Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bali - The sights.

Bali is probably one of the best places to go to if you don't intend to plan your itinerary with military precision. J and I got there with only our flights and hotel booked, and the rest was really up in the air.

-- Surprisingly great little gem of a hotel. This is Papa's Cafe.

We booked a car at our hotel and told them the sights we wanted to go to. It was pain-free, the booking came with a driver and it was up to us to fix the set off time. None of that "waking up at 6am to board a large tour bus with a few other million tourists" crap. Absolutely genius.

J and I hopped on the car after brekkie and we were off! On the way to Kintamani, the streets were lined with shops selling woodcraft, silverwork and pottery. The driver took us to a few craft shops on the way. We didn't want to, but we didn't refuse either. I think the drivers get a commission from the shops if they bring business, and since we were not pushed for time we went for a look.

-- Display room.

We saw batik and woodcraft but decided not to get anything because it would be a pain to ship a giant wooden coconut tree home.

We bought sterling silver jewelry from the locals. They are all very intricate and handmade!

They are not that expensive. The ladies spend a lot of time making these jewelry, from melting the silver to threading them through tiny holes to make silver threads to finally crafting them into little jewelry. We felt obliged to buy because although there were about 20 tourists in the shop, everyone was browsing. We wondered how the ladies got by with little business.

Then again that was the first shop, so 400,000 rupiah was ok to J and I. Ask us again on another day and we would have balked at that figure.

We finally reached Kintamani village, home of Mt Batur.

It is a volcano and you can clearly see the calderas. One has formed a lake, and the other surrounds the mountain.

Our driver brought us to a restaurant and it was a good surprise.

We were seated on the edge of what must be a cliff, across from the friggin' caldera and mountain. Nice view!

After visiting Mt Batur, we headed to our next stops Monkey Forest and Ubud market before going back to our hotel.

Monkey Forest is actually a place of worship, and visitors have to pay a small fee to enter. J bought some "temple-approved" bananas to feed the monkeys (to my absolute horror). The monkeys are used to visitors, and will follow you around until you hand over the bananas.

Tall trees!

The temple is closed to public but you can peer over a little gate. This site has been around since the 14th century!!!

Family of monkeys!

Super cute, until they spotted us and came over for bananas. EEK!!!

[Our driver was a very nice man, and we decided to hire his car again. The thing about car hiring is that it may be a little more expensive at the hotel, but it is a whole lot less dodgy. There are lots of little travel shops/stalls along the streets of Kuta, offering car hire and various day trips at very competitive prices. J and I are just... skeptical. We would rather pay $20 more than to risk our holiday. ]

During our trip, J and I visited Bali Safari and Marine Park. There are 2 zoos in Bali, one being Bali Safari and the other, Bali Zoo. Bali Safari and Marine Park is new and it is quite amazing.

It is an open zoo, so there is no cages. Guests will board a mini bus at the entrance and driven into the heart of Bali Safari. It is quite "Jurassic Park", since all that separated civilization is a tall gate that opens up after another gate closes behind the bus.

One of the guests wanted to open the rooftop window to get a better photo of the lioness. I mean, that has got to be one of the most STUPID suggestions ever. Lions jump. They are carnivores. They will bite your head off, and spit out the SLR camera in your friggin' hand. And the lions are right outside the window. If he wants to be the first fatality in the park, I don't want to be in the same bus as him when he screams in pain and terror. What the hell, man.
  • I sat on an elephant.
  • Rubbed a baby tiger's belly.
  • Touched a baby lion's paw.
  • Fed carrots to an elephant.
  • Had lunch next to the lions.

Pretty amazing experience in my books. That probably maxed out all my "contact with animals" credit for the rest of the year. I have an inexplicable fear of all living things.

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