No trip to Ubud in Bali (Indonesia) is complete without seeing some of the countryside and the seaside. With our tour guide and driver (after seeing how they drive, Joyce was very thankful she was not trying to drive and Tom was very thankful he didn’t have to navigate the multiple roads), we set off to explore.
We drove through Bali villages, rice terraces and farms and countryside, through the Mundak Valley, to Lake Bratan, with its pretty gardens, small forest (with small Red Dear), children’s rides and boats. It is most famous, however, for its Temple on the Lake, or, in the rainy season, when you must cross a bridge to get there–the Floating Temple.
Then, after a brief detour walking down to the base of a 130-foot waterfall, up over the 1,200 meter spine of the island (which, as can be seen clearly from the coast, was formed by volcanos) to its lovely, and less populated northeast coast, along the Bali Sea. Our destination, however, was not the beach, but nearby Menjangan Island.
But before leaving in the morning for the island, we made a brief, very enjoyable, very atmospheric stop at the resort town of Pemuteran. We had time for a lovely drink and a generally mediocre dinner (seafood kebab and seafood frito misto) at Taman Selini Hotel’s Cafe Selini and then to spend the night in the lovely night at the Taman Sari Cottages resort. We took a morning boat to a reef off the island’s coast which, according to some diving magazines, is supposed to have some of the prettiest coral in the world. We couldn’t be so close and not stop. It was more than worth the drive and the overnight stay. In fact,we wish we had more time, both to explore some of the area’s other snorkeling spots and no more fully enjoy the Taman Sari cottages resort. (See our blog on Indonesian snorkeling trips.)
On the way back from the coast, we stopped at a local fruit and spice market. We were like kids in a candy store. As mentioned in the above section on Indonesian food, we love much of the local fruit. While I have always enjoyed mango, I developed something of a passion for it on this trip. I am even beginning to develop a bit of taste for durian (stinky, but with a pleasant custardy taste). When we stopped at the market, we were tempted by tastes of these and many other fruits–a number of which we ended up buying. Although we didn’t even begin to sample everything, we particularly enjoyed the starfruit, jackfruit, dragon fruit, and especially the mangosteen–one of our new favorite fruits. We also tried, liked and ended up buying a couple additional snacks, such as the subtlety-spiced steamed tamarind peanuts and the fried tapioca crackers with a drizzle of liquid brown sugar.
The trip, without stops, takes about three hours.