After 3 days in Seminyak, we headed farther in the island towards Ubud. We were able to hire a driver, Era (he is awesome) through our hotel to drive us to our last hotel for the trip, while stopping at a few sites along the way.
The first spot we stopped was Pura Tirta Empul, discoverd in AD 926, which is one of Bali's most important temples located near the town of Tampaksiring. The name of the temple comes from the ground water source named "Tirta Empul" and is the source of the Pakerisan river.
One of the main sites of the temple is the petirtaan (bathing structure), famous for its holy spring water where Balinese Hindus go for ritual purification. Legend has it that the sacred springs were created by the god Indra. Mayadanawa poisoned his forces so he punctured the earth to create a fountain of immortality to revive his crew - explaining why the Balinese come to bathe in these sacred waters for healing and spiritual purposes.
People wishing to take part in this holy purification first make an offering at the main temple, then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray. Bathers start in the pool all the way to the left, praying, then dipping and cleansing themselves under the first water spout. They then join the queue at the next spout to their right and the process continues until they have cleansed themselves under all 30 waterspouts in the two purification pools. (Nate and I did not join in because we did not want to show disrespect to the Hindu religion but the whole process was awesome to watch #imortaility!)
After watching Balinese perform the famous ritual, we went inside to explore the temple grounds and see the main spring.
The main attraction here is a long rectangular pool carved of stone, filled with koi and fed by the sacred springs bubbling up into the crystal clear pool. (See video below of the springs bubbling)
After Tirta Empul, we headed to Gunung Kawi. Gunung Kawi is one of Bali's oldest and largest monuments. It is made up of 10 rock-cut candi (shrines/memorials) cut out of the rock face in imitation of actual statues standing at around 8 meters high. Each candi is believed to be a memorial to a member of the 11th century Balinese royalty but it's not known for sure. Another legend says that the whole group of memorials was carved out of the rock face in one night by the strong fingernails of Kebo Iwa. #impressive #whoshismanicurist
To get down to these ancient memorials, you have to walk down over 270 stone steps, but there are beautiful views along the way of streams and rice fields #cantcomplain #"roughlife"
Once you descend the steps, the valley opens up and these beautiful stone memorials are separated by the Pakerisan River (fed by the springs of Tirta Empul), with 4 memorials to your left and 5 across the way to the right. The whole scene feels surreal and almost tomb raider-esque with the ancient carvings covered with greenery and vines hanging down from huge trees near the river.
While exploring the grounds of Gunung Kawi, it started to lightly rain/sprinkle. Since we live in Okinawa and this happens quite often, we both didn't mind and kept exploring. While walking back towards the car, we saw our tour guide/driver, Era, running around looking for us at the bottom near the memorials. He had raced down the steps (all the steps!) with umbrellas for us once he realized it started raining! #nowthatswhaticallservice What an awesome gesture - color us impressed!
Our final stop before our hotel was the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. These beautiful rice paddies involve the subak (traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system), which according to history, was passed down by a revered holy man named Rsi Markandeya in the 8th century. Tegallalang forms the three most splendid terraced landscapes in Ubud's shared region, with the others being in the villages of Pejeng and Campuhan.
These beautiful views are one of the things I picture when I think of Bali.... and they did not disappoint. Everywhere you looked it was gorgeous and so GREEN. Nate and I walked around the terraces for around an hour, exploring and taking it all in.
After our tour, we said goodbye to our awesome driver Era, and headed into Umae Villa, our hotel we stayed at in Bali. Here we had our own private villa with our bedroom on the second floor (and views of rice fields), and an open downstairs complete with a private pool, lounge chairs, table, bathroom, kitchenette, and shower. Pretty legit and all for a great price #loveBali!
After settling in, we walked around the neighborhood to check out restaurants, shops, and of course some spas. We wanted to keep up with our goal of a massage a day if we could :) #toughmission #lifeishard So after a nice hour foot massage, we found a spot for dinner - Buddha Bowl. This awesome spot was located only half a block away from our hotel. It had a range of foods from Indonesian to Vietnamese to Thai. We started off with some spring rolls and then Nate went with the Pad Thai, and I got some Pho soup since it has been a while since I've had this deliciousness. Both meals hit the spot and were delicious. Nate also got a sandwich to go in case he was hungry later (this came in handy for our early morning wake up call). After a yummy dinner, we headed back to our hotel and tried to fall asleep early since we had a 2am wake up call for a hike the next morning! #exerciseatthathourisnotfun #wakingupat2?!
At 2am, we got up (ugghh #notamorningperson #whyamiawake), and waited for our guide to pick us up from our hotel in Ubud. From here we drove around an hour and a half - 2 hrs to Mt. Batur. The last few km were on dirt, bumpy, small, windy roads to get to our hiking start in pitch black.
Mt. Batur's highest peak is around 1717 meters high (about 5,630 ft). It is unique in that is has one crater inside another. The outer crater is around 14 km long, with it's rim about 1500 meters high. There have been 20 eruptions recorded between 1824 and 1994, with 3 major eruptions in 1917, 1926, and 1963. Geological activity and tremors still continue regularly! #uhoh #pleasedonteruptwhilewehike Lucky for us - no issues or earthquakes or eruptions happened during our hike :) #whataretheodds
We began our hike in total darkness, part way up the volcano already. Lucky for us, we only had to hike about a little less than 1 km up the hill. Armed with flashlights and a local guide, we started our ascent. From the start, you could tell our guide does this hike daily. #mountaingoatspiritanimal Our tour took us up a part of the mountain that was steeper than the other tour groups - but we were isolated and not surrounded by other tours, which was peaceful. She had no trouble navigating around the rocks and up the steep hill, without so much as a heavy breath. I won't lie, I was struggling a bit with her speed and how steep the terrain was, but we made it up to the top in a little less than an hour. I was beat already #exercisedonefortheday But once we were at the top, we sat on a bench with an Australian who had also booked the tour. Here we got to enjoy some coffee while we waited for breakfast and the sun to rise.
We all got to enjoy a breakfast made up of a hard boiled egg, and steamed banana sandwich - all of which was cooked in the steam from the volcano #sweet #breakfastofchamps It was a bit cloudy and we were worried we wouldn't see much of the sunrise. Slowly, our patience and hike up the steep hill was worth it. We began to see the golden rays of the sun slowly peak through the backdrop of clouds.
As more time passed, the clouds started to burn off and we could see more and more of the local landscape below us. The clouds slowly coming off the mountain added an eerie scenery around us but made the views even more beautiful and rewarding.
We walked around the edge of the volcano to go check out where they cooked our breakfast that morning. They had little steam ovens dug into the side of the volcano - pretty cool to check out. Here we also got some gorgeous views of the crater of Mt. Batur.
After our well earned breakfast, and enjoying the views from the top of Mt. Batur, we began our descent back down the volcano. Now that it was later in the morning (around 6am), the clouds had disappated and the sun was shining thorugh. The hike down was a hell of a lot easier than hiking up as well! #noflashlightsorbreaksneeded
Once we got back down to the car, we drove to some local hot springs at the base of the mountain. Here we got to soak in the warm water (not hot but still enjoyable) and relax after our early morning hike.
On our drive back to Ubud, we stopped and got to try some local coffee, including the famous Luwak coffee or kopi luwak (cat poo coffee). This coffee is also some of the most expensive, sought after coffee in the world - naturally we had to try it - poo or not. The process starts when the catlike civet (luwak) eats ripe coffee cherries. When the cherries are being digested, the cherries and pulp are removed, but not the coffee beans. During the digestion process, some different fermentation occurs, which gives the coffee beans an interesting, unique flavor. The feces are then collected by the farmers who wash, dry, and pound the beans to remove the skin, and then finally sort and roast them. The coffee is so expensive due to its elaborate production process - but I also heard from my dad that a lab near New York has found a way to replicate the digestion process of the bean that occurs in the cat - meaning the luwak coffee may start to have more supply and not be as expensive to produce.... we shall see!
The coffee has a bitter, strong-brew flavor but is also very smooth. Nate and I enjoyed it and even sent a bag home so my parents could enjoy some 'poo coffee' from their loving daughter :)
After learning about the process, we got to try different coffees and teas (see the long list below). My favorite were the gingseng coffee, coconut coffee, and ginger coffee. The mangosteen tea was also tasty and the ginger tea was quite spicy but good for colds apparently (and tumeric tea) #themoreyouknow
Even though our tour was around 9 hours - we were dropped off at our hotel around 11am due to our extra early start! Getting up at 2am and hiking messed up my whole system, so I spent a lazy day in bed and enjoying our private pool, reading and relaxing :) Also went and enjoyed a nice foot massage nearby #massageaday #missionontrack
We started our next day in Bali by taking a cooking class. But first - a stop at a local market to buy our ingredients. Here we got to try some local fruits and foods as well. One of them were tiny little coconut sugar pancakes that were quite yummy. We also got to try some mangosteen and snake skin fruit. Snake skin fruit literally looks like it is covered in snake skin. Once you peel the skin away, you take a bite out of the white flesh. It has the texture of raw garlic (kind of crunchy) but the flavor of hint of citrus with a dry aftertaste. It was interesting and a unique fruit to try - and one I had never heard of!
We had beautiful rice fields next to our cooking school that we had to take some photos of.
After our market tour and rice fields visit - we were ready to get to work and start cook'n! Our instructor, Ketut, made our class easy. He divided up the tasks between the class so we all cooked different parts of the meal together. See below for our final product :)
After all our hard work cooking, we got to sit down and enjoy our spoils: Soup Ayam (Balinese chicken soup), Sate Tusuk Ayam (chicken on a stick with peanut sauce), Pepes Ikan (steamed fish in banana leaf), Ayam Bumbu Bali (Balinese fried chicken), Kolak Pisang (braised sweet potato in palm sugar gravy with ice cream) - yum!
Read about the final part of our Bali trip next!
xoxo - M
Follow in our footsteps:
Pura Tirta Empul
Price: adult/child 15,000/7500Rp, parking 2000Rp
Jl. Tirta, Tampaksiring, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552, Indonesia
Price: adult/child incl sarong 15,000/7500Rp, parking 2000Rp
Ngadirenggo/Htn Wlingi, Blitar, East Java, Indonesia
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Hours: 7am - 5pm
Jl. Tegallalang, Banjar Ceking, Gianyar, Tegallalang, Denpasar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
(good value, nice rooms, good location (within walking distance of monkey forest and town), good service - def recommend!)
Jln Raya Pengosekan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Jl. Raya Pengosekan Ubud No.108, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
7:30am - 11pm
Mt. Batur Sunrise Trek
We booked through TripAdvisor/Viator for around $65/person. Not a bad hike, and beautiful views - great tour!
Payuk Cooking Class
+6281 246 36 8226
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!