Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ubud, Bali

Good day! Thanks for tuning in.
Last blog we were in Lombok with Shyla and Tanner.

We had quite the day of travel going to ubud, bali.

We had called the boat company a day prior to confirm that we would be leaving Lombok at 10:30. They said yes, be at the port an hour and a half early. So we arranged a shuttle early in the morning, which dropped us off at the wrong location. The locals pointed us inthe right direction and we walked 5minutes with our bags. No big deal,but we were already sweaty. We arrived at a restaurant which had a picture of the boat, so we showed them our ticket and were encouraged to sit down and Order something. (Tourism trap) We were given menus and asked if we wanted breakfast. We just ate, so we declined and continued to sit at this restaurant. After half hour of us clearly not ordering, a random guy asked for our ticket. Right away he said "that boat not come today"..huh. He spoke with another restaurant guy in Indonesian, and soon they were both on their phones..
Another half hour passed and we were confused. After they got off the phone, they said, "come with
us to a different port." So we hopped on the back of their bikes and they took us to a bigger, busy port.

Finally someone explained that our incoming boat had engine troubles and wouldn't run that day. So the guys on the phone had arranged for us to catch a different boat/with different company which left from the main port. Thanks for arranging that's for us boys. but now the boat isn't coming until 1 pm,.. Soo more waiting around.

This time we ordered food and drinks at a local hut. Ironically, we started talking to the only other
foreigner around. He was from California, and living/teaching English in Indonesia. He spoke fluent
Indonesian and was super nice. We listened as he spoke with the locals...soo strange seeing a. White guy speak with them. Haha.. He encouraged us to try a local fruit which was super unique so we did. And then just like that, someone told him his boat was leaving, so he was gone.

Our boat finally came at one. It was a fast boat, with 5, 250horsepower each engines. It was a rough ride and stopped twice from the engine quitting. Each time it stopped, all of the foreigners on the boat looked around and laughed... Typical...the boat drivers would run to the back, play around with the engine, and it would fire back up.

Anyways a hour later we were back on solid ground and had prearranged for a jeep to take us to ubud. Another, hot, dirty, stinky ride.
Ubud!! We made it! The minute foreigners are spotted with their back packs on, locals begin offering their place for us to stay at. (I mean their family owned accommodation/hotel/bungalows/home stay) they rattle off the features.. "Air con, pool, wifi, close, cheap cheap".

Anyways we were getting tired so we took a guy up On his offer.

We were pleasantly surprised and pleased with our new accommodation.beautiful architecture
surrounded the garden, temple and bungalows. It was very modern, clean, and spacious. Perfect.

Our first full day in Ubud we rented a scooter and zipped around, checking out a elephant temple. (Despite the name, there were no elephants around..) it is out of respect for the Hinduism culture to cover knees and shoulders when visiting a. Temple. So Ashton donned a pretty dress to cover his knees.

The temple was... A temple.. Very Nice. But without understanding the background of the temple, or culture, we figured one temple was enough to see. We found some cute old man (who looked like the palm reader in the movie eat pray love) and he invited us to pray with him. So we followed his lead and he sprinkled water on us and we heard the words,beautiful, happy, married, baby... We smiled and said thank you in Indonesian. Then he lifted up a rug to reveal money. He started pointing at the $5 rupia and held up two fingers.. $5 per person per blessing! 10 dollars goes a long ways here. That's a nights accommodation or a real good meal with a couple beers so we were resultant to five him anything... Wwhhaatt?? Ashton gave him one dollar and we hurriedly left. Great now we've been cursed because we didn't pay him.. For a blessing?. What the?.....
Money.. The root of all evil.

Needless to say, we will not be touring any more temples.

Then we biked to Tegalalang where we viewed a gorgeous area of rice paddies.
We enjoyed a nice lunch overlooking the rice field and hopped back on the bike to "get lost in the countryside", touring through villages, and rice paddies.

Really good day . Decided to get dolled up and have a "date night". I got all prettied up,applying makeup and a nice shirt... Then it started to pour... On goes our handy rain jackets.

We spent the evening watching a Balinese dance performance. It was really amazing. The music, the attire, the emotion, it was neat. We had a pamphlet outlining the story of each section of the dance. Some sort of love story...
The next day we checked out the monkey forest and the local market.

We enjoyed many delicious meals in Ubud, as it's a touristy place, known for its cultural and spiritual experiences. Lots of yoga goers, cool caf├ęs and meditating.
I bed early as we had to wake up at 2am for our volcano hike.
We were told we would be picked up at 2:30, so imagine our surprise when the dog was barking and someone was tapping on our door at 2 am. "Climb volcano now".. We'll be right out.
We hopped in the car with a young couple from South Africa, who spoke fluent english and were really nice.
At our first stop we had a small breakfast of a tiny pancake and tea. It was really cold as we were climbing in altitude and it was 3 am!
Back in the vehicle and taken to the base off he volcano where we met our guides, gathered our
bigger breakfast and given flashlights.

And were off.. To trek the steep volcano in the dark. (There were only 4 to our group with an excellent guide, however there were many groups At their own pace, so it was neat to see a string of flashlights heading up the volcano together.
The trek became increasingly challenging. We stopped several times to catch our breath and allow our hearts to calm down. Hah a.. (The guide often had to lift and toss us over big rocks and steep spots. He was really strong, full of energy and loved to "make joke".

It took two hours to climb up to the crater. At 6:20, the sun rose!! It was beautiful!!

Such accomplishment to make it to the top and enjoy the gorgeous view of the. Village below, the lakes and the clouds. We ate our big breakfast which was necessary energy for the way down.
Our guide showed us the crater, a little cave and tiny holes which steamed with heat.
There were also monkeys AT the top of the volcano. One jumped on my backpack and I let out a scream because I was so startled. Where did that monkey come from? Lol..
Anyways we walked around and continued to enjoy the view while laughing with our guide and South African couple.
When we told them we are married, the guide asked "M-B-A??" Then he laughed and finally told us what it meant. .. Let's see if you can figure it out? Something to do with marriage and babies.
The trek down was also harder than expected. Tough on our knees and shins, and we were careful not to roll our ankles.

In all, it was an amazing climb and a breathtaking sunrise. Time we got back to the base it was already starting to get hot out. Back in the car, smiles all around.
We stopped at a coffee plantation on the way home. We learned about the. Famous Lombok coffee made with the aid of cats.

(The plantation had a couple cats locked up, which they let out at night time. The cats eat particular coffee bean seeds right from the tree. Because the cat cannot digest the seed, it comes out with the cat poop. The people scoop up the poop, pick out the seeds and wash them thoroughly, boiling them and heating them over a fire. Then the bean covering is cracked open and the seed inside is used to make delicious, smooth coffee. Apparently this coffee is amazing and is sold for an expensive price to foreigners. Many people make the trek over to Lombok just for the coffee. Or so they tell us. It was
$5 per small cup.
We passed on this offer, even though the cat poop story made it sound so delicious! Yummy! Not .. Lol.. But we did sample various teas and normal coffee.

 Mount Batur. The volcano we hiked.

By this point we wanted a bed. Soo tired. Drove an hour back to our place and crawled into bed. Since We had so much coffee I wasn't able to sleep, so we sleepily walked around and ate lupper (lunch/supper) and watched amazing race while it poured out. We were told it rains often in ubud but not in other surrounding villages. Maybe from the elevation??

The rain continued into the next day where it was cloudy all day. Fine by us, since we were nowhere near a beach or pool. We found an internet shop and purchased online tourist visas for Sri Lanka. Spent $5 on a one hour massage. (Hey, we needed the massage after the mountain climb. Our glutes were feeling the burn!) and made a couple book trades.

The time flew in Ubud.

Thinking of you. Much love.. Chels and Ashton Zunti

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