Bali - October 2017
In October of 2017, Heerali and I took our most ambitious trip to southeast Asia. We planned two full weeks in Bali, Indonesia. We flew into LAX, and from there we departed to Taiwan via EVA Airlines which then connected us to Bali. Once, we landed, our next step was to find a taxi to our hotel. We had to haggle quite a bit but we soon found one which gave us a reasonable price to our hotel in Ubud. The travel time from Ngurah Rai International Airport to Ubud does take around 2 hours, but it is a great experience to see different aspects of the country. During our two weeks in Bali, we planned on traveling to may different regions of the island so we wanted a hotel that would be centrally located as our main hub from travel. We found a fairly new Boutique hotel called Tapa Kawi Villas. It's located a few miles north of the main city center of Ubud but overall this hotel was ideal for us to travel around the island. TIP: Uber is available in Bali and provides safe transportation for almost half the cost of the local taxi drivers. Uber was our best friend during our stay. Unfortunately, the local taxi drivers will harass Uber drives because how much cheaper it is. This makes it difficult to get Uber drivers in city centers and close to major landmarks where taxi drivers typically wait for tourist. You may have to walk a few blocks away before Uber drivers will be willing to pick you up.
DAY 1: We were still trying to get over our remaining jet lag so we planned on taking it fairly easy the first day. We called our Uber driver, who we befriended fairly quickly, and we visited the famous Tegallalang Rice Terraces. We spent a good two our at the rice terrance waking around and taking pictures. We sat at local coffee/tea shop along the Terrace to take in the view one last time before we left.
Next we made our way to Tirta Empul Water Temple. Here we participated in the sacred purification ritual which was a pretty cool experience. Make sure you bring a change of clothes if you plan on participating in the ritual.
DAY 2: The second day we decided to have a free day as we were still battling jet lag and it was raining quite heavily. We travelled into Ubud city again where we spent the day relaxing and meditating at Yoga Barn. It was nice spending the day disconnected and sharing stories with others from around the world.
DAY 3: The next day we woke up very early in the morning as we had an exciting day traveling towards the northern end of the island. There we had an exciting day full of waterfalls and temples. We first arrived to Nungnung Waterfall. Fortunately, we were the first ones here so we got to enjoy the waterfall all to ourselves. It's a pretty long hike to the waterfall but the good news is that it's a paved path. Just to note, many of the major waterfalls have an entrance fee but it amounts to $1 or so per person.
Next we travelled further north to our next waterfall, Sekumpul Waterfall. This is by far the most beautiful waterfall we have ever seen. A word of caution, the hike to Sekumpul is difficult and much longer then Nungnung. By the time we reached, it was around noon and very hot and humid. This made the trek more difficult but it was well worth it. This is a site to not miss.
Lastly, we visited Pura Ulun Danu Bratan water temple. Here we had a relaxing evening and dinner at a local restaurant recommended by another couple we met. From there, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the next day.
As if the day before wasn't enough excitement, we started our 4th day in Bali repeating the same. An early morning start to us to a closer waterfall located right in the heart of Ubud. Kanto Lampo waterfall is tucked away near a residential area. We had to ask several locals to help us find it. The hike was much simpler compared to Nungnung and Sekumpul, which was a pleasant change.
We spent some time walking along the river and climbing the waterfall. This is a fairly popular waterfall as it is easy access in Ubud. We enjoyed our time and from here we made our way to east Bali to see the mighty Mount Agung and Pura Lempuyang temple. The roadway travel along the coast where we say boats and fairies which you could take to Nusa Panida or the Gili Islands. Our driver mentioned a place called Blue Lagoon which sounded pretty nice, so we made a pit-stop on the way. We swam in the ocean and enjoyed the secluded beach, had a great lunch and headed on our way. The road to east Bali is quite tortuous, fortunately neither of us are known to get car sick. We passed by monumentous Mount Agung which sits at ~10,000ft above sea level. We arrived to Pura Lempuyang temple. Where we were greeted by the local priest. It is tradition to cover ones arms and legs when entering a temple, and so we were provided
with a traditional "Sarong" while at the temple. Through the temple gates, Mount Agung can be seen on a clear day. Our day there was fairly cloudy and the ideal view was obscured, but its still quite a view to see. The local priest told us you have to come earlier in the day to have a clear view of Mount Agung as afternoons are usually cloudy.
We left Pura Lampuyang to make it to our final visit to Tirta Gangga Water Palace. A beautiful garden with koi ponds with water stones, fountains, sculptures and fountains.
After a busy day, we made our way back to Ubud, but not without one final view of Mount Agung to take your breath away!
After two full eventful days, we decided to take a day which was more restful and low key. But of course three waterfalls did not fulfill our needs. We started our morning with one final hike at Tegenungan Waterfall. It's a short commute from Ubud and an easy hike in comparison to others.
From here we wanted a "beach bum" day. We called our faithful Uber and travelled to Changgu Beach. We spent the day walking up and down the streets and window shopping. This part of Bali if fairly westernized with surf shops, restaurants, lifestyle. A lot of young professionals, digital nomads and surfers can be found around Canggu. We stopped at the famous Nalu Bowl and enjoyed delicious smoothie bowls. The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the beach and watched a beautiful sunset.
There are some great beach front bars to relax, meet locals/travellers and listen to music.
Lazy day. We slept in, spent the morning at our hotel and relaxed in the pool. We went to Ubud city later in the day and visited Yoga Barn one last time. At night we watch a traditional "Kecak" dance depicting the Hindu story of Rama and Sita. We had an exciting day to look forward to next morning.
Another early morning. Our pickup transport arrived at 5am and took us to the eastern ports. We boarded a fast boat to Nusa Penida! Our first stop, the beautiful view at Kelingking Beach.
Once we arrived to Kelingking point, no words could describe the view. We asked our tour guide if we could trek down to the beach. He said we could but "it's not easy" and we would have to take out one activity on the tour to make up for the time. Without hesitation we started to make our way down to the beach.
Now, a word of caution, the hike down to the beach is not for the faint of heart. The pathway is narrow and rocky. The railing is make-shift bamboo and twine. Halfway down, the path starts to get steep with cutout foot holes in the side of the mountain. And the whole time, no canopy cover from the sun. Make sure to have proper shoes, sun protection and water if you plan to venture down to the beach. Would we do it again? Absolutely! One could only understand why once you reach the untouched beach and crystal waters.
Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye and we made the trek back up. If hiking down was hard, imagine the hike back up... Our next two stops included Broken Bay and Angel Billabong.
After another whirlwind and tiring day. We made our way back to the port, boarded our fast boat back to the main island and back to our hotel for some R&R that evening.
We spent a good two to three hours on the beach. A few other brave soles made there way down and enjoyed an experience very few probably have.
You would think after seven action packed days, you would think we would slow things down. But we kept the excitement and adventures going. Day 8 was full of animals. Our first stop, was the Elephant Safari Park in Tegalalang. We got to spend a few hours with these gental giants. We got to bathe the elephants, feed them and some play time. One thing we regret was doing the elephant ride around the park. I don't agree with treating them like carnival rides. Overall, I do believe the animals are well taken care of and I would recommend everyone to visit and play with elephants.
Next, we entered the Sacred Monkey Forest. These monkey are mischievous and always hungry for bananas. It is safe to enter and there are temple workers who make sure the monkeys behave.
We got rained out the rest of the day. Our plan was to go to the Kanto Lampo ridge walk but we never made it do to the weather. We rested the rest of the day and called it an early night as we had another early morning again. There seems to be a pattern here....
Our alarm went off at 3AM, ugh, and started and early morning hike up Mount Batur to see the sunrise behind Mount Agung. Again another physical hike, make sure to pack water and snacks. Once at the top, our guide cooked us a delicious breakfast and coffee while we watched the sunrise. It can get cold at the top of the mountain so make sure you bring a light jacket or sweatshirt.
Once we got back to our hotel, we went back to sleep for a few hours and enjoyed our last lunch at Tapa Kawi Villa. We had one last thing to cross off our list during our time in Bali...
After such an active trip we wanted one final day to rest and enjoy each other during our last day in Bali. We booked one night at Kamandalu Resort and Spa. We walked the grounds, enjoyed the pool and spoiled ourselves as much as possible. It's a beautiful resort with an amazing staff. It was the perfect way to end our Bali adventure before heading back home.