On a warm and rainy Wednesday morning, we arrived in Denpasar, Bali. This was our first real visit in southeast Asia and we were beyond excited to finally get to see this part of the world. It had been on our bucket list for so long, for several reasons including 1) the Bali vibe, 2) amazing nature and wildlife, and 3) incredible food. We traveled during the rainy season, but since it’s incredibly warm in Indonesia all year-round we figured that we could stand a rain shower here and there.
After getting our bags and passing the security checks at the airport, we found our taxi driver, who would take us to our hotel in Sanur. We sat down in a very old car, which was missing some parts, like the left front light, and smelt of cigarette smoke. Our driver asked us a lot of questions about Sweden, and he told us about some places we had to visit during our stay in Bali. During the drive from Denpasar to Sanur, we got to see a lot of the tropical greens and we also learned that the traffic situation is completely different than in Sweden. In the back seat of that old car, we thanked ourselves for not renting a car this time.
We arrived in Sanur and our hotel Puri Santrian pretty early in the morning. Since we had slept on the plane, we had pretty much already adjusted to the time difference. We unpacked our stuff, changed clothes and then we decided to get something to eat. We had already decided to go to Peloton Supershop in Canggu during our stay and we thought, why not do it right away? So we got our hands on a cab, which is not difficult by the way, and we were on our way to Canggu. It took us almost an hour to get there (once again, traffic), but we had a lot of time to see the surroundings, the small villages, and the rice terraces. We also had a great opportunity to get to know our taxi driver, Oke, which we of course did. Oke told us so much about Bali and after only a couple of hours in Indonesia, we were sure that the Indonesian people were the most friendly people on earth.
We arrived in Canggu and found our way to Peloton Supershop. By the time we entered the restaurant, we were starving. I had ordered raw vegetarian food on the plane (the only way to get gluten-free and vegan food) and it was the biggest disappointment ever. A typical meal looked like this: eight 5 cm long celery stalks, four cherry tomatoes, five cucumber slices, six slices of yellow pepper and one lettuce leaf. That was it. So, after almost 24 hours of traveling, you can probably understand why we were starving. When we walked through that door at Peloton Supershop, it felt sort of unreal. We had talked about this vegan place for so long and finally seeing it in real life was so weird…and absolutely amazing. And when we got the food, we instantly agreed that it was worth the one hour drive to get there ;) Since we were super hungry, we decided to order three dishes and share one of them. Kalle got a charcoal burger and I got the pulled jackfruit nachos. We also shared a big salad bowl with lots and lots of greens and vegetables, some rice, and tempeh. We also got a green juice on the side. I realize now how hungry we must have been because that is a LOT of food, haha. But we ate it all and it felt so good to refuel our bodies with a ton of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Then we had Oke driving us back to the hotel and before we left the car we had hired him for the next day when he was going take us to some of the places we wanted to visit. The rest of our first day was chill, we explored our resort, the beach and went to the supermarket to get some water.
The next day we woke up pretty early and went down to the hotel restaurant to get some breakfast. There was an entire table with fresh fruit - pineapple, dragon fruit, pomelo, papaya, and tiny bananas. And fresh juices! Such a dream! After breakfast, we got ready to meet up with Oke and begin our trip around the island. First stop was Tegallalang and the rice terraces. We wanted to go there pretty early in the morning to avoid the tourist buses, which were supposed to be arriving around 10 am. We passed through small villages, jungles and we were once again shocked (more or less) by the traffic situation. About an hour later we were in Ubud and from there it was about 30 minutes to Tegallalang. Around 8.30 am we stepped out of the car, crossed the road and started exploring the amazing rice terraces. The lush greens and the jungle on the horizon - it was so beautiful. And we were alone there so we could take all the photos we wanted and not have to worry about falling into the mud because of other tourists passing by on the super narrow paths. It was an amazing experience!
About an hour later we were dripping in sweat (hello 30 °C and 80 % humidity) and more than ready to get back in the air-conditioned car. Next stop was an elephant sanctuary, where we would hang out with Sumatran elephants that had been rescued from training camps. These elephants had been tortured and been through a lot of pain before they were rescued. You know that the elephants are tortured in order to learn how to behave near humans, and to accept that people are riding on them, right? That’s why you should never, ever ride on elephants when you’re traveling. And that’s why we went to a sanctuary to see them and feed and pet them. Elephants are my favorite animals, they’re so intelligent and so, so beautiful. It was really a dream coming true to see them, and when one of the younger elephant ladies gave me a hug with her trunk, I almost started to cry.
After feeding and petting the amazing elephants for a couple of hours, it was time to head on. Next stop was the monkey forest in Ubud. By the time we got there, it had started to rain. And those monsoon rains are real, let me just say that. Our umbrellas started to leak water and when that happens, you know it’s raining A LOT. But as soon as we entered the forest we saw a couple of monkeys and the rain immediately stopped bothering us. We walked around for a while and there were monkeys everywhere. I took like 150 photos in about 20 minutes :P It was just so cool! We found a banana stand and bought a bunch of bananas to feed to the monkeys. They came in like 2 seconds and if you held a banana above your shoulder, a monkey (or two) immediately climbed up your back and sat down on your shoulder (or head) to eat it. You know, feeling that monkey fur on your neck and to see how those tiny hands peeled a banana was just incredible. I have this beautiful photo of a monkey sitting on Kalle’s arm (see below) and the way he looks at Kalle is so adorable, don’t you think? Like, ”I’m gonna let go of your arm and peel this banana, promise you won’t move, ok?”. I just love it <3 After about an hour in the forest we were soaking wet from all the rain, but we met up with Oke with the biggest smiles on our faces because this day was just too good to be true. After the monkey forest, we were ready to go back to the resort, but Oke wanted to show us some of his favorite spots and since they were all on the way, we thought what the heck and decided to go for it. After a quick lunch at Veggie Karma in Ubud, we continued our trip.
First, Oke taught us about how different regions have different specialties. Like, in one region it’s a lot of wooden handicrafts, in another region it’s gold/silversmiths, in yet another it’s stone carving. From blocks of limestone, the artists create amazing sculptures and statures. The statues are found everywhere, in temples (which are everywhere), on the side of the road, in gardens and in people’s homes. It’s really amazing what they can create from just a stone block and when Oke drove us through one of the stone carving regions we got to see so many beautiful statues.
The next stop was an art gallery in a place I don’t remember the name of. The place was huge and it was a lot of amazing paintings, some of which looked exactly like photographs. I’m not that much into art, but it was very nice anyway. The next stop was a silversmith, where the owner showed us the process of preparing the silver and then how they worked to create some really amazing pieces of jewelry. And once again, we were stunned by the friendliness of this people.
The last stop was a coffee plantation in the middle of the jungle. A middle-aged man, whose name I couldn’t spell right even if got a hundred chances, showed us the coffee plants, the beans and talked about different types of coffee. We also got to see how cacao beans, turmeric, and ginger are grown, which was all very interesting. He also talked about a special Indonesian coffee, called Luwak coffee. This is the most expensive coffee in the entire world and we had never heard of it before. If we had, we would never have gone to the coffee plantation in the first place. The Luwak coffee is produced from poo (yes, poo) from the civet cat, an animal that eats coffee cherries, whereafter the beans undergo a fermentation process in the digestive tract of the animal. However, the beans aren’t really digested, just sort of altered, and then they leave the animal with the feces. The beans are then collected (disgusting, I know), roasted over an open fire and then used to prepare coffee - Luwak coffee. The civet cats are kept in cages and if we had known this beforehand, we wouldn’t have gone there at all. But we were there and there weren’t much we could do about it.
The guided tour ended with a coffee and tea tasting. We were served 15 different types of coffee and herbal teas, including the Luwak coffee, arabica coffee, ginseng tea, vanilla coffee, hot chocolate, rose petal tea, coconut coffee and many more. All of course made with ingredients from the plantation. Even though I’m not supporting the industry of the Luwak coffee, the coffee did taste very good. It was very smooth and rich and didn’t have that bitter taste of traditional coffee. All in all, it was an interesting experience, and it was nice to visit a coffee plantation in real life. But of course we didn’t buy any Luwak coffee beans (or any other beans) to bring back home, and we wouldn’t visit it again. Just making that clear :P
After this stop, it was time to head back to the hotel. We were pretty tired after this long day, but boy, were we happy and excited. After showering and changing clothes, we had some vegan sushi at the hotel before we went to bed, more or less exhausted.
On day three, the sun was shining when we woke up and glanced out the window. Since the two first days had been very rainy we thought that it would be perfect to spend the day by the pool, reading books, swimming and getting as much sun as possible. It was so nice, and so well needed to just relax and do nothing. When it was time for lunch, we decided to walk about 500 m to this healthy café that we had stumbled upon on Google maps. They were supposed to have a lot of vegan and gluten-free options so we decided to check them out. It was only a 5-minute walk on the beach and then we found Genius café, located on the beach. It looked amazing so we kept our fingers crossed that the food would be too. And it was amazing, I can tell you that. It was so good we came back for lunch and dinner every day for the rest of the trip 😳 We tried every smoothie and almost every vegan dish on the menu + some of the icecreams and desserts too. Oops!
Since the weather was very nice the remaining days, we decided to stay in Sanur and explore the area around our hotel. Plus, we wanted to enjoy the amazing food at Genius Café so we couldn’t really leave :P No, I’m just kidding. But we had already seen the places we wanted and we felt like we needed to relax, chill by the pool and just wind down. After all, that’s what vacations are for. So we spent the days at the pool and only left the hotel to explore the surroundings and to have lunch and dinner at the café. It was so well needed and we really got to feel those Bali vibes. I just love to adjust to the local life and go with the flow so to speak. You create your own routines and your own life, even if it’s just for a short period of time. We got to create our own Bali life and I loved every minute of it. I could easily have stayed for another couple of weeks, but who says you can’t go back?