Bali was on my bucket list to visit when we lived in Japan. It worked out just right for us to go while Jeff was deployed and Sam was on summer break. The weather in Bali in July was also amazing. It’s winter in July so the days were warm and breezy and the nights and early mornings had a slight chill.
We did get some beach time on this trip, but since I am not someone that wants to spend the entire time in a resort, I wanted to spend the majority of the trip in Ubud, the center of traditional arts and culture in Bali.
I highly recommend you hire a driver if you visit Bali. We had a great driver who came prepared with itinerary suggestions but would also take you any place you had already researched. He had a similar aged son as Sam and even helped entertain him during our stops. He also brought a sarong for me to wear in temples since you cannot enter them with bare legs.Prices for a driver are around $50 per day.
Here is a summary of a very full day in Ubud.
- Goa Gajah
- Dewi Coffee Plantation
- Lunch Mount Batur Volcano
- Tegalalang Rice Terrace
- Barong Dance at Batubulan Village
- Sari Amerta Batik Studio
Goa Gajah is a Hindu holy site dating back to the 11th century. In 1995 it was listed as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entrance of the mysterious cave is engulfed in carvings of demonic looking creatures.
Sam took a dip in the holy water of the bathing pools.
I like to find beauty in the mundane and those mundane things are my favorite subjects to photograph. I really loved this collection of beautiful food storage baskets all lined up on the table.
Living in Japan I was used to seeing koi ponds. The koi pond at Goa Gajah was the most impressive one I have ever seen, in both size and variety of colorful fish.
Lots of beautiful spaces to photograph at Goa Gajah. The photo of Sam’s head underneath the other head is one of favorite photos of him.
Dewi Coffee Plantation
Coffee grows well in Bali. We visited Dewi for a coffee tasting, but first took a walk through to see how coffee beans and cocoa pods grow on the plantation.
Bali is famous for luwak coffee. Considered the most expensive coffee in the world, luwak coffee beans come from the poop of civet cats. You may wonder who originally thought digging out the beans from the poop to roast and make coffee was a good idea. It came about when immigrant plantation workers were denied the use of regular beans to make coffee by colonial plantation owners so they decided to use what was at their disposal. The thing is, the coffee was amazing. The cats instinctively eat beans at their height of ripeness and flavor and then their flavor is enhanced during fermentation in the digestive process. The pulp is digested, but the beans are expelled whole. The poor man’s immigrant coffee was discovered and now costs $35-$100 per cup in some metropolitan areas. There is currently controversy about luwak coffee and its ethics. Civet cats were originally wild and people found the beans in the forest. The cats are highly communal animals and do not do well in isolation. Many places now keep the cats caged and isolated from each other, making them very unhappy, and force feed them beans so they can harvest them to make luwak coffee, a very profitable commodity.
Our coffee tasting platter arrived, hot cocoa for my intrepid traveling partner Sam. I think you can tell he enjoyed it from the huge chocolate mustache.
Lunch on the Rim of Mount Batur:
Mount Batur is an active volcano. A lot of people hike up it at sunrise. For us, it was an enjoyable spot for lunch with amazing views. The elevation and wind made it very chilly so I recommend taking a shawl to wrap around yourself.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace:
In the car on our way to our next stop, I saw this shop selling poufs made from vintage batik fabric. My husband is used to having to find some place to turn around or make a quick U turn so I can go back to some dumpster I saw something in or a flea market or antique store I wanted to check out. Luckily our driver was a good sport, as well as a good driver, and turned around to go back to this wonderful little shop full of pretty vintage batik poufs. Aren’t they lovely!
Barong Dance Show:
Barong is a traditional story telling dance. The performance was full of mythological creatures, monkeys, a witch, a fight between good and evil, and wonderful masks, costumes and music.
Sari Amerta Batik Studio:
Originating in Indonesia, batik describes both a fabric and a craft/art. It uses a resist dye method where wax and then dye is applied. The wax prevents the dye from taking in that area and leaving the design. It is very labor intensive.
Ubud offers many opportunities for art, culture and nature. This was just one possible itinerary but there are a myriad of other possibilities to create the perfect one day in Ubud for yourself. You do remember that Ubud was one of Julia Roberts’ character’s retreats in “Eat, Pray, Love”, right? where she finally finds “love”?