It was just as well that we had set our alarm for 7.00 a.m. as we once again received a knock on the door with our morning newspaper. After enjoying a large breakfast we returned to our room for our cameras, sunglasses and bottles of water then went down to the foyer to wait for our driver to collect us. It was a good sign as he arrived promptly at 9.00 a.m. and before setting off we sat down with him for a few minutes discussing our plans for the day which he was happy with.
We had looked into the possibility of taking a coach or mini-bus tour around the island as public transport is virtually non-existent. Astonishingly, it was actually cheaper to hire a car and driver as day tours cost IDR 750,000 (£42.30) each whilst our private driver booked through the hotel was only IDR 800,000 (£45) for up to three passengers.
I suggest researching places you wish to visit in advance and coming up with a suggested itinerary of things you would like to see and do. We mentioned to him that if there was any spare time we would be open to his suggestions and explained that we weren’t interested in themed activities such as the Bird Park, Monkey Forest or Dance Show. Our taxi was large, comfortable with air-conditioning and spotlessly clean and as we settled into our back seats we were soon on our way to the first port of call, the Batuan Hindu Temple, entrance fee IDR 15,000 (85p) which is located along the road between Denpasar and Ubud.
After we both put on a sarong from the kiosk in the car park we crossed the road to view the 1,000 year old temple. The grounds are filled with Balinese sculptures and ornate stone ornaments so we enjoyed wandering around under the shade of some large trees exploring the main building which has a wonderful pitched roof constructed from palm tree fibre.
Our next stop was nearby and this was to visit Tegenungan Waterfall. Our driver managed to find a parking place above the waterfall and we then purchased entrance tickets IDR 20,000 (£1.13) each.
The steep path down to the waterfall was well maintained with flights of steps in places. Along the way we came across numerous viewpoints where we paused to take photographs and upon reaching the foot of the waterfall we could see numerous people swimming in the pool beneath it.
The waterfall cascades 20 metres (66 feet) over stone cliffs and is definitely worth visiting.
Returning to the car park we passed numerous stalls offering snacks and souvenirs but as we didn’t need anything we got back into the taxi and headed to our next destination, the Satria coffee plantation.
Parking was just outside and although we needed to wear wristbands, entrance was free of charge including a short guided tour where we were shown arabica trees, cinnamon and cocoa growing in the plantation.
There were splendid views across the lush green coffee terraces and a pleasant cafe where sample trays of coffee varieties could be purchased.
Although tempting, we were already feeling quite hot so we resisted the temptation and just stuck to our water which we sipped as we strolled along the paths of the terraced hillside. Do take care as the paths are in a poor condition but passable with care. Huge jungle swings seem to be gaining popularity and we could hear terrified screams in the distance as the ropes swayed high above the coffee terraces.
Back in the taxi, our next stop was also close at hand, this time to view the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. It seemed much busier here and we had to walk from a car park further up the road. Entrance to the Rice Terraces is IDR 10,000 (56p) and a visit here was one of the highlights of the day.
There were some very steep steps leading down and footpaths treacherous in places with loose gravel and uneven stones even though it was dry. Sensible footwear is definitely required and my trusty walking sandals held me firm and prevented me toppling over.
It was midday and as the temperature had risen to 35 degrees we needed to stop a few times on the way back up. Along the busy main road near the car parks were numerous stalls, shops and cafes so we bought some more chilled water to keep us going awhile.
It was then a much longer drive to Mt. Batur, a volcano in the highlands of Kintamani. It’s one of the region’s most active volcanos rising 1,717 m (5,633 ft) above sea level. Like everything else in Bali there is a fee and for anyone who isn’t local one has to pay IDR 30,000 (£1.69) per person and IDR 5,000 (28p) for the car to be able to access the viewpoint road so ensure you have plenty of cash to cover all these unexpected little extras.
The views were stunning and it was well worth our £3.66 outlay. Our driver parked in front of a lovely buffet restaurant which had a rooftop terrace with the most stunning of views.
The air was slightly cooler here and we enjoyed a pleasant stroll along the ridge overlooking the north side of the volcano and the large caldera lake to its east.
After leaving there, we made our way back towards Ubud, taking a break at the Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave). Entrance to the temple is IDR 5,000 (85p). This temple is characterised by menacing faces that have been carved out of stone. The main figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname for the cave.
Touring the complex, is unusual as it contains both Hindu and Buddhist imagery. It was rediscovered by Dutch archaeologists in 1923 although it was not until 1954 that its fountains and bathing pool were unearthed.
Surrounding the temple were a few vendors huts selling sarongs, souvenirs and snacks but just outside the gates we found a gorgeous small cafe in a tranquil setting where we enjoyed some delicious rice pancakes topped with coconut brown sugar. These were very reasonably priced and preferable to anything on offer in the actual temple complex.
What an interesting day we were having and it wasn’t quite over yet as there was still time for us to visit the centre of Ubud. Our driver dropped us off outside the Royal Palace and arranged a later time to pick us up from the same place as it was impossible for him to find somewhere nearby to park.
We were pleasantly surprised that there was no charge to walk through the charming garden setting of the Ubud Royal Palace and it was a joy to view the well preserved Balinese architecture. Each evening traditional dance performances take place in this beautiful setting.
Our stroll continued through the very busy streets and into the vast market which we’d read about. The narrow passageways between the stalls were crowded with people and it was difficult to move along. Eventually, we worked our way through several parts of the market but there was nothing that caught our attention and we were glad to return outside and explore other parts of the town centre.
I quite liked Ubud and felt that it had a more sophisticated feel to it than the resorts stretching along the coast but it was equally busy. At 5.00 p.m. prompt, our driver Tom, pulled up and returned us to our hotel at 6.30 p.m.
It would have been impossible to have seen so much of the island in one day by ourselves and I would recommend a private driver over a guided tour as we were able to customise our itinerary and spend as long as we wished in each location. Tom didn’t speak much but was always polite, confirming the next place to visit before setting off and he even enquired if we wished to be taken anywhere near the hotel at the end of the day as we had booked his services until 7.00 p.m. We didn’t want to go anywhere else but it was thoughtful of him to ask.
After such a hectic day we were quite tired by the time we got back so we didn’t go out to eat until late, having just a short walk and finding a small, inviting restaurant not very far away.
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