We left Nusa Lembongan at 8am and caught a ferry to Sanur. From there, our pre-organised taxi driver (courtesy of our Lembongan hostel) met us and drove us to Ubud. It only took about 1.5 hours, so we were there by mid-morning. Our Air BnB was lovely, and our host organised for us to be picked up almost immediately and taken on a tour. We went to a number of spots across the course of the day, and our driver Gede would just wait for us at each spot.
First we went to the Tegallang rice fields in Gianyar. This would have to be one of the most photographed sights of Bali, and it was easy to see why. Loads of people (unsurprisingly) but still worth the trip. We actually ate lunch at a wee restaurant overlooking the fields, and it was such a beautiful setting for a meal. It was a really nice way to appreciate the fields from afar, because there is not much else to do there besides walk around the fields (and then you are right up close so you actually almost lose perspective). After lunch we headed down into the terraces; it was extremely hot and I was very glad for my water-bottle. We probably spent about 45 minutes walking around and taking plenty of photos.
From here we headed to Tirta Empul Tampaksiring, a temple where people go to bathe and be cleansed in the holy water. The queues were massive, and to be honest the water looked pretty grotty (especially when filled with so many bodies) so none of us were keen to get in. We ended up walking around for a bit and then moving on. Leaving the temple actually required walking through so much market space, where the vendors were all highly competitive and almost confrontational. I think we all actually ended up buying something – probably mainly to shut them up! It was definitely fun though, and provides for an interesting experience.
From here we went to Mount Kawi. This was a temple with a lot of steps. We noted that both temples we had visited had made all four of us (i.e. the boys included) cover up our shoulders (they lend scarves). We set off down the steps (sooooo many steps) into a wee temple valley, where there were lots of temples (slash remains) surrounded by pretty dense bush. It was rather beautiful. The hike back up the hill was much harder, and we were very relieved to see a sign for ice-cream as we approached the top.
The last stop of our tour was Monkey Forest. It was such a cool experience, and that’s coming from someone who is extremely hesitant about monkeys. It is quite a big park in which you can just wander around and watch the monkeys play. You can also buy food to feed them (they will happily climb all over you) but I was much happier watching from afar. They can get pretty aggressive – I would definitely recommend leaving your valuables in the car (sunglasses being a classic example of things they love to pinch).
Ubud was certainly the most cultural feeling place we went to. There are some very cool markets and shopping generally. There are loads of places offering massages, and The Yoga Barn is certainly famed for its yoga and all round zen habitat. I think that of all our destinations in Bali I thought Ubud was the most interesting and had the most to do (with the obvious omission of no beach). The food was also extremely delicious (check out that post here).