After our sunrise tour of Mount Bromo on Java, we hopped on on of the big long-distance busses bound for the island of Bali. It was a long, hot day. Although some vendors would hop on the bus to sell snacks and drinks whenever they had a chance, there were no stops for meals. It was pretty late by the time we hopped off the bus at Medewi Beach on the northwest coast, but we checked in in time to grab a quick bite at the hotel restaurant. I jumped for the chef’s salad, which had too much dressing, but I was excited to see fresh vegetables after a long time without them.
One big difference between Bali and Java is that Bali is mostly Hindu while Java is mostly Muslim. Everywhere we went in Bali we saw offerings of flowers, bits of food, and incense sticks (like in the picture above). There are often placed at the entrances to businesses and along the sidewalk, so you have to look out so as not to step on them!
In the morning we caught a local bus to Pura Rambut Siwi, where we were able to take a nearly private tour in English. They were preparing for a ceremony at the temple. You can see the offerings being blessed and sprinkled with coconut water.
After that we visited Pura Tanah Lot and then went to Ubud, where we would be staying for the next few days. For dinner, we ate at Ary’s Warung: the guidebook was right about it being pretentious…I was attracted to the spice roasted duck that the guide mentioned, but it was certainly overpriced. A visit to the restroom revealed that the toilet didn’t even flush properly! After dinner, we headed down the street to Bumbu Restaurant, where we registered for their Balinese cooking class for the next day.
Breakfast at our hotel was fresh fruit, eggs, and green pancakes filled with fresh coconut and sliced bananas (I actually had mine with no bananas).
The green color comes from water blended with pandan leaves.
We took an afternoon walk in the Monkey Forest. Vendors outside the gates will sell you bananas, but look out! If these guys think you’ve got food, they’ll jump all over you. We saw another quick character snatch an old lady’s water bottle, unscrew the top, and guzzle it down faster than you can say “bad monkey!”
After seeing Ibu Oka’s babi guling, spiced roasted suckling pig, on No Reservations, I was sure we’d have to try it. This is the “Special Suckling Pig” plate, which comes with vegetables, meat, a few slices of blood sausage, pieces of crispy skin, deep fried intestine, spicy sauce over rice. We also tried the “Different Suckling Pig” plate, which had pretty much the same stuff, but possible a few different cuts of pork and larger portions (the rice is on a separate plate). It was so good that I worked hard to finish it all, even though it was a little spicy for my taste (I am a real wimp about spicy food). To see the roasting process in progress, check out the Indonesia episode of No Reservations.
After a morning rainstorm we took a walk in the rice paddies. The trail gets a little faint in places, so it’s easy to get off the trail, but we kept walking and got back on the right track soon enough (but I did slip and get my feet wet in an irrigation ditch. Oops!) Unlike in Japan, where the planting and harvesting happens all at once, it’s easy to grow rice year-round in Bali, so we saw some folks harvesting their fields, while some were empty, and others were still lush and green.
Along the way we saw some chickens. A few of the chicks had fallen into the irrigation ditch and couldn’t get out so Alex stepped in to rescue them. My hero!
Along the walk we passed a bunch of small art studios. One also sold organic vanilla, cloves, and coffee, but it was closed. We did get to see the growing vanilla beans though.
This cow was looking cute while resting in the shade.
We also saw lots of ducks in the rice paddies. Duck is a local specialty in Ubud, and it was easy to see why, they’re everywhere in the rice fields, feasting on whatever goodies they can find.
This flock lived behind our hotel. They were cute to watch during the day but a little bit too loud at night. A few times we saw the farmers come by for a harvest. As you can see, they like to hang out together on the berm between the ponds, so the farmer just uses a long stick to scare a few into the field below and the rest rush to follow, not knowing that his friend is waiting there to capture them. I guess there’s safety in numbers, except for the unlucky few.
Speaking of ducks, we enjoyed a late lunch at Bebek Bengil (otherwise known as the Dirty Duck Diner), which was recommended by the Miele Guide that I picked up in Singapore. This is the amazingly crispy Bebek Bengil Crispy Duck. It was delicious!
This clever fellow knew that if he stuck around he could get a taste too after the customers left. We watched him run off with some rib bones from the table next to us.
On the last day in Bali we went to Jimbaran beach for a seafood barbecue lunch. We could watch the boats out on the waves while we ate.
There is a whole row of restaurants along the street. According to the driver we hired they’re all pretty much the same so we went to his friend’s place (everybody knows somebody they can hook up it seems like).
What a delicious lunch it was! We went a little crazy, but we wanted to make sure to try a good variety of dishes. I recommend going with a big group if you can so that you can try a lot without ending up with too much food. We ordered prawns, clams, and fish, which also came with garlic, sambals, baked potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. All of the seafood was grilled over coconut shells and basted with a tasty sweet and spicy sauce. Mmm… it was so good!
We enjoyed our meals with sweetened coconut water, which was a tasty tropical treat.
See more about our trip to Bali including lots more monkey photos at Alex’s photoblog.