Thursday, July 13, 2017

Basking in Bali: Day 2 at the Island's Cultural Heart - Ubud (Jan 2017)

DAY 2: Farewell, Bali Culture Guesthouse... Hello, the rest of the island...

Check out day at Bali Culture Guesthouse and we were sad we only had to stay there for a night. We all agreed that we would want to come back and next time it's going to be for a few days.

We woke up early to a simple but filling breakfast of toast, juice, tea, coffee and a selection of fruits. 

We could get used to this food and service....
and this sight every morning, even noon or night!

eating healthily on a holiday
fresh pineapple, banana, watermelon and papaya

As we were having our breakfast, we noticed that there were these beautifully arranged and strategically placed offerings around the Guesthouse grounds. We were told these were for the spirits. I did some reading and found out that these were called cenang sari.
thank you for this wonderful family who have hosted us
and for these amazing first 2 days in this island

Canang Sari are daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus accompanied by praise and prayers to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (the All-in-one God) for the peace of the world. Literally, Canang means small palm-leaf basket as a tray, and sari means essence. Canang can also be broken down into 2 syllables: ca meaning beautiful and nang meaning purpose. 

a closer look into these aesthetically pleasing and soul enriching floral offerings
As we enjoyed our simple but nutritious breakfast, the young one could not keep himself away from the pool. He had one toast and jumped into the pool he went.
he was first in the pool again
How I would love to have meals beside the pool often, overlooking the boys having the time of their lives enjoying the refreshing water. This villa was smacked in the middle of a residential area and yet the ambiance was serene (except for the morning and afternoon cock-a-doodle doos).
This flower fell from the frangipani tree in the villa grounds. What a lovely scent it gives.
we squeezed some minutes of couple time to... or I should say seconds, as the boys jumped into the pool immediately after this shot, and the shots after this.
We were so lucky because during our stay at the Bali Culture Guesthouse the other villa was not occupied. We had the pool to ourselves and we made the most of our time taking advantage of the pool.

having a splashing good time!
Jump shot after jump shot. Video after video.
we did not want to leave this pool nor the villa

But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. So after some water fun, we showered, packed our stuff for the next leg of our Bali experience and took some photos while waiting for our pick up. 
we really loved this place and would want to come back soon (how many times have I mentioned that?!)
if only we could bring home these artfully crafted wooden furniture - souvenir from Bali

Pak Ketut, our driver cum tour guide for the day arrived a few minutes earlier. We agreed on the pick up time of 10am and he patiently waited for us at the nearby vacant lot. For IDR400,000 he brought us around the island, to some of the places we wanted to see given the time we had. I also asked for his suggestions and we ended up adding some stops along the way. Pak Ketut was also a pleasant one to meet. He was a bit quiet at first but as we drove around the island he slowly opened up and made our tour of Bali even more interesting.

Here were the places we visited (in chronological order):


About 20-30 minutes drive (depending on traffic conditions) from Bali Culture Guesthouse, one of the main attractions in Ubud, and Bali in general, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces are famous for the beautiful scenery of terraced rice paddies.  The part of Jalan Raya Tegallalang overlooking the rice terraces was lined with shops selling local products from food to clothes and art masterpieces. Splash of colors everywhere. 

Pak Ketut dropped us off along the road near the shops and nearest to the entrance to the rice terraces. We bought some cold drinks and went down one of the staircases to have our first, closer look, at the famed tourist icon.
our first family photo with the Tegallalang Rice Terraces and masterpieces of local artists

it was really hot and someone was not too happy that we had to explore the rice fields at this time of the day
here we were at the part of the terraces which was closer to the road.... and there, as can be seen in the background, was where we were heading as we explored the fields

Ira's warming up to the idea of the walk along the fields as we continued deeper into the fields
Tegallalang Rice Terraces is the second of its kind that I have seen. The first one was Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines some 18 years ago during a class field trip. Unlike our visit there though, here at Tegallalang we had the chance to walk around, up and down the rice fields. I would say it was a more "up close and personal" experience. Tegallalang Rice Terraces are more accessible but Banaue Rice Terraces are more grand (the terraces were built in higher mountains).

some of the pathways were lined with square tiles for visitors to walk on.
Other areas can be muddy specially after rain showers.

we crossed this man-made bridge and discovered that locals "ask" for donation.
Prepare about 5000 to 10000 IDR for your right of passage.

a big bottle of water, some sunblock, hat and our smiles

view across the terraces...and that long way down was where we would be heading

an Instagram-worthy photo 

Ubud's elements face to face, separated by the group of coconut trees 

and our rice terraces adventure was given a thumbs up by the young one as we walked from one end to the other. He even had a few selfies taken which we discovered while reviewing the photos when we got home!

saying our final goodbyes and grateful to be able to witness and explore and take in the beauty of this scenery

Travel tip: Use sunblock. Wear a cap. Slip on comfy clothes and walking shoes (there may be puddles and mud). Bring water and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.


After walking under the scorching sun we were famished. We asked Pak Ketut if he could recommend a place to eat - we wanted to try another famous Balinese food. He brought us to a place which served the famous crispy bebek. 

He dropped us at the parking lot and told us he would be waiting there until we were done with lunch. We invited him to have lunch with us but he insisted to have lunch somewhere else. We walked towards the entrance and were amazed by the restaurant grounds. There were rice fields, small villas to have intimate meals with family/friends and greeneries. 

what's on the menu?

we've ordered their specials and the usual for Ira the picky one

Tepi Sawah Crispy or Grilled Duck
- a traditional deep fried duck with Balinese vegetable and three choices of Balinese Sambal

Cost = IDR115,000

Gurami Asam Manis/Sweet Sour Water Carp Fish
- deep friend water carp fish with sweet sour sauce

Cost = IDR85,000
here's a snapshot of what we ordered just before we dug in.
Ira had chicken BBQ (IDR78,000), Kelvin and I had the bebek tepi sawah 
and Mark had the deep fried water carp.
while we savour the crispy treats on our plates, we were entertained by a traditional dance performance.
Called LEGONG, it is Bali's most visually alluring court performances 

with physically demanding postures and fast-paced movements. 
after our lunch, we decide to take the long route back to the carpark so we could explore the restaurant grounds.

this swing looked so inviting.... but I don't think it could carry our weight

Bebek Tepi Sawah
Jl. Raya Goa Gajah, Br Teges, Peliatan
Ubud 80571 Bali, Indonesia
Phone#: +62-0361-975656


This was initially not in our list of preferred places to visit but since it was on the way to Tanah Lot it was recommended by Pak Ketut. He said the Bali Agrotourism is where they serve kopi luwak. We are not really coffee lovers (except for the not-so-frequent visits to Starbucks or hubby’s morning coffee preference) but this was something intriguing - the price, the history, the ingredients, the process itself - and so we agreed to go and have a visit.

As we walked inside we passed by a some cages where the civets were held in captivity. These nocturnal animals are an integral part in the making of KOPI LUWAK (civet coffee).

Kopi Luwak is named after the feline that gave the coffee its most important ingredient - specially selected coffee berries, eaten and processed by the civet cat (luwak).

The agrotourism guide briefed us on how the kopi luwak is produced and showed us how Balinese people make coffee the traditional way, specifically how the defecated coffee berries (which have been digested and fermented inside the civet) are washed and roasted several times, assuring us that the coffee beans produced are good for consumption.

Our tour of the grounds ended at a cafe overlooking rice fields. We were presented with a tray of a variety of teas and coffees. Kopi Luwak though was not included in the selection (tourist trap!).
so many flavors to choose from and each of us had our own favorite(s)

ready for our taste test
After having a sip from the samplers, we decided we wanted to go for the featured, famous and said to be expensive kopi luwak.
a cup of kopi luwak cost IDR50,000 (about SGD5)
first sip goes to mom and dad

Kelvin and his gastronomic adventure
Even Ira could not resist to join in this drink experience of a lifetime. We came to Bali without the intention of sampling this world famous drink but ended up liking it somehow.

it tasted more like cocoa as in the chocolate drink than the caffeinated coffee drink we were expecting
unexpected gastronomic delight at Bali Agrotourism 


It was already late in the afternoon and we were off to the final Bali tourist spot on our list for the day. We headed towards the southern west coast of the island. It was about an hour from Bali Agrotourism passing by rice fields and other plantations.

We arrived at the entrance and drove by the ticketing booth where we were asked to paid the required entrance fees (excluding Pak Ketut). Cost was IDR30,000 per child and IDR60,000 per adult and IDR5,000 per car.
here were our tickets
From the ticketing booths, we drove further and passed by
officials which checked our tickets and punched holes before allowing
us into the main tourist area

From there, it was just a short drive until we reached the bustling area filled with shops and eating places. Pak Ketut dropped us off and looked for a parking space. We then walked from the parking lot, passing by shop after shop of food and local products until we were overlooking the sea. We followed the paved pathway where most people were heading to. We first saw Pura Batu Bolong. It is a smaller temple compared to Tanah Lot Temple in the Tanah Lot area.

The sky was gloomy so we knew it was not going to be a good day to the the famous sunset at Tanah Lot Temple but since we were already there, might as well explore the grounds and take as many photos and take in the environment around us.
our first glimpse of the temple from the top of the hill
Tanah Lot literally means “land in the sea” in Balinese. This large offshore rock was where the Tanah Lot Temple was built sometime in the 16th century. It was deemed to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. Dewa Baruna or Bhatara Segara (sea god) is the main deity worshipped in this temple. It is one of the seven seas temples in the southwest part of the island forming a chain of temples.
this was where we stopped to do our family photo shoot

This is Bali’s scenic sea temple more famous for beautiful sunsets. Unfortunately, during our visit the weather did not cooperate. The sun hid behind the clouds so we just enjoyed the walk around the park grounds.

some tourists - brave and bold - decided to get as close as possible to the temple
amid splashing waves

on our way back, we stopped by to take a photo of what should have been a
great sunset view with Pura Batu Bolong in the background.

Balinese people praying at the shrine

As it started to get dark and gloomy, we decided head back and meet Pak Ketut for our last stop for the day. On our way to the southeastern coast of the island we were still wondering if we should go to Jimbaran for seafood dinner but it has already been a long day for us - traffic wore us down - and we were cautious about the tour time we agreed upon. Pak Ketut said he would be glad to bring us to Jimbaran at no extra cost. He just wanted to make sure we were happy and we got to see the places we wanted to see. He was really so nice and patient and accommodating. In the end, we decided to call it a night and just straight head to the hotel and asked if he could just drive-thru McDonald’s if we see any along the way.

We were grateful to see the Balinese attractions and taste famous Balinese food (and drink) that tourists are going crazy about. We have been blessed with very friendly and accommodating guides/drivers/host who showed us not only what the island can offer but their warm hospitality as well. Thank you, Wayan and Pak Ketut, for this introduction to your home island. Till we meet again.

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