We spent a few blissful days in Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali. We visited the sweeping rice terraces, the monkey forest (where the cheeky little guys tried to open my bag and rob me) and a sacred temple where you dunk yourself under multiple water taps to bring yourself good luck (I think… I just kind of copied what everyone else was doing). We also went to a coffee plantation and tried the infamous Kopi Luwak (also known as Cat-poo-chino as the beans must first pass through the digestive track of an Asian palm civet, which resembles a mongoose. It tastes like regular drip). We stayed in an idyllic little resort where we largely had the pool and small restaurant to ourselves. It was perfectly relaxing after the early mornings and hikes in java.
We also did a cooking course, which I couldn’t recommend more highly. It was called Balinese Farm Cooking School. We rode motorbikes out to the farm, where it takes place. You then pick several of the herbs and vegetables you will be using yourself and start a guided, 6-course meal. The meals were delicious, fresh and had a ton of variety. There were flavours I had never had together before and our instructor was a sweet, patient young Balinese man who we chatted with throughout. I have already tried several of the recipes at home (with some substitutions).
From Bali, we took the slow boat to Lombok, the island to the right. We had read that this was like the Bali of 20 years ago, largely untouched by tourists and equally beautiful beaches. Granted, we only went up the west coast, but I am inclined to disagree. Notwithstanding the fact that I spent an overnight doubled over in pain from a stomach bug, the island didn’t have the same crisp white beaches and walkable streets that we found in Bali.
But, no matter, as it was only a hop, skip and a jump away from the tiny, carless Gili islands, to the northwest. We took a speedboat out and spent about 5-6 days on these miniature islands, walking the circumferences in about an hour and lounging and reading on the beach, drinking too many banana smoothies and Bintang beers. Time was a bit of a blur on these islands, as the days all blended into each other but we made a conscious effort to just slow down and take it easy, as we were rounding out the final weeks of our ‘round-the-world tour. We ate at some nice restaurants and had plenty of fresh seafood. I did a yoga and aqua-yoga class. We snorkeled, we island-hopped. We slept and swam. And it was perfect.
From the Gilis, we made our way back to Bali, this time to the southern peninsula. We parked for two days on the east coast of Sanur, a sleepy town affectionately referred to by locals as ‘snore.’ Then we made our way across to the east side, where the action was. We spent another two days in the Australian-packed neighbouring towns of Kuta and Seminyak. It was fun to see so many pizza joints and burger shops again after being away for so long but 2 days was more than enough. It was a very party-fueled area and hectic. We couldn’t walk more than 10 meters on the beach without being offered a surf lesson.
We decided to spend our last 5 days at Jimbaran beach. We took motorbikes out to the Uluwatu temple, which was beautiful, perched high up on a cliff over the ocean. Less beautiful was the shake down from the police that we got on the way back to our resort. Bali is beautiful, but the police are very corrupt.
Aside from that, we spent our last days lounging by the pool, walking along the beach, eating fresh seafood and enjoying our cozy room. On our last night, we watched the sun set over the ocean and had a bittersweet last dinner on the beach, soaking up the sound of the waves, before beginning our long journey home. ❤