Although our time in Seminyak has been brilliant, tourism has continued to boom and has gradually overshadowed the culture of the Balinese. We did however stay in a place called Ubud which resides near the centre of the country and is much less touristy, meaning it still maintains much of its natural beauty. As Ubud has so much to offer in terms of visits, the best way to maximise time was to hire a private driver for the day (it cost £30 for a full day 8-5pm). This was such a good decision as it meant we got to hear about the traditions from the perspective of a true Balinese, and he also acted as a tour guide throughout our many stops during the day.
First we visited the rice fields where much of the countries supply comes from and learnt about the process of how it is all made (no machines in sight).
After here we took a trip to the main temple which our driver was not allowed to go in (due to some complex rules on female menstruation – I won’t go into it, and sadly his uncle passing away recently). There were several areas to the temple and a special cleansing bath which is supposedly to ensure God keeps you in good health.
From here, Awan (our driver) drove us to a coffee plantation which was again, very interesting. The whole process of picking the beans, hand roasting, and grinding the beans was shown to us, finishing with a ‘free’ tasting session (with the option to buy of course – they have their business heads screwed on over here, I bought the coconut flavoured one).
After the coffee tour, we went to the biggest waterfall in Bali. The pictures don’t do it justice but the power of the water was dangerously strong, we both agreed something like that would not be publicly accessible in most countries ! Our final stop was the most anticipated one. The famous monkey forest, home to the sunglasses stealing, bag opening, food pinching primates! Within ten minutes of us arriving, the heavens opened and we were absolutely drenched, we had to buy two ponchos (still haggled them down though which in torrential downpour is a serious commitment to a bargain. Some time later we entered the forest and it was as good as we expected. Monkeys traversed people’s bodies to steal orange juice and bananas, we managed to get them to climb on us by by holding dried sweetcorn. Brogan had a little painful encounter as the monkey decided to use her ponytail as a swing for the exit on its way down! It was genuinely a really good day and we got to know all about Awan’s beliefs and his family, he even sorted us out with a massively discounted boat ride to get to our next destination and blog… The Gili Islands.