I had a great stay at Meriki Apartments. It was clean and quiet and lovely. Hans helped me load up all my stuff and, concerned about how much water I was carrying, tucked an extra bottle on the back. I would recommend everyone to stay there.
I was excited about getting back on the bike and seeing some new places. I had wondered round and round Seminyak for days (I wasn’t very good at the lying down and resting thing), and I felt like I knew my way around the whole town. I was also a smidge nervous about what I was getting myself into.
But within 5 minutes of leaving Seminyak the whole vibe had changed and I had a huge smile on my face. This was the right thing. Not only was it nice to be back on the bike – moving along faster than walking, but not much slower than the traffic – it was also wonderful to leave behind the constant hassle for transport/motorbike/taxi/bike.
I only had to ride 30km to my destination and as I left just after 10am I had plenty of time, which was good because I wanted to stop every 10 metres to take a picture. There was so much to look at. So much stuff happening around me. Street sellers and local shops. Scooter, cars and other random vehicles, some carrying pigs and chickens. Scooters loaded up with piles of things.
There was temple after temple, and everything was decorated with woven palms. There must be a Hindu festival happening but I can’t find any information about it.
The traffic was crazy at times, and sometimes the scooters rode on the pavements so I followed their lead, but the pavements were often lumpier than the roads. I never felt any less safe than I did in Australia with the traffic, and everything here moves so much slower which is nice. I was cruising along quite nicely. I reached half way before I even realised it. I was only moving at about 14kph, but hey, time is my friend today.
It was surprisingly a lot flatter than I thought it was going to be. There was one short-but-steep hill which caught me unawares after a corner. I was out of practice having been off the bike for a week and I changed up to the biggest (hardest) chain ring instead of changing down to the smallest (easiest) chain ring. That’s when it all went a bit tits up and I ground to a halt and couldn’t pedal forwards anymore. I wobbled, almost dropped the bike, and stood wondering what I was going to do. I tried to lift up the back of the bike so I could turn the pedals to get down to the lower gear but all that resulted in was me cutting my thumb. I had to push for about 10 meters to where it got a bit flatter and I was able to get into the lower gear and start pedalling. As I pushed off the front came up and I almost fell off the back. On the second attempt I was pedalling again, although the front of the bike felt really unstable.
I stopped at a scooter place and asked them if they would check my tyre pressure for me. They were really sweet and helpful, but there was a language barrier and I think I left with less air than I started with, so a little way down the road I stopped and got the pump out and did it myself. I just have to hope they are right.
There were a couple more hills, but nothing that hard. Certainly nothing harder than the first day out of Sydney! The steep ones are short and the long ones are gradual. There were lots of clouds and it was great to have a bit of shade, but it did start to rain a bit. It’s different to the rain I had in Australia, this rain is actually quite refreshing! It doesn’t matter so much if you get wet because you won’t be cold afterwards. I really started to notice the change in climate as I moved on up into the rice fields and the jungle, not as hot but more humid.
Only a few minutes out of Seminyak did I stop seeing white people, and I didn’t see any until I got into Ubud (pronounced oobood). Ubud immediately had a different feel to Seminyak, a lot less developed and a lot more Indonesian. So many temples, you could feel the ancient history oozing out of the walls. I think it took me about 3 hours to get there, with a lot of stopping for pictures, which I was happy with. What I’m not too happy with is my hostel.
Coconut Ubud. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to stay here. I feel like I am in a prison cell and it’s all very run down. The water from the sink runs down a pipe and then onto the floor so you are stood in your toothpaste after you clean you teeth! And this is the kitchen…
A good reason to carry a sarong is so you can use it as a sheet when you only get provided with a blanket! As well as to cover yourself for cultural sensitivity and to lie on the beach. (Everything you carry should be multi-purpose. I need to get that back in check).
I went out for dinner at about 5pm and I was starving because I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. I have been using TripAdvisor a fair bit to seek out things to do and good places to eat. Sometimes I just want to go somewhere and not have to wander the streets looking for something.
So I went to Puspa’s Warung and it was possibly one of the best meals I have had since I have been in Indonesia. Chicken satay, rice and vegetables with a fresh icy cold mango juice for £2.70. I also couldn’t walk past the Creperie and I got a crepe with salted caramel sauce, caramelised apples, strawberries and ice cream, for £3.80! This place added the mysterious tax and service charges. I don’t like to keep banging on about money, but I do have a budget, and Australia was one of the most expensive trips I have been on so I do need to reign it in slightly.
So Ubud is the next biggest touristy area next to Seminyak. Since the release of the book and movie – Eat, Prey, Love – tourists have been flocking here to follow in Julia Roberts footsteps (I’ve not read the book or seen the movie, but I have heard they aren’t very good). There is the same range of tourist here as there was in Seminyak, from the wealthy Australians to the annoying gap yah backpacker (one of whom kept me awake until 1:30am by talking incredibly loudly on the phone, in the and I had to go and tell him to shut up).
I love and hate Ubud at the same time. It is undeniably beautiful, there are some beautiful buildings, exotic plants and ancient temples. It is charming and enchanting and would be such a wonderful place if you could remove all of the street touts, all of the tourist tat and all of the yoga-mat-carrying, ankle-bracelet-wearing, western-wannabe ‘hippies’.
There are so many stone and wood carvings to look at and for sale (another guilty pleasure of mine). I am constantly conflicted between wanting to collect things like a magpie and wanting to have as little stuff as possible.
I decided to spent a day here, but in hindsight I should have spent a couple more days here and a couple less in Seminyak.
The Campuhan Ridge Walk
I started the day by doing this popular walk up along a ridge line, it was an easy walk, a little steep in places but it was paved with stones for most of the way. As it starts to level out you start seeing the rice paddies and a few shops and hotels, which I wasn’t expecting! At the top I stopped at the popular Karsa Cafe to have some breakfast (a banana pancake) and sit next to the lily pond. It was a beautiful spot but I would recommend eating elsewhere, maybe at one of the smaller Warungs on the way.
On the way down it started to rain and I was pretty soaked by the time I got to the bottom…
My hostel was conveniently located at the end (or the start) of the Rice Paddy walk (the only thing it has going for it!), so I took the turning and went up the hill in the rain. I figured I could get much wetter so it didn’t matter.
I really enjoyed the walk and seeing all the rice fields, and there weren’t many people up there, probably because if the rubbish weather, so it was nice to feel I was getting away from it all for a bit.
In the afternoon I went to Ubud top tourist attraction – the Monkey Forest – which is full of Macaque monkeys. They monkeys can, and often do leave the forest and come out onto the street so if you didn’t want to pay the £3 entrance fee to get into the park you could hang around outside.
I decided to go in and I am glad I did. It was chock full of tourists as expected and I did feel a bit weird wondering around by myself because everyone else seemed to be with a group, or at least one other person. It’s times like this when I wish I had someone travelling with me – when you see a tiny baby monkey and you go to tell someone but there is no one there. I did chat to a few other people but it’s not quite the same as sharing an experience with someone.
But I am here by myself so I just have to make the most of it. The monkeys can get quite aggressive and there are lots of signs up telling you how you need to act. I only had my phone any money with me and they were in my pockets, but lots of people were carrying backpacks and the monkeys like to jump on them and try to get inside, which they do quite successfully sometimes because of their weirdly dextrous human-like hands. A particularly lairy group of monkey had me a bit worried but I managed to wedge myself onto a group of random people, and laughed when a girl screamed when a monkey jumped on her, glad it wasn’t me!
There are people selling bananas to feed the monkeys with, so there is squashed banana everywhere, and the monkeys aren’t stupid, they know if you are hiding a banana behind your back and will climb up you to get it.
I realise this is completely hypocritical as I am presenting you with a bunch of pictures and a little movie from my time at the monkey forest, but the amount of people pointing cameras and phones at the monkeys, and the sight of people taking selfies is sometimes just too much. Again I am just one big conflicted contradiction. Despite all the squealing girls and the macho guys trying to get the monkeys to climb their leg, to impress the squealing girls, it is definitely worth a visit. There are a couple of temples within the forest to wonder around (but there were closed when I was there) and I was there for a couple of hours. Take bug spray though because the mosquitos are brutal.
I had some fried rice from a backstreet warung for dinner, but I have already succumbed to the Bali belly and my insides have been cramping up all day.
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