Ubud and the Bukit Peninsula 

21 Jan

We hopped on the ferry to Bali, which was a mere 6,000 rupiah and within an hour we made it to the island. We had decided that we would start in Ubud, a central location where we could get anywhere from. However, to get anywhere from the ferry port, you have to first take the bus to Denpasar, basically the capital city of the island. While the distance doesn’t seem that far, the slow, rickety local buses take four or more hours to get there. We hopped on the cheapest one we could find and were off. The vehicle did not have AC and the doors to both the front and back were left open. Seats were tiny and uncomfortable and it was only after we set off that we asked the guy how long the bus would take. At this point, we had been up for (and had not eaten for) about 12 hours, had climbed a mountain, and were as good as dead. Two children threw up while on the bus, with some getting on Katrin’s bag, and people were chain smoking on the bus the whole way. However, the scenery on the drive made it totally worth it. Endless rice paddies and views of the ocean confirmed that Indonesia offered us the best driving scenery out of any country we had been to. When we arrived to Denpasar we took a cab up to Ubud, making it to our our hostel extremely thirsty for a bed. We checked in, gathered all our gross volcano laundry and headed next door to drop it off. Afterwards we went searching for food since we couldn’t remember the taste of it and ended up at a nice rooftop location with cheap food. Angela got noodles of course while I got some delicious Balinese fried chicken with sweet potatoes and a side salad. Beers were cheap so we had one there, followed by a few more at the hostel before going to sleep.

I awoke the next morning with a splitting headache from dehydration and lack of sleep, as I was unable to fall asleep the night before. I made Angela let me sleep in and then we headed out on a walk. The town of Ubud is terribly cute, with little boutiques everywhere and multiple cafes under old building architecture and with temples scattered throughout. However, the tourist harassment is the worst that I have ever seen. Men line the street saying “taxi, taxi” like its the only word they know. You actually can’t walk more than five feet without hearing the word. One guy even asked Angela and me if we wanted a taxi to the airport. We were very clearly not going to the airport. Anyway, that morning we treated ourselves to a nice Western breakfast at a lovely cafe, Grandpa’s, where I got a Greek omelette with pesto and a latte and Angela got bacon, eggs and pesto on a croissant. MMMMMM. We walked into a few of the smaller temples and then headed over to the rice field walk which we had seen on maps.me. We walked down a sketchy aisle past multiple buildings until we were finally spit out into rice fields. They weren’t the most impressive, but it is amazing how you can find such a different world just a few feet away from the town of Ubud. It was an enjoyable walk through nature and past some yoga studios, cafes and guesthouses scattered in unsuspecting places. We were going to go to the infamous Monkey Forest, but stood there deciding if it would be worth paying for, especially since it was starting to drizzle. We have seen plenty of monkeys in our travels and to pay to walk around them seemed kind of ridiculous, so we bailed out and instead spent our money on beer and chilled out in the hostel while the rain came pouring down. For dinner that night, we headed out in search of a place that turned out to be a let down, and I ended up getting some Sumatran food (beef rendang of course) while Angela got noodles down the street. We were going to the Bukit Peninsula the next day, the peninsula off the south of the island known as a big surf and backpacker area, so we booked a shuttle to Jimbaran, the closest location to our hostel we could get.

We woke up early the following morning to get breakfast before going to the peninsula, but not a single place was open and serving food which was completely bizarre for 8:00 AM. A woman had told us the night before that her restaurant opened at 8, but when we showed up she told us it wasn’t until 10:00 AM that they opened. We ended up having to buy prepackaged pastries from Circe K and have a latte while we waited, angry that we didn’t just sleep for an extra hour. The shuttle bus was packed with one too many people, naturally, and we had to squish four people sweatily in a back row. After a few stops for other people we made it to Jimbaran and just ended up paying the cab driver a bit of extra money to take us to our hostel. The hostel was instantly good vibes, with beers in the fridge that you mark your name down for, eggs and toast for breakfast, big areas to hang out and scooters to rent. We readily rented scooters and headed down to Warung Campur-Campur, a place for lunch that the hostel recommended, of course getting rice, beef rendang and amazing vegetables. We then headed out to drive around and see the beaches. The guy who rented us out the scooters told us that at the police station near the hostel, the police will come out and stop white people, knowing very well that they do not have an international motorcycle license, and attempt to take their money off them. While they have no permit to do so, people panic and pay them. We were advised to keep a small amount of money in our wallet and hide the rest in case this happened to us. Luckily, it never did. However, to avoid the cops at first, we attempted to take a route that would allow us to bypass it, which ended up being rocky as all hell. It was completely off roading and people were confused as to why we were there. We decided that next time we would take our chances with the police. We went to Balangan Beach, which we were not impressed by as it was kind of dirty and small so we knocked it off the list. We then went to Uluwatu and drove around the main loop passing by beaches and seeing the area. At around sunset we went back to the hostel, had a few beers and played cards that night until Christine showed up. Yes, Christine has arrived and will be traveling with me til the end of my adventure, whenever that may be! She arrived pretty late and we were all exhausted, so we went to bed nearly right away.

The next morning, I tried to have a scooter lesson with Christine to see if she could ride, she definitely couldn’t so we put her on the back of mine and it was surprisingly easy and nice to have a companion. We decided to try Panang Panang beach, and while it was a bit dirty it served its purpose…for about 30 minutes until the tide started to come in. We got back on Scooters and decided to go to Nyang Nyang beach, a place that I read about that required a hike down to the water. We made it there, bought a beer from a woman in a little shack, and went on the hike down to the water which was surprisingly difficult and slippery but totally worth it. Massive crashing waves and a clean, empty beach welcomed us. We enjoyed a few hours before hiking back up to the top, which was one of the sweatiest hikes we’ve done in a while. We drove back to the Uluwatu temple after the hike back up and enjoyed the views over the cliffs and the endless monkeys, while the temple itself did not impress us. We were completely ravenous by the time we were done and went to the same place we had dinner the night before. That night I got back on the lychee vodka, the same shit that gave me my disaster New Years hangover, and played some card games at the hostel with a big group before going to a bar in the area. Music was pretty bad and beers were double the price, but the location, right on a cliff over the water, was awesome.

We woke up luckily not hungover and decided to make our way to the east of the island for a different beach, Nusa Dua. I read that it was all resorts over there, but we took the chance based off of what Laura had recommended to us. It was a shorter scooter ride than we thought and after about 20-30 minutes we approached a magical entrance into resort world that us peasants aren’t accustomed to. We were stopped at a guard gate and thought we were going to be turned away. He asked us where we were going and when we said we didn’t know he took us aside and happily explained our public beach options and directed us to the beach of our choice. We passed beautiful statues and green grass, parked for free and entered the beautiful beach area. The beach was magnificent and certainly the cleanest we had seen with super clear, swimable water that reflected the perfect emerald green when the sun was shining. We spent the day reading, walking the beach, relaxing in the warm water and watching the surfers out in the distance. We did have a mishap towards the end where a group of Indian men, fully clothed and clearly not going to the beach, appeared and started taking pictures of any girls they saw. We felt completely violated and I had to yell at them to go away yet more seemed to be creeping around. It was pretty gross so we headed out shortly after. For dinner we went to a place called Pit Stop, which the hostel recommended for burgers. We had excellent burgers, fries and a wrap all at surprisingly reasonable prices. Full and content we headed back to the hostel to shower, lotion up our burned bodies and get into bed. Christine was out by 9 pm, Angela by 10, and me a few hours later.

After checking out the next day, we lazied around the hostel, not knowing exactly where we were going to be going. After a bit of research we booked a hostel in Sanur, a beach location about a thirty minute drive away that would get us closer to our final destination: Amed, and ate some lunch of fried rice and fried noodles. Luckily, the island has Uber which works out much cheaper than the shuttles, so we hopped in an Uber and made our way up the coast.


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