Updated: Jul 3
Having heard many stories of this exotic island through the years, we decided to make Bali our first destination out of the USA. Bali is the only Hindu-majority province in Indonesia, and the local population embraces the arts and welcomes tourists. The island is famous for beautiful temples, Hindu ceremonies and wood carvings, two active volcanoes as well as beaches and water sports.
We arrived at the airport in Denpasar about 9 pm after a very long flight from Honolulu to Sydney, a short layover and a final 5 hour flight to Bali. Our host Ketut kindly picked us up and drove us to his guest house, Ubud Ku, through a madhouse of traffic. We immediately collapsed into a luxurious bed after being up over 27 hours!
Ubud Ku is a wonderful guest house that is really a small compound with several buildings including the hosts residence, guest rooms, temple & kitchen. There is an abundance of tropical flora, koi pond & fountain. Ketut & wife Novika are "superhosts" with Airbnb and certainly deserve the title with their warmth, kindness and helpful attitude. The area is very quiet during the night even though the main road is only a few blocks away.
This part of Ubud is very busy, and more so right now with school out for several holiday celebrations. Traffic runs on the left side of the road, with many scooters constantly weaving in and out of the autos and vans, cutting across sidewalks and walkways. Pedestrians need to be ever vigilant, but miraculously I have not seen a single accident. There are many nationalities here, with locals, Asians, Aussies & Europeans far out-numbering the few Americans.
The streets in Ubud are lined with shops selling clothes, SIM cards, excursions, tattoos & snacks. Every other biz is a café, restaurant or gelato shop, with money changers here & there. Men are sitting everywhere hawking taxi services. We had a delicious meal yesterday of fresh tuna & rice, and veggie tempura, with fruit juice: $10.50 USD!
Today we walked many miles around town, with a first stop at a Telkomsel office to try and sort the SIM cards we bought yesterday. They worked immediately in our iPhones for Internet access but discovered later we could not text or call. That apparently requires purchasing a separate plan and still is not clear about iMessage & Facetime. Susie has a newer iPhone with dual SIM capability but no one knows how to utilize this new capability. Makes my head hurt thinking about it.
We walked on to the west down busy Jalal Raya Ubud, stopping to view the majestic Ubud Palace. The carvings, statues and detail are truly magnificent. There was not much information displayed but they did advertise a performance at 7pm tonight. I will have to look up the history some time. Next up was finding a bathroom and we found a Starbucks in a short while using a cools app called maps.me. Behind the café was the Ubud Water Palace, with walkways around two large ponds and a temple behind there. A ceremony was just beginning but all attendees needed proper dress, so I will need to pick up a sarong some time soon.
Continuing westward we came to the Campuhan Ridge Walk, which is arguably the best known Ubud trek. The trail starts at the historical origin of Ubud, the confluence (or Campuhan) of the Wos Rivers. Around 3 miles round trip, the trail (really more of a path) winds along a ridge with views of small valleys on either side, containing jungle, fields or housing. There was a steady stream of people of all ages walking both directions.
Feeling pretty exhausted by now it seemed like a perfect time for some pizza, so back to the maps app and Presto! sitting back having some delicious pie & watching the world go by.