Bali Travel Diary - Part 3

After getting stuck in a torrential downpour the previous day, we figured it was probably best to get up and get out and do whatever it was we wanted to do first thing while the weather held up. We could then come back and chill at the villa and swim and if it rained it wouldn't matter.

While sitting around the breakfast table we made our plans for the day (this basically became a daily ritual). My friends had heard about this walk that heaps of people recommended we check out while we were here, so we figured we'd go give that a go today, and then maybe just check out the surrounding area afterwards. We also decided we all wanted to make ourselves feel really pampered and luxe and book full body massages. Asking our staff if they had any recommendations for places to go, they told us they could arrange for the massages to be brought to us, and they could be ready and waiting when we got back. We booked in a time to be pampered and then, struggling to get out of our robes, we got onto the bus to leave the villa, while vowing that we needed to try and make room for some more time to chill out here.

The walk we were embarking on was called the Campuhan Ridge Walka nine kilometre nature walk that makes you feel like you've been transported to some other place. Being that it's always hot and humid in Bali, no matter what you're doing you're going to work up a sweat, but the walk itself is super easy and without a doubt anyone could do it. I would however probably recommend going in the morning or afternoon when the sun isn't at its hottest so it doesn't feel to overwhelming.

You start by walking across the Campuhan Valley which gives amazing views of all the surrounding tropical foliage. We stopped along the way to get pictures and check out the amazing view. As you walk further, you leave behind that rainforest feeling and begin to see some of the amazing rice fields that Bali is so well known for. The vastness of these fields combined with the perfect symmetry of all the planted crops makes for an amazing sight. As you get towards the end of the walk you'll start to hit buildings again, which house cafes, shops and we even discovered there was villas and hotels out there. We didn't have any time to stop and eat there as we had a set time for our driver to pick us up, so instead we turned around and made our way back.

I always find walks like these soothing and enjoyable for many reasons. Of course first and foremost was the amazing views we were surrounded by the entire time. Also, because it wasn't an overly exhausting walk, it gave all of us the opportunity to chat (like we didn't do that enough all ready). However there seems to be something about being outside in some beautiful nature (maybe it's the relaxing feeling you get) that usually brings out more serious and thoughtful topics of conversation that, by the end, makes you feel more connected with each other.

On our drive in to the walk, we had passed by the Ubud Monkey Forest and all the shops and sites in that area. While none of us had any desire to go to the monkey forest, we were keen to check out the shops in the surrounding area, so when we made our way back to the beginning of the walk, we got our driver to drop us back off there for a couple of hours.

While in Bali, I would personally avoid any and all attractions that involve animals. Last time I was there, I wasn't so informed and had gone to a place where we were all able to pet a tiger and have photos with it, I know shudder at the thought. First, and this relates specifically to the monkey forest, I have heard many a story about how the monkeys can be trained to steal your belongings as you walk through the forest, and quite frankly I didn't feel like having monkeys trying to grab at me for the entire walk. Also, in a place like Bali, well any place for that matter as well, you can never be 100% sure how those animals are being treated behind the scenes. For example with the tiger I had been silly enough to visit on my first trip, for a tiger to sit that motionless while surrounded by dozens of people, sure there is a possibility that it's simply be trained to do that and has been brought up by humans since it was a baby and therefore is not phased by them. However there is also the possibility that they have been injected with some type of drug to keep them sedated. Sure, from the outside there is no way of knowing which of the following is true for wherever you may be, but for me, the fact that there is even the possibility that the animal is being kept and treated in a way that is not fair or natural, means I prefer to steer entirely clear of any such attractions these days. I'm all for zoos, nature parks or anything of the sort that has the aim of keeping a couple of animals in order to breed them and help their species, I think it's awesome that people are helping to keep certain animal species existent on our planet, but otherwise, it just doesn't feel right and fair to me to keep animals, particularly if they're of a larger size, cooped up.

Walking along and looking at the various shops and sights, we eventually decided to stop for lunch at Wanara Kitchen. At first, being that the place was so empty, we were a little sceptical about our choice, but boy was that scepticism off. The inside of the restaurant was super modern and trendy, it would fit perfectly within Newcastle or any other trendy suburb; they even had some street art-type murals on the wall which almost completely sold me. A couple of my friends ordered some coffees and they said they were some of the best we'd had on the trip so far, so if you're in need of a good coffee this is a place I'd recommend. I ordered myself a fresh juice (the flavour combination of which now escapes me) and the mushroom risotto and both were completely on point. The fresh juice was exactly what I needed after the hot walk, and the perfect portion sizing of the meal, which I thought looked a bit small when it first came out,  left me feeling satisfied and not grossly over full. By the time we finished up it was about time to head back to our driver to get back in time for a massage.

We decided to stop at a small mini mart type shop to grab some snacks for us to have back at our villa; little did we know how so seemingly insignificant and simple a choice would end up leading to another one of the funniest memories of the trip; something that still cracks me up as I think back to it now.. Loaded up with some snacks in hand, we began to walk back to our driver, who was parked in the Monkey Forest carpark. As you get closer to the Monkey Forest area you start to see bunches of monkeys sitting around on the sidewalks and on the tops of the shops and stalls. As we got closer to the Forest, a couple of my friends say they heard a lady yelling at them 'NO SNACKS'. Those of us at the front of the group must have been to far up to hear, but my friends said they had no idea what she was going on about and so ignored her, which looking back on it now was one of the funniest mistakes. A friend in front of me was carrying a bag of potato chips and as soon as we reached the monkey infested area, one launched itself at her bag. It tried to rip it out of her hands, but she kept a hold, but each time it failed it just jumped right back at her. Another monkey ran onto the scene and jumped onto the first monkey, almost seemingly grabbing it to try and make it stop, which resulted in the two monkeys having a hissing fight at one another, which was oddly a little bit scary. The first monkey started jumping again, but this time it seemed to be jumping higher towards her bag. Obviously not wanting to have any of her stuff taken, on it's final attempt to jump at her, my friend put her foot out to block it and ended up kicking the monkey away. I feel like trying to describe that moment in words just doesn't capture it, but seeing her kick the monkey (not in a way that would hurt it of course) was one of the funniest things we'd seen so far. One of the stall owners even came out with a large pole and began prodding the monkey to get it to go away (they seemed quite prepared for this moment so I feel like this happens on the regular). As we all suddenly became aware of what was happening, and as more monkeys began to turn up to see what the fuss was about and likely because more of us with snacks in hand were walking through, it turned into a scene that would have been downright hilarious to view from the outside, probably especially as a local. Picture eight Australian girls, snacks and bags in hand, all running across the streets trying to dodge monkeys, somewhat screaming and laughing and going 'OMG what is happening'. No doubt hearing us from the car park and thinking 'that has to be my girls', our driver came running down the driveway to car park he was in and began directing us to where he'd parked our bus. We all ran to the bus, scanning around frantically for monkeys, trying to pile in and praying no monkey managed to make it on board as they walked closer and closer to us. Once on the bus we all burst out laughing about what happened for a good ten minutes, and suddenly realising why that lady was yelling out 'NO SNACKS' at us. We knew we'd all made fools of ourselves and probably looked ridiculously hilarious to the locals, but that only made us laugh more. The famous quote for the rest of the trip than came from my friend who was initially bombarded by the monkeys who said 'I didn't want to kick the monkey!' Later one of my friends made a meme out of it which will forever circulate in our group.

After a hilarious morning, when we got back to the villa, the masseuses were ready and waiting for us, which made us feel super glamorous despite how hot and sticky we were. With there being enough beds for four of us to go at a time, four of us had a quick shower to clean off and headed up for the full body massages. I think the last time I had a full body massage was literally the last time I was in Bali five years ago. However, nothing can compare to getting a full body massage in your own private villa that is surrounded by the rainforest by a masseuse that has been personally brought to you. To top it all off, part way through my massage we began to hear pray music reverberate around the area; it couldn't have gotten any more picture perfect by that point, and I don't think I've ever been so relaxed in my life. After we were done, the other four had their turn, while we chilled out, swam and took some photos. Each massage was about an hour long, and by the time everyone was done, we had just enough time for another quick swim before showering and getting ready for dinner.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had people with a range of diets in our group, including vegan and gluten intolerant, which meant we had to take an extra minute when choosing a place to eat, but that extra research also meant we found some really cool and interesting places to eat. One place that my friends had heard about was Moksawhich is a plant-based, raw restaurant.

The restaurant was located sort of 'off the beaten track' as some might say; it certainly wasn't in any type of location that you would simply stumble upon. Our driver could only take us to the start of this stoned driveway, which we walked up for about five minutes before reaching it. The pay off of being located way out in the middle of nowhere meant the view we got while eating was beautiful; green crop fields with houses dotted in between. Being both a raw and vegan place meant that not only was there obviously no animal products in any of the menu items, but also nothing was actually cooked; there were a few dishes that were heated, which made for an interesting experience. I ordered the Raw Cacao Super Food Smoothie, which was basically like a healthy chocolate smoothie, so I would highly recommend it if chocolate is your thing. For a starter a few of us got the Love Bruschetta. Being raw, it wasn't on bread, but instead the base was something they called Living Crackers. It was a soft base that would fall apart as you picked it up, so eating was a little tricky. It was interesting dish, and while I think I'm going to stick to my regular type of bruschetta, I didn't hate it. For a main I had the Purple Scaloppini, which was one of the dishes that was heated. It was baked purple sweet potatoes with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, grilled vegetables and balsamic. Again I had the same feeling about this dish as I did with pretty much all the food that night. Nothing tasted bad at all, but it was all dishes that had different flavours and combinations than I was use to, so I can't say I was absolutely blown away by the food. I certainly think it's something that you would eventually get an acquired taste for, and there's no denying that we only ate super healthy that night. I would recommend people try it out because it's such a different food experience, but I don't think I'd be making multiple trips there. To top it off, for dessert I had a few scoops of what I believe was called Chocolate Coffee ice cream, at the very least that was the flavour combination I had. We sat around for a few hours and eventually called a couple of taxis and made our way home. Again we were all exhausted from the day, but we stayed up for another hour or so with our snacks, some tea served by our lovely maid staff, and just hung out.

Tomorrow would actually mark our last day in Ubud before we made our way to Seminyak. We had to be out by lunch time, so we made ourselves some plans for the next morning before jumping in to bed in our villa for the last time!

Stayed tuned for part four to find out about our first day in Seminyak, how our accommodation just kept getting better and me reliving my Bali trip from five years ago.

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