice).

After a day of sightseeing and full of coffee, we got to our destination of the day, Ubud, by late afternoon where we checked into a fabulous hotel in the rainforest! We enjoyed the last part of the day with a swim in the pool and some down time on the deck of our villa. So relaxing!

Day 5
The morning started with a trip into town where I checked out Ubud Palace, quite small but very pretty, had a look at Ubud Market, wandered down Monkey Forest Road and checked out the shops, and made our way down to Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

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Monkey Forest Sanctuary was teeming with macaques, as expected. The little, and big, guys were awfully keen to nab food from anyone who had some, sometimes climbing onto people’s shoulders to get at it! I wasn’t keen for the feral monkey experience, so didn’t bring in any fruit. The temples within the Monkey Forest Sanctuary were also quite pretty and gave us another opportunity to appreciate traditional Balinese architecture, it was also nice to see the monkeys make it their home. They would sit on statues grooming each other, lay on tables getting their bellies scratched by their mates. In the centre point of the sanctuary was a fountain and the monkeys had a fabulous time diving off the statues into the pool of water and swimming around. It was very entertaining to see the monkeys at play, often launching themselves off a statue to dive bomb on top of another monkey swimming around!!

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After our monkey visit, we spent some more time exploring the streets of Ubud, before heading back to the hotel for a quick dip in the pool. After a short break, we headed back into town to grab some dinner before heading to a traditional dance performance: Fire Kecak and Trance.

The performance started with men sitting in concentric circles around a big candelabra, chanting, singing and swaying. The men continued to chant as some elaborately dressed ladies came into the centre of the circle and danced – they had ornate gold headdresses, and wore brightly coloured silk sarongs, with gold embellishments. They danced very deliberate moves, with their fingers and toes curled upwards, and their head jolting from side to side, eyes wide looking left and right. Balinese dance uses every part of the body to convey the story, and it was really interesting to watch. The last scene of the day involved a large pile of coconut shells being lit on fire in the middle of the hall, a man on a ‘horse’ danced around it before kicking the pile of burning shells to scatter them all over the floor (I was worried that it would hit me!). While it is quite hard to describe the dance, it was a very interesting experience.

Day 6
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The alarm was set for early morning – we headed off to the fresh produce market in the heart of Ubud, here we saw beautiful colours and many interesting foods: snake beans, chillies, vanilla beans, dragon fruit, fresh fish and shrimp, pig trotters, freshly plucked chickens, live chickens and much more. This market expedition was in preparation for our cooking class, so that we. Could see where all the fresh produce was sourced.

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After our market excursion, we had some time to spend before the cooking class. So we headed out to Goa Gajah – Elephant Cave. It was built in the 9th century to serve as a sanctuary. The Elephant Cave itself is part of a large-ish complex that borders on the jungle. The facade of the cave is carved to show menacing creatures and demons. The main figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname Elephant Cave. Around the rest of the complex is a bathing area, some other temples and further into the jungle, the is a bridge across the river, passing by a waterfall, and a track that goes out to a jungle temple. It was quite a beautiful site, and with all the tracks heading off into the jungle, I’m sure one could spend hours exploring!

On the way back to the hotel we made a brief stop at Barc. Which is a volunteer organisation involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of Bali dogs. The Balinese don’t seem to care a great deal about their pets, and there are many stray dogs, dogs being beaten, dogs getting run over and left to die. So while we didn’t do a great deal to help out, we did make a donation and learn a bit about what the organisation does and how they work. It’s very sad to see so many dogs that have been treated so poorly. Hopefully the people’s view of pets will change, and until it does Barc will be helping out all the poor puppies and kitties.

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At midday we headed down to the hotel restaurant where we learned to cook an appetiser, Rujak Segar (fresh fruit salad with a sour/chilli sauce); a main meal comprising of Satay Lilit Ayam (chicken mince, coconut and curry satay sticks) and Lawar Bali (curry vegetable, chicken and coconut); and a dessert Kolak Pisang (poached banana pieces in a palm sugar syrup). It was all delicious!!! It wasn’t a very hands on cooking class, the only things we did were chop veggies and put meat on skewers, but it was still very interesting. At the end of the lesson we sat down with a beer and got to eat what we made – then we waddled around for the next few hours!!!

Having had a busy morning, we spent the afternoon exploring Ubud a bit more. I went out to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which turned out to be a stupid idea…they are the worst botanical gardens I have ever seen! Poorly tended, over grown paths, paths that are VERY slippery..I landed hard on my bottom once, and barely managed to stay upright multiple other times!
After the gardens I did some window shopping before stopping for a fresh juice and to write some postcards. I didn’t get very far with my postcard writing as some drunk ladies at the next table asked me to join them. They were pretty entertaining, but at the same time offensive in that way bogan drunks can be. So after joining them for a cocktail, I politely excused myself.

Yvonne and I found a great little ‘warung’ (food stall) to have some tasty dinner, before having a drink or two at the pub.

Ubud has been a success, time to explore further north!!!

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Bali Belly???

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With the new four term school year in Tassie, term one break is already upon us. What better way to relax than head overseas?

My friend Yvonne who has never been out of Australia was keen to join me on this short adventure, so we booked some tickets and headed to Bali for roughly two weeks.

The flight over was pretty uninteresting but we arrived safely in Denpasar at 11pm local time and were collected by our driver Sabdah, who took us to our hotel in Legian. After a whole day in transit, we checked in, politely drank our welcome drink (it was a clear drink but has a strong flavour of cinnamon…weird!), and soon after crashed for the night.

Day 1:
We woke up groggy and tired, but unable to continue sleeping, so we dragged our sleepy selves out of bed, had some breakfast and hit the streets for some exploring. We wandered down the main strip of Legian and then continued through to Kuta Beach. We did some haggling for bintang tank tops (they make great gifts for people at home!) stopped for some chilled mocktails, checked out a few shops and then booked an afternoon tour.

Our tour driver collected us from the hotel at 2:30 and we headed out to The Royal Temple of Mengwi. Its Balinese name Pura Taman Ayun means ‘Garden Temple in the Water’. It is one of the most important temples in Bali. Built in 1634 by a King of the Mengwi dynasty, the complex is on an island in a river and its inner temple is surrounded by a moat. While it wasn’t as big as I expected (based on pictures I had seen) it was really quite beautiful. The only thing that was a little disturbing were the chickens in tiny cages in the first courtyard of the complex. The Balinese have always enjoyed cockfights, and they still continue to be popular, we were worried that the chooks we saw had a predetermined future, which was a little sad to see.

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Our next stop was Alas Kedaton, often referred to as Monkey Forest. There is a temple, Alas Kedaton Temple, which borders on a 12,000 hectare forest, where monkeys and bats live. Here you are able to wander around with a guide who explains how the monkeys live freely and choose to visit (clearly they are being fed, or they wouldn’t choose to visit). She also explained that the monkeys were macaque’s and the male have sex up to 10 times a day…that’s why we could see so many adorable babies. Some as young as a few days old….soooooooo cute!!! The monkeys weren’t anywhere near as aggressive and grabby as the ones we came across in Malaysia, here I even got to hold the hand of a little guy!! Such soft hands. It was beautiful to see all the monkeys…and not fear for my life!

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The last stop of the tour was sunset at Tanah Lot and it’s neighbour Pura Batu Balong. Tanah Lot is a small island with a temple on top. Pura Batu Balong is two small bays further along the coastline and is a small temple perched on a cliff top, which is accessed via a natural bridge. The two temples were beautiful, and the coastline was stunning, lush green gardens on the cliffs above black sandy beaches – a perfect location for a sunset! Unfortunately for us, the sky wasn’t participating with the romantic notion of a cliff top temple silhouetted against a striking sunset, because it was cloudy and the sunset wasn’t colourful. I was a little disappointed with the lack of sunset, but as I said, the location itself was pretty impressive and it was a really pleasant end to the day.

Day 2
After an early night, solid sleep and a tiny sleep in, we were feeling much more ready to take on the world. After some brekky we hit the streets once more. We headed in the direction of Seminyak, we checked out a few markets and wandered last the beach before catching a taxi to Seminyak, where we checked out Pura Petitinget temple. To make ourselves respectful of the Hindu faith we hired sarongs before wandering into the temple. The temple was quite pretty and it was good to wander around by ourselves – we were the only people there – but on the whole it wasn’t amazing to look at. Possibly not worth the effort of getting there.
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After looking at the temple we headed back towards more central Seminyak, where we found a great cafe to stop for a coffee and a small bite to eat. We also took the time to check out a few markets stalls, jewellery and clothes mostly, and clearly designed for a more upmarket target audience than what we had experienced in the Legian/Kuta region – it was a nice change.

After some more wandering we decided it was time for a break, so we caught a taxi back to the hotel where we had a dip in the pool and spent some time lounging around the pool. The late afternoon was spent wandering some previously unexplored streets. I found some cute items for a certain cute niece of mine. I also found an interesting assortment of fresh fruit, so it was experimentation time! I got some Rambutan…a favourite of mine, some other small fruits that I think were called Longon and some freaky looking fruit called Salak. The Salak was brown and was scaly like a snake, only they were hard scales. The fruit itself had an ok flavour, but the texture was a bit bizarre and made your mouth feel like it was being dried out, in contrast the Longon are juicy and sweet…yum!!

Day 3:
I was collected from the hotel at 7:30am along with a family from Perth and a couple from Perth, we all headed to the hills. Along the way we stopped at a coffee roastery where we got to try 8 different coffees and teas, and for those willing to pay extra, Kopi Luwak. Kopi Luwak is said to be the worlds most expensive coffee, the coffee beans are eaten by the civet cat. Once the cat poops the beans back out, the beans are cleaned up and ground into coffee. Surprisingly it was actually quite nice coffee, even if the idea is pretty gross!

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After our coffee break we continued on up into the mountains, up to Kintamani, where we stopped for breakfast. The view while we ate was stunning! A view of Mount Batur (an active volcano…no eruptions while we were there though) and the beautiful blue Lake Batur.

As we were finally at the top of the mountains, it was time to head back down…on mountain bikes!
We rode through villages, past rice terraces, through farmlands…it was all stunning! The local children loved it, and when they saw us coming they would run to the road and smile and wave, calling out “Hello”.

Along the way we made a few stops. the first one was at a village temple, there were people everywhere. Cockfighting is a big part of Balinese culture and they all love to gamble on these fights, so we stopped to watch. It starts with all the people determining which roosters will fight. Then each of the roosters has a razor sharp blade strapped to one of their legs, the blade is probably about two inches long. Then the first round starts, the two owners squat in the middle of e ring, plucking the roosters feathers, poking the beak at the other rooster, getting them all fired up. The crowd stands and calls out words, also trying to aggravate the birds. Then the two owners step back and throw the roosters into the ring, where there is a great deal of flapping, some blood and very quickly it is all over. If the losing bird is weak but not close to death, the two birds are put in a small cage together until there is a death. Of the three rounds we saw, the worst one was when the roosters was pure white, it just highlighted, literally, the brutality of the sport. I was pretty glad when the group decided to continue riding!

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Our next two stops were both about rice. The first was when we saw rice being harvested, they were using a harvesting machine. I think the people were cutting the stalks and feeding it into the machine, then machine then stripped the leafy stuff away from the rice, so they could collect the rice. The second stop was the same thing, rice harvesting, but using the traditional method. People would cut small bunches of stalks, then walk over to a big bin type thing which had an angled wooden board in it, there you would bash the stalks against the wood, to make the rice fall off the stalks. Then you would pass the bundle of stalks to a lady who would strip the last bits from the stalk and throw out the rest. A few of us had a go at bashing the stalks…it was kind of fun, but we got covered in leafy and dusty stuff, and I don’t think any of us were that successful at stripping the stalks of rice.

The remainder of the ride was very pleasant, we had a few drops of rain, but thankfully the sky didn’t really open up. The ride ended in a quiet little village, where we were invited into someone’s home to enjoy a traditional Balinese buffet lunch. It was oh so tasty!!!!!
Then it was time for us to pile back into our minivan and drive back to town.

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We spent the evening enjoying some fantastic food, cheap drinks and live music. A great way to spend our last evening in Legian.

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