Bali series: Ubud

Temple near Ubud

Temple near Ubud

Alex and I are staying at the Grand Balisani Suites Hotel in Seminyak and so far have spent some time visiting Kuta and enjoying our surrounds of the hotel complex.

Today we have made arrangements with a local taxi driver, Mudi to take us to Ubud.

We have arranged to pay Mudi a fixed price of AU$50 which includes the two of us and includes a round trip which is expected to take about 4 hours.

Mudi arrives right on time and we head off on what is expected to be an hour long trip just to get to Ubud, passing through Kerobokan, Denpasar and into the hinterland of Ubud. Considering the distance is only 30km, the traffic must be a nightmare.

Along the way we pass shops selling everything from statues, cars, mag wheels, silver and paintings.

Mudi is happy to chat with us throughout our trip in his broken English and our non-existent Indonesian. We learn that to fill the car costs Mudi about AUD$20, with petrol costing AUD$1 per litre. We learn that Mudi has a wife and 3 girls of about 3/4 years of age. Sadly Mudi needs to work every day to support his family.

We drive for about an hour before Mudi stops at a carpark across what appears to be a temple, points and says he will wait for us. “Ok” “Suksuma” (Thank You) we say.

If front of us is a large covered platform where ladies are handing out saris. There appears to be no cost as the saris are lent to tourists in order for them to enter the temple. So, before crossing the road towards the temple, Alex and I are wrapped in a sari by the ladies who have big box of saris under their control.

Also to our surprise is a traffic controller person or “lollipop” guy whose job appears to be to ensure tourists make it safely across the road… “Suksuma”

We explore the grounds and statues which, while interesting, only takes us about 15 minutes to cover. It doesn’t help that we don’t know what temple we are at or have any idea about what we are actually looking at… hmmm.

We head back to find our driver Mudi.

We had assumed we were near Ubud but, when we return to the car we ask Mudi where we are, trying to clarify if we are at Ubud. There is some confusion but, after a bit of pointing by both parties at a map, we finally work out that we are in fact at a temple about 20 minutes away from Ubud. While Mudi seems reluctant to take us the extra distance, he is agreeable to taking us to Ubud which, in our defence is where we had asked to be taken.

Ubud according to Wikitravel:

“Ubud, a town in central Bali, is far removed from the drunken bikini scene in Kuta, and is regarded as the cultural centre of Bali. It is famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists’ workshops and galleries. There are some remarkable architectural and other sights to be found, and a general feeling of well being to be enjoyed, all thanks to the spirit, surroundings, and climate of the place”

And so, now back in the car, we head further up the road to Ubud proper. We pass the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (monkeys are definitely not my thing) before the road takes a 90 degree turn onto what is one of the main streets of Ubud, Jalan Wenara Wana. This street has very much an artistic village feel and is lined on both sides with shops and small cafes.

Mudi drops us at the top of the street, near the King’s Palace. We enter into the front section of the King’s Palace but there is no further access allowed.

Kings Palace door to nowhere for us

Kings Palace door to nowhere for us

 We cross the road and make our way on foot back along Jalan Wenara Wana to take a closer look at the shops.  The shops have many paintings, heaps of clothes and numerous trays of silver for sale.

There are also many men sitting on the street with “taxi” signs which we don’t need today unless we can’t find Mudi who, in fairness, seems to find us more than we find him.

And sure enough, we return to the King’s Palace where Mudi finds us to take us back to our hotel.

I can’t say that making our way through Bali traffic for over 2 hours (return) is the best way to spend a morning but overall the trip was worthwhile with out temple visit and (brief) walk around Ubud.

Once dropped back at the hotel we head out again, in search of lunch. Around the corner from the hotel complex is a main road which has a range of eateries.

We walk 10 minutes along the main road and stop at what looks like a mostly non-westernised local restaurant called “Warung Dukuh 2”. The menu assures us that all food is cooked and washed in bottled water.

We order our (very western) hamburger (Alex) and Beef Rendang (me). Lunch cost AUD$15.

While we wait for our meals (which shouldn’t take long as we are the only customers) we chat to the waitress (who we shall call Peggy). Peggy is Balinese and married with two children. She has worked here 1 year and says her boss is “ok”. Peggy is adorable and thinks we are funny, or is it she is just laughing at us, either way, she seems like a nice/happy lady. Peggy is paid IRP$80,000 (AUD$8) a week which she says isn’t great but concedes is better than nothing.

Peggy works here

Peggy works here

We finish our lunch and say our “Suksuma’s” to Peggy before we head across the road for our afternoon coffee at Madonna. Embarrassingly, our two coffees are nearly as much as Peggy’s weekly wage.

We end our afternoon with a swim in the hotel pool.  There is a sudden afternoon rainstorm and we are forced to take shelter at the pool bar where we partake of a cocktail (or two). It is “happy hours” from 5:00 to 7:00. Sometimes I guess just one happy hour is never enough hey?  One cocktail cost AUD$8.50… in our new “Peggy” economy, this is another week’s wage.  This is yet another (of many) reminders in Bali as to how very fortunate Alex and I are.

For previous Bali series see Beautiful Balinese people
For next Bali series see Legian.