We spent almost a whole day in Ubud. Ubud is higher up in the mountains, and full of rice paddies. It was about an 1.5 hour ride from where we were, and of course our first stop was the Monkey Forest. In this forest, there are a few magnificent temples that are not open to the public, and yes, hundreds of monkeys roaming around the ground. These monkeys are like little sneaky thieves, if you have food hidden in your bag, they will find it and snatch your bag away from you. We walked around the ground with extreme caution, saw a boy whose backpack got taken from a gang of monkeys, and also saw the cutest baby monkeys playing/fighting with each other. Most of them are pretty friendly, if you are brave enough to signal them, they will climb on you and let you take pictures. One did climb on me uninvited and all I could do was to stand there while my friends shooed it away. Don’t panic or the monkeys might freak out and bite you.
A very important advice: Have lots of bug spray with you, I got 7 or 8 bites from the forest, none were flea bites thankfully, but the mosquitos there are vicious. A few of my bites swelled up to almost 2 inches in diameter. Get something that has a higher percentage of Deet, the usually 5 or 8% will not cut it.
After a nerve wrecking stroll in the Monkey Forest, we followed a walking tour route from the Lonely Planet guidebook and began a 4km walk back to central Ubud. Check out these suburbia homes, gorgeous!
We treaded through rice fields, saw roosters and cows. This was away from all the hustle and bustle, very few cars until we were near central Ubud. Simply unreal! With no GPS, only a simple map from the guidebook, we felt like we were lost in the middle of nowhere because none of the roads were labeled.
After we got back to civilization, our stomachs decided it was time for lunch. Central Ubud was very busy, filled with street vendors and shops. We found a busy restaurant listed in the guidebook called Nomad and gave it a try. After being semi-lost and walked under 90+ heat and high humidity for over an hour, food has never tasted so good.
This was the complimentary appetizer, battered and fried spinach leaves. Very unique and tasty, imagine veggie chips but with actual whole spinach leaves, we all wondered why the leaves didn’t wilt or curl up in the frying process.
Papaya milk shake! And I chose 6 small items for my lunch – seafood satays (with lemongrass as skewers), spring rolls, kangkung (water spinach), ikan pepes (fish in banana leaves), tempes (fried soybeans with palm sugar and chili, this was one of my favorite dishes to get), beef rendang.
Nasi Kuning (yellow rice that’s usually flavored with coconut milk and turmeric), and of course, satays!
After lunch, we visited the street vendor marketplace and bought some crafts. Haggling really is an art! Anyway, in an especially touristy area like this, vendors expect you to haggle so they start out with a ridiculously high price first, most of the time you can get the price down by at least 50%. We also visited the Central Ubud Palace, people were preparing for a royal cremation ceremony so it was under pretty tight security. Remember to bring a sarong with you, most temples require visitors to dress appropriately, an easy way is to wrap the sarong around your waist while covering the legs.
On our way back to our villa, our driver took us to another grand temple. We went during Ramadan (Holy month) so we saw lots of people busy making offerings and other preparations.
We met up with a friend who knew her way around pretty well. She took us to Padang Padang beach. To get to the beach, visitors have to walk down windy and steep stairs, and through this narrow cave.
We watched the sunset on the beach. What a beautiful way to end our day.
Coming up next, all about our cooking class in Bali!