After being dropped of at the bus terminal near Denpassar in Bali after our epic liveaboard action, it was onwards and upwards and towards Ubud we all headed. Ubud is described as the center for Bali’s arts and crafts which is located 1 hours bemo (Indonesian tuk tuk / small taxi) from where we were dropped off. After a little time haggling over the cost of the bemo to Ubud we set off on the 40km journey north. The journey to Ubud was comfortable enough with all three of us jammed into the back and riding North we passed an endless number of shops selling carvings, statues, masks, water features and shrines. It almost felt as though we never left Denpassar as there were no gaps in any of the towns we passed and soon enough we had arrived in Ubud and on the search for accommodation.
Using our trusty bible (The Lonely Planet) we found that most of the places suggested had gone up in price (by a lot) since the time of printing, but soon enough we found ourselves a nice little retreat away from the main road and with a fan and cold shower, ornate door carvings and extensive balcony at a reasonable £6 a night we were happy enough. As we were pretty much exhausted from doing 26 dives in 8 days, Ubud for us was more about rest and relaxation than anything else and after a couple of hours wandering around the center of town we realised that Ubud seemed to be a haven for tourists and holiday makers away from Kuta. Every other shop down the Monkey Forest Road (the main road in Ubud) was selling all sorts of carvings etc, most of which were either too expensive or too large for us to fit in any of our packs!In the days that followed we spent our time sleeping (lots of), wandering around the stalls and markets, being asked whether we wanted a taxi (even when you said no, their response was “tomorrow then?!” they never miss an opportunity!) or a tour car or bike or moped, visiting the Royal Palace (which was rather small for a royal abode) and a a quick self guided tour around the Monkey Forest.
The Royal Palace was a nice small palace showing fine Indonesian architecture and was also home a night to dancing displays and exhibitions. Monkey Forrest, 15 mins walk down the road was home to sacred monkey reserve where you walk amongst the grounds and houses approximately 340 Macaque monkeys (big and small) which provided a lot of fun and excitement. The guide books say not to enter the ground with any food for a good reason. As we entered there was a English girl with a fresh bunch of bananas standing at the entrance. Within 30 seconds she was ambushed by a couple of monkeys, had all her bananas stolen and then they we making a beeline for her water bottle. After a lot of screaming on her part they fled off into the trees. The monkeys themselves are not viscous, but like to slap you to show you their dissatisfaction! The girls learned her lesson but must have earmarked by all the monkeys in the forest as we bumped into her a few times on our walk around the forrest and each time we saw her she was being harassed by some primate friends!
During the liveaboard i read about “Bebek Betutu” – Indonesian slow roasted duck and I noticed a number of restaurants serving this famous Indonesia dish, so one night I splashed out (as it is double the price of most dishes) and tucked in. The duck is slow roasted in Indonesian spices for 12 hours and then served with rice and a selection of Indonesian vegetables. The duck fell of the bone and was one of the best dishes I have had so far in Indonesia. Soon enough we had rested and revived ourselves and we were on our way for more diving adventures and up the coast to the East point of Bali and Tulamben and the home of the USS Liberty Wreck a world famous wreck dive, so it was time to haggle for a taxi and get on our way!