Monday, September 22, 2008

The Cultural Capital of Bali: Ubud - Part 3

Day 6: Temples on islands, lakes and waterfalls, and babi guling

We began the day with a stop at Pura Taman Ayun. With a "moat" all the way around its outer walls followed by a smaller "moat" inside the temple, it seemed more like a medieval castle than an ancient Hindu temple. With it's large, thatched roof temples, it made for a nice photo, but the origin and meaning of the temple remain a mystery to us and apparently the driver as well. The next stop was the main reason we wanted to make the trip to the lake country of Bali, the stunning temple of Ulun Danu Bratan. The Hindu/Buddist (important to both religions) was founded in the 17th century and the two temples themselves are built on two tiny islands in the lake. With the mountains in the background, it makes for a stunning view. While we were there, their was a Buddist procession complete with music and flags waving. After admiring the temple and the well landscaped surroundings, we headed further up the mountain and made our way to the waterfalls of Gitgit. Quite touristy, the short walk down to the main waterfall is lined with souvenir shops selling anything from bathing suits to sarongs (no shop is complete without sarongs ANYWHERE in Bali). Cascading off the cliff from a height of 120 feet, the single fall was nice, but we found the better falls to be the twin falls down the road. The twin falls were much shorter, only about 25-30 feet, but the water here was much more impressive and the swimming spot was a lot nicer than the other fall, albeit just as cold so we didn't swim, but Putu had a nice swim. The only unfortunate part is that you have to hire a completely useless "guide" (36,000rp) that leads you down the well signed, concrete path to the bottom. After the quick dip, we started to make our way back to Ubud with a stop at one of the markets. It was a huge, sprawling market, but quite touristy and the prices were extortionate so we bargained hard to get a few peanuts and some fruit to take on the road. After the market, we hit up a roadside warung on the way back serving up babi guling, or suckling pig. If Bali has a "national" dish, this is it. The warung only serves this one dish and with it comes a plate of rice along with greens, pork crackling (skin), both sliced and chopped pork, served with sambal (local version of chilli sauce). While it was tasty in its own right, we both agree that it doesn't hold a candle to the pork barbeque you get in North Carolina, and we sure could have used a little of Dad's sauce to spice it up. After our late lunch, we returned to Ubud, relaxed our our porch for one last night, ate at Roda's one last time, and called it an early night.

Day 7: To Amed we go, stopping by Gunung Batur and Tirta Gangga

We had one last delicious breakfast of banana pancakes and waved goodbye to the lovely people at Hibuscus and were off to Amed, the name for a group of villages on the East Coast of Bali. In route we stopped at for a wonderful view of the rice terraces, seemingly filling every hill in the lush central part of Bali. After snapping a few photos and messing with the local children selling postcards (it was a holiday from school that day) we made our way to a little roadside stand where you can sample some of the local produce. Bali has a very diverse variety of produce. In the same plot of land they grow, mangosteens, mangos, vanilla, cinnamon, coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, palm fruit, papaya, and tons of other spices. After sampling the coffee, tea and hot chocolate we hit the road again headed for Danau Batur, the lake named after the adjacent mountain of Batur. Not more than an hours drive from the fruit stand, the soil becomes volcanic and the lush valleys and hillsides are replaced with an arid and barren landscape. The area is best known for growing vegetables like onions, chilli's, and garlic. We stopped at the lake side for a little while, but other than seeing the little fishing village, which consists of fish farms mostly, it's not really worth the time. We stopped for lunch at another warung, this time selling goat satay. I enjoyed the goat myself and would not mind it again, but Tracy didn't care for it, particularly the soup, which I must admit didn't do much for me either. After a long three hour drive leaving behind the arid volcano landscape, through dense jungles, we arrived at the Water temple of Tirta Gangga. With water effects everywhere and beautifully landscaped grounds, the water temple was quite impressive. It even has two swimming pools, and looks like they were in the process of adding a stage for traditional dances as well.

We arrived in Amed and settled on our little hotel by the sea, Good Karma. We figured with a name like that, how can you go wrong!

To see more pictures from Ubud please click here!

1 comment:

Diane & David said...

Jason--Hope you have a great birthday on Friday!