After a few weeks working in China, we made the most of hanging out in the Indo-Pacific by booking a short Bali holiday. We were fortunate to leave just a day before the volcano decided to spew, so we thank ourselves lucky, but our thoughts remain with those on the island.
Sadly, our schedules meant this could only be a 4 day escape, but nevertheless we’d soak up what we could of the Indonesian food and culture, and perhaps some sun too! What’s even better, my partner Rafal had booked a most beautiful retreat, the Amora Villas in Ubud!
Landing in Denpasar revealed a most modern airport, which immediately told me what a holiday destination Bali was. The flurry of Australian accents on the travelator was also music to my ears. It was many years since I was down under! The airport was awfully frantic, as was the ride out of Denpasar. Gosh, I was wondering if Bali really was that relaxed paradise that’s always advertised! Even driving through our resort Ubud was flooded with tourists, motorbikes, and tourists on motorbikes. Spotting Starbucks in the high street was quite a turn off for me too!
But, soon, the crowds faded and our holiday in Bali was about to really begin! Amora Villas was a quiet jungle haven, perched on a ridge and planted with every exotic flower I’d spent my childhood pawing at in plant encyclopaedias! I’m never one to boast, but our villa was divine! And it was a birthday treat for me too! We had a private pool!! My first time! I made a note to take some gratuitous photos of me in it before we left! The hotel only had 12 ish villas, so had a beautifully serene feeling.
Not the type of people to sit about too much, we ended up filling our days with small excursions, either by mopeds driven by ourselves or limousines (aka taxis) driven by others. After a few false starts and spontaneous darts across the Bali roads, I managed to handle a moped quite well! We stopped at local markets and took the backroads, doing our best to make our own path through this well-travelled island. The rice fields of Tegallalang were beautiful, and I really admired the entrepreneurship of the lady shop owner who offered parking space outside her shop, and tempted us to buy some of her wares! A true entrepreneur!
We rode much further up the roads out of Ubud and were actually heading for the volcano (not actually realising it was advancing in its eruption soon). Thankfully, cooler mountain air and a monsoon forced us stop in a roadside hotel for some hot ginger tea and towel swaddling. After that, we bought roadside rain macs, and turned back to base!
Another excursion took us to the Sangeh Monkey Forest, where an early morning visit gave us an exclusive audience with the nut-loving monkeys (macaques). In partnership with a monkey guide, we walked the temples and desperately tried to take photos of monkeys where the genitalia wasn’t TOO obvious..!
Later that day, we chose to explore the Nung Nung waterfall. This was also the moment the sky decided to cast aside the cloud. All in all, this made our excursion down 35,000 steps (probably!) the best workout since my CrossFit days! It was totally worth it though, even if the water spray put my camera at risk! Rafal took that moment to swagger with his waterproof Samsung!
We also hit the Ulun Danu temple that day, but it was a little too tourist-heavy for us, so we took the obligatory photos and then scarpered to a roadside plant shop. Oh, and bought 3 Tamarillo to thank a stall holder for allowing us to sample every other fruit on her stall! She was another good entrepreneur, methinks!
This was also the day we pigged out on a late lunch, with a veritable feast of local dishes, from chicken sate to mie goreng (fried noodles) and tempeh (my new favourite, small cakes made of fermented soy beans, but not as smoothly processed as tofu).
On our last day, we accidentally ended up having two massages, as we explored Ubud centre and popped into a pretty spa, then jumped in on a cancellation at Karsa Spa later in the day. The second masseurs must’ve thought we were extremely supple! I also cantered around the Ubud country lanes and ridge walk with my camera on that final day, satisfying my botanical lust, which I’m honoured to share with you all in this gallery of the best 10:
Even though it was only a short holiday, it was just the tonic and I’d be happy to advise anyone who is considering a trip there too! Please get in touch 🌺🌴🌻🌵