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.
Amphitheatre gate at Uluwatu Temple.
Clifftop view at Uluwatu.
Love the monkeys!
Inner temple gate at Uluwatu
Elizabeth with our guide.
Nothing says vacation like tropical flowers and lemongrass in your lunch drink.
A temple in Kuta, Denpassar
We also enjoyed high tea at the Fairmont, Sanur Beach.
We found a perfect little beach warung with tasty local food and plenty of Bintang to help welcome Maureen.
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.
Bubbles at Ku De Ta
Ku De Ta
Girls Week dinner – Ku De Ta
One of our best adventures was a downhill bike ride from the ridge in Kintimani through small villages on the way to Ubud.
Overlooking Mount Batur from Kintimani
Cycling through a village
Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, music and art.
Visiting an elementary school on our trek.
Balinese children finishing up their school day.
Leading the class in end of day prayers.
Entrance to the family temple inside a traditional Balinese home.
Google Street View vehicle capturing a neighborhood on our bike route.
Here is the corner where we saw the Google Street View vehicle in case you want to hunt for it. 🙂
Guarding the gate.
Rest stop to see a temple after our one uphill section of the ride.
We decided to try durian at a local fruit stand.
Durian smells bad, but tastes delicious. It’s slightly alcoholic and considered one of the best ways to catch a tiger in Indonesia. We did not catch one.
Mangosteen, my favorite tropical fruit.
Newly harvested rice drying in the sun.
Wandering rooster. In general, chickens and roosters roam free in villages.
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.
Mama and baby macaques.
Grooming and snack time.
Monkeys petting monkeys.
Baby macaque hands look like newborn humans. The rest? All monkey.
Peeking in from outside the gate at Pura Dalem Agung Padangtedal.
Can you see the live monkey?
This one found a few seconds alone to enjoy its snack.
Climbing down towards the Bathing Temple.
Maureen at the stream overlook.
Monkey see, monkey do.
Stream by the Bathing Temple.
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 more quiet streets in Ubud.
Waiting to cross the street in Ubud.
Carvings above a doorway.
One symbol of Ubud’s commercialism was the Starbuck’s we found inside the entrance to one of the temple gardens, at the Pura Taman Kemuda Saraswati.
Pura Taman Kemuda Saraswati
This appeared to be a very cool tree house overlooking the grounds next door.
We saw so many intricate details on the temple entrance.
Another temple garden gate.
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.
Sea grapes and six variations of local seafood, served on stones.
Gnocchi with mushrooms and sage butter
This incredible platter of local fresh fruit, spices and herbs was intended to be an educational prop for our waiter to explain the menu, but we ate every last bit of the fruit and some of the herbs. Our waiter’s face may or may not have looked a little horrified when he discovered this.
In Ubud, we also had an incredible view from our hotel room, looking across the rice fields towards the volcano.
Watching ducks cross the rice fields with Mount Agung in the distance, in Ubud, Bali
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.
Sacred herons return to Petulu
Everywhere you look, birds cover every tree, every rooftop, everything.
These pictures hardly capture how densely packed every tree and rooftop was.
Cattle egret, Petulu, Bali
One of the Petulu herons
Two of my favorite people in the world, birdwatching.
Barong Dance at Batubulan
In the village of Batubulan, we saw a Barong dance at one of the temples. .
More temple details, Batubalan
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.
A traditional gamelan orchestra.
We visited a batik fabric factory and learned about the dye and wax process as well as traditional fabric weaving.
Adding wax to a batik pattern.
Tools used for batik designs.
Applying wax before adding the second of many colors.
A batik design, nearing completion.
Traditional loom weaving.
The finished pattern.
The fabric pattern is pre-dyed on the thread.
Dying batik fabric.
Another site we visited was Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave, home to one of the oldest Ganesha statues in Bali.
Entrance to Elephant Cave.
Rock formations outside the cave.
Pools outside the cave.
Making an offering.
One of the shrines.
Garden paths at Goa Gajah.
Magnificent tree roots.
On our hike, we foraged for berries with our guide. He promised these were edible. They tasted a bit like bland blueberries.
We planned to hike to a shrine in the forest, but were cut short by a raging stream that was too high to cross.
We also came across this little guy. He’s not deadly, but has a wicked mean bite.
Elizabeth in the tranquility garden.
On our way out of Goa Gajah.
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.
Mooring at Lembongan, Indonesia
Villas and caves, Lembongan, Indonesia
View across the bay, Lembongan
Scrabblemaster E and the kiddies
Seaweed farming off Lembongan
Local mooring field, Lembongan
View from the hilltop of Lembongan Village and Bali in the distance
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.