Now that we have a month without visitors on Sophie, in addition to enjoying some relaxing family time with Jamie and the kids, I’m finally making a dent in triaging the tens of thousands of photos I’ve taken this year. Here’s one about Bali.
Our fabulous friends, Maureen and Elizabeth, joined us for “Girls Week” in February. Jamie graciously offered to take care of the kids while I played with the girls. We toured all around Bali, hiked, cycled, feasted on local dishes, and even managed to squeeze in a little time to relax at the beach.
Before Maureen landed, Elizabeth and I visited the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, the southernmost major temple in Bali, that has incredible views of the Indian Ocean. Bali is where we got our first real look out to the Indian Ocean after many inland sea passages across Indonesia.
Nothing says vacation like tropical flowers and lemongrass in your lunch drink.
Potato Head Beach Club
One of my favorite Girls Week experiences was lounging by the beach and people watching at the Potato Head Beach Club. This place reminded me a little bit of the time we celebrated Elizabeth’s 40th birthday in Vegas, only with a more mellow crowd scene.
We treated ourselves to the renown Ku De Ta restaurant and nightclub in Seminyak for dinner. Bubbles were obligatory.
One of our best adventures was a downhill bike ride from the ridge in Kintimani through small villages on the way to Ubud.
Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtedal
After our bike trip, we stopped at the Monkey Forest in Ubud. This is a sacred site for Balinese Hinduism, the predominant religion on Bali, which incorporates aspects of Animism, Ancestor Worship, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Also, the monkeys here were very cute.
The city of Ubud is promoted as the cultural center of Bali. While I can imagine its allure and charm thirty years ago, we encountered a large number of tourists and souvenir hawkers, a stark contrast compared to the quiet Balinese countryside we enjoyed so much on the cycle tour.
One of the highlights of Ubud was the French-inspired Balinese and Indonesian cooking at Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique, where we enjoyed signature cocktails and the chef’s six course Surprize Menu with wine pairing. Outdoor garden pavilion dining turned out to be more thrilling than we anticipated, when a torrential downpour with huge lightning strikes blew through during our meal. We were far enough under the roof to avoid getting soaked, but it felt like we were about to be hit by lightning at any moment.
In Ubud, we also had an incredible view from our hotel room, looking across the rice fields towards the volcano.
Sacred Herons of Petulu
Just before sunset, we stopped in the small town of Petulu, on the northeast outskirts of Ubud where each night, thousands of herons return to nest. Legend has it that these birds, who arrived for the first time in late 1965, are the reincarnated souls of people killed during mass murders that followed a failed coup attempt that same year. The birds all roost within the village limits each night and fly away during the day. This massive bird arrival is an incredible scene, and only felt a little like we were on the set of The Birds. Mysterious and beautiful. Somehow, we managed to escape unharmed.
Everywhere you look, birds cover every tree, every rooftop, everything.
Barong Dance at Batubulan
In the village of Batubulan, we saw a Barong dance at one of the temples. .
The Barong Dance, a traditional Balinese story, portrays the eternal struggle between good and evil. The Barong, who is half-lion and half-dog, battles Rangda, an evil witch.
We visited a batik fabric factory and learned about the dye and wax process as well as traditional fabric weaving.
Another site we visited was Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave, home to one of the oldest Ganesha statues in Bali.
One of our lunch stops overlooked rice fields on the slopes of Mount Agung.
The Mother Temple, Pura Besakih, is a giant complex located on Mount Agung and it is considered the most important and holiest temple in Balinese Hinduism. The mountain and temples provided beautiful scenery, but there were hawkers almost everywhere along our path trying to convince us to buy their wares, including a tenacious pack of six year old girls who followed us halfway up the hillside. Cute, but no thanks. I loved people-watching here, especially the Balinese women who passed us on the steps, balancing their offerings in baskets stacked up high on their heads.
We really appreciate our amazing husbands, Jamie, Troy and Steve, who stayed home and watched the kids all week so we could spend some quality girl time. Next time, though, we found a better option in Bali. Just need to figure out what to do with the kids…
Our one Sophie Adventure Cruise destination trip of the week was to the neighboring island of Lembogan, where we rented bikes and pedaled a lap of the island.
Thank you for am amazing week, Maureen and Elizabeth! It was incredible to explore Bali with you and add another chapter to this crazy and wonderful adventure. I am so lucky to have you in my life.