Today was a busy day! As Ubud is famous for the rice paddy fields, I had arranged for a driver to bring us to the Tegallalang rice terrace and two temples, the Hot Springs Temple and Elephant cave. The driver had suggested we even go to Mount Batur, a volcano up North but I was quite sure adding the volcano in the itinerary would be too much as I was determined to have a relaxing time in Ubud, with no rushing at all. So I was prepared to miss out some of the suggested spots so that we wouldn’t be too worn out.
We didn’t have to wake up too early for breakfast. Breakfast at Kamandalu was quite good. It was a buffet spread. While the spread wasn’t huge, there was sufficient variety. The most outstanding item was the bacon. It was crispy without being overdone.
So our driver was Merti from Drivers with Distinction. He was waiting for us at the reception and we boarded his car to start our tour. Once in the car, Merti ran through the itinerary I had arranged with him: Ibu Oka for early lunch – Tegallalang Rice Terrace – Hot Spring Temple – Elephant Cave Temple – Dinner – Kamandalu.
So to Ibu Oka we went. We purposefully had a small breakfast so that we could try the Babi Guling at Ibu Oka. Ibu Oka gets very busy towards lunch time so we headed there early. We went to the one just next to the Ubud Palace and got a table easily. At the entrance of the warung was where the chopping takes place. It could be a bit too much for some to take in.
So we decided to share just one serving of the Babi Guling on the understanding that if we love it, we’ll order one more plate.
So Babi Guling is pork with rice whereby the skin was made scrispy. It is much like the suckling pig we normally have at Chinese weddin dinners in Singapore. Except I think our suckling pigs are much nicer. Firstly, the skin of the Babi Guling was very crispy. In fact, too crispy. So it was rather tough to chew on. The meat itself was fine. Secondly, the spice sauce is different from the ones we have tasted anywhere. Its probably an acquired taste. So we didn’t order a second serving. 😳
We did order two coconut drinks.
The coconuts were huge!! If we had ordered one to share, we would still have leftovers!
After we were done, Merti then started to drive out of Ubud towards our first destination: Tegallalang.
Before we reached Tegallalang, we came across lots of green fields. Fields with the most beautiful green colours. These are rice fields.
Merti is quite the photographer. He took a lot of photos of us and even suggested poses for us. It felt as if we were on a wedding photoshoot. 😛
By the time we reached Tegallalang, the sun was up high in the sky. It was hot!! But the rice terrace was so beautiful, I forgot the heat instantly.
in the concrete jungle of Singapore, we hardly have any nice fields, let alone rice terraces. I was truly awed by the sight in front of me. But the husband was untouched. He said he has seen this in Taiwan before. Hmmm, that fact I did not know.
So it turns out we could venture into the terrace. And we did. First we had to descend from where we stood. The husband drew my attention to plastics in the field which he referred to as dementors (tip: remember Harry Potter). These plastics serve to act as scarecrows.
You know, I had forgottten how precious rice is. Since young, we would always hear the elders in the family to always tell us to finish up all the rice served to us, stating every single grain of rice is precious. With each grain of the rice in front of us, the truth stands. Each and every grain is indeed to be treasured. So much work goes into planting rice and yet there’s a lot of wastage of it. With this deeply etched in my mind, I polished off every single grain of rice served to me. Well, at least for the duration fo our trip in Bali. 😳
I was not in my best trekking attire. In flip flops and a bag which could only be hand carried and not placed over the shoulders, I was huffing and puffing in good time. I even told the husband this wasn’t quite what I had in mind for a relaxing trip. 🙄
But the views when we were in the midst of the terrace and when we have ascended it made up for the exhausting climb.
And then the realisation that we have to climb down and back up again to get back to the side we started came crashing down. Did I mention it was noon time?
We, or rather I, survived. In the comfort of the car, Merti asked if we would like to go to a coffee plantation where we could have some coffee and tea. So, why not?
The special bit about the coffee plantation is they have luwak coffee. Which is coffee beans obtained from the poo of civet cats. I have heard of similar coffee beans, where the prices for such coffee are crazily high. So the coffee beans are not quite the beans we see normally.
So apparently, only the civet cats are able to digest the coating surrounding the bean and the beans would be passed out in their poo. The beans would then be isolated from the poo and cleaned, then roasted and ground for consumption. Thats seems like quite a fair bit of work. Not for the cats though.
We were introduced to other plants within the compound. The other valuable item was vanilla sticks. Can’t remember why they are precious but it has something to do with having to do something manually. I think. 😳 We were also shown coco pods.
Once our brief introduction to the plants was over, we were told we would be given free coffee and tea. However, we would have to pay to try the Luwak coffee. We decided to try the Luwak coffee. Luckily the drinks were in small servings.
The Luwak coffee was very strong. Since we are not quite coffee drinkers, we didn’t take to it very well. Ginger tea and lemon tea were also served, and we liked these more. 🙂
While I would very much prefer a cold drink in such hot and humid weather, it was nice to be able to try a wide variety of coffee and tea. So after we took some photos at the area, which overlooks a small rice terrace, we were ushered to the retail store. We had intended to buy some of the tea we had tried but the prices were shockingly high. So we didn’t buy anything and proceeded to our next destination.
Our next destination was the Temple of hot springs, also known as Tirtu Empul.
So each portal of water have different significance. People would head to the specific portal for that ‘special effect’ the water would have. Eg, water from a specific portal would drive dreams away so people who have been dreaming a lot would head there in hope of a good slumber.
There’s always something understated about sources of spring water. For this one, the surface of the water was very calm but underneath, we could see water bubbling.
As an introduction to the Hindu religion and culture, the Hot Springs temple is excellent. It is an atypical kind of temple.
Next we headed to The Elephant Cave Temple, also known as Goa Gajah.
The elephant cave wasn’t quite worth the visit. We didn’t find the cave, which was small, to be particularly interesting. So we left Goa Gajah in about 30 mins time. We had finished the places we wanted to go and there’s still time left for our engagement with Merti.
The husband was keen to buy the mask that is used at Kamandalu so we proceeded to look for it. Merti brought us to several pottery shop and we finally found it hidden at a corner of a store. But it was too expensive and I thought the mask wasn’t all that nice. Luckily, we didn’t buy any! 😛
And even after the stops at the shops, we had time and I told Merti to bring us to Putri Spa and see if we can bring forward our foot reflexology treatment. Unfortunately, Putri Spa was fully booked 😦 We were in deep need for foot reflexology and we cancelled our 8pm appointment and decided to head elsewhere when we saw another spa down the street. It’s called Spa Bontanical.
I remembered reading good reviews of Spa Botanical online and decided we could give it a try. We both took a nap while our feet were being massaged because we were both tired out from the busy day.
After we emerged from the spa, we were in good time to head to Putu’s Wild Ginger. I had made reservations for dinner at 6.30pm and we reached at 6.15pm. However, when we reached there, the restaurant was all closed with no signs of it getting ready for dinner!! 😯 Merti thought I had the wrong address because he initially had no idea where I had directed him to. But I showed him the signboard and he knew I was right. Then about three people emerged from the house and Merti asked about dinner. They said they were closed as they were getting ready for an event and they were not aware we had a reservation. I was sooooo upset as I hate having my plans disrupted and reviews for the food were very good and I was keen to try. On hindsight, we were lucky it was closed.
So we decided to head to Naughty Nuri’s for dinner. It was one of our best meals in Ubud.
I ordered Mee Goreng, he ordered fried rice and we ordered the famous ribs.
We were so satisfied with the ribs we even thought of ordering another serving. But we decided to get sate instead. Balinese satay is very different from our local satay. The meat is more chunky and hence the taste of the meat is preserved. I liked their satay more than our local ones.
So being ‘played out’ by Putu was a blessing in disguise because we had a real good meal at Naughty Nuri’s which was ranked about 30 something in Tripadvisor at that time. Another sign that restaurant rankings on Tripadvisor’s are not to be taken seriously.
Time to rest and get ready for, gulp, another busy day whereby we have to be ready by 8.30 am. 😮