Hopefully you have already enjoyed my first post on Bali. If you haven’t yet read it, you can catch up. Bali Part 1
Part II Magical Ubud
I can’t rave about this place enough. We stayed outside of town in an area called Jalan and found a slice of heaven staying at the newly built Amora Villas. It’s so worth spending that bit extra to stay in their terrace suite pool villa. Floor to ceiling windows look out to your private pool, which in turn has a jungle view, and as well as an indoor shower, the room also has an outdoor bath tub. Even if you opt for the cheaper option, it also has a great community infinity pool so you’re not missing out on that pool view. Breakfast is included and you are given a menu to select from which can also be enjoyed in your room for no extra cost. If you’re into yoga and fancy an early morning start, this is also included. A free shuttle service is offered to and from town at various times of the day, but we opted to hire a scooter for the duration. There is also an incredible 30-40 minute walk through the jungle that has been well trodden and worth the walk. This will take you to the start of town.
A visit to Ubud would not be complete without visiting the Monkey Forest. These cheeky fellas will hunt out food so don’t leave any in your pockets. Some are even savvy enough to unzip your bag, so if you buy bananas on your way in, hold onto them carefully as you will find yourself surrounded. The best way to attract them is to hold your arm in the air with the banana and before you know it you will have a furry friend on your shoulder. They are not dangerous but you can spot the alpha males, so if you are nervous I would not do this when they are around.
If you enjoy trekking, then a climb up the active volcano of Mount Batur is a must. At 1717m above sea level, it is an overnight trek taking around two hours which again can be booked locally. A driver will collect you from your hotel around 2am and drive you to a café, where you will be given pancakes and coffee to get your energy levels up. I would recommend a good pair of walking shoes or trainers.
On arrival, your guide will supply you with a torch and you begin your ascent to the top. You are left to climb at your own pace with your guide keeping a watchful eye on everyone, so if you are slow, don’t worry, no one will pressure you. As you begin to reach the top, the sun is beginning to rise and suddenly you see the beauty of being above the clouds. It’s breath-taking watching the colours in the sky change and realising how high you have gone.
Your tour guide will then cook breakfast which generally consists of eggs and fruit, and this is where the fun begins... out of nowhere wild monkeys appear, who clearly know when feeding time is - and they are not shy about stealing your hard-earned breakfast. Again, don’t be panicked by them, the guides are used to dealing with them.
After breakfast, you will take a walk around the volcano when you can ask your guide any questions. The descent is quick, but you do feel the pressure in your knees and as the sun is up it can get very sweaty. Make sure you have sunscreen and water with you. It’ll be breakfast time when you arrive at the bottom, but reward yourself with a fresh cold beer – you’ve been up all night after all!
You should arrive back to your hotel at approximately 10 am. Other things to see in Ubud are the daily markets where you can find great handmade bags and other crafts. On a Sunday evening, you can visit the Ubud Palace and watch the traditional Balinese dance. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what the story was about but it was great to watch and draws the crowds in.
If you’re a foodie, then Mama Warang is a great place to eat. She is famous for her homemade spring rolls and peanut sauce.
It was a sad day saying goodbye to Ubud, but it was time to move onto Gili T. The drive to the port takes about 1-2 hours, followed by a 1.5 hour boat ride. On arrival into Gili T, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the absence of cars. The only modes of transport available are bicycles and horse and cart. I must say, we felt very disturbed by the horses as the heat is very full on and they carry significant weight in the carts. Being cocky westerners who clearly know best!, we wanted to give the horse some water. The locals said ‘by all means, but they won’t drink it....’ and sure enough, they didn’t. As they are working horses they tend to have all their food and drink in the morning and at the end of the day. Such was our ignorance. However, many of these horses are abused, so if you witness this you can report it to Gili Carriage Horse Support Network .
There are three Gili islands, the others being Meno and Air, but we opted for T as the others are known to be quieter. On reflection though I may have tried one of the others. Gili T is fun in an overthe-top cheesy way, so if cheese is your bag then I would come here, but we weren’t blown away. However, there are some very pretty stretches of beach here and if you cycle to the east of the Island you can sip a cocktail at Exile bar and watch the sunset.
We stayed at Les Villas Ottalia for the first few nights which was lovely - rustic with a good sized private pool, a veranda and an outdoor kitchenette. Breakfast was included and they also offered free bicycle hire.
For our last couple of nights, we moved to Le Pirate as I had seen these beautiful beach huts on Instagram, assuming it a good place to end the holiday. The reality is, it’s overpriced and very unfriendly. Nothing was included in the over-inflated price and any drinks or food purchased were also expensive.
The upside? The beach here is pristine, with a lovely swing in the sea. Plus, if you cycle for just under ten minutes you can hire snorkel gear and swim alongside turtles, if you’re lucky enough for them to appear. They did for us, and it was magical.
If you are returning to Bali to catch a flight, then I would be cautious about the information given to you by the ticket sellers. We had an international flight at 8pm so opted for the boat leaving at midday along with a driver at the other side, as this was due to arrive in plenty of time, they failed to inform us that the boat was in fact a slow one and stopped at all the neighbouring islands. The driver was there to great the group on our arrival into the port, and then informed us that this was also not direct to the airport as we had been told and would arrive at the airport just before 8pm. Things did get a bit heated and a few of the touts got aggressive but thankfully nothing came of it. There was another couple in the same predicament, so we shared a taxi. I couldn’t help but think this was a common con that happened to make extra money, but at least we made the flight.
My all-round view of Bali and Gili? Amazing. Especially Bali. The Hindu culture on Bali is present everywhere, it’s so well looked after and the people really are lovely. As the locals haggle with you, there’s a flash of a cheeky smile accompanied by ‘what’s good for you is good for me!’ - my time here certainly was good for me.