Bali, the images the island conjures are that of almost naked bodies clad in the skimpiest bikinis; tanning lotion; surfboards; and temples. Bali, the island of the gods has so much to offer us mere mortals.
If the gods are to be pleased with Bali, mere mortals like us will be in a state of euphoria with its verdant greens; perfectly timed drum beats; smells of incense floating in the air; landscaped rice fields; and temples erected in some of the most beautiful and unusual places that you will think somehow divine powers were at the helm of their creation. Bali is a cornucopia of all your desires, ever giving, ever flowing and ever so gorgeous.
I have put off Bali for quite some time because I have been to Indonesia’s other islands and I thought that Bali would be an exact copy of them. Boy, was I so wrong!
The island transports you and transforms you. It will bring you closer to the divine; to nature; and to real beauty.
My Bali Day 1 Itinerary
- Batik factory
- Batuan Temple
- Gora Gajah
- Ubud Monkey Forest
- Padang Padang Beach
Having lived in Singapore for the past 3 years, where you can conveniently go from one location to another, I did not expect Bali to be so big and the tourist spots to be so far away from one another that at one time we spent two hours in the van, traveling. Blame it on hectic days in the office, I didn’t even have time to look at a map.
Batik making in Bali is a relatively new industry compared to other parts of the country and the globe, but it is quickly catching up. Most patterns seen in Balinese batik are objects from nature such as flowers and animals. Having come from the Philippines, I really was not that impressed with the batik. Call me haughty but honestly I have seen better patterns in my home country, and even Yogyakarta.
The next stop after the batik factory, where I bought absolutely nothing, was the Batuan Temple. It is one of the minor temples in the island. It was relatively quiet as it is not sought by foreigners. We were able to take a few decent pictures and even a few funny pictures. Fortunately, the gods did not strike us with lighting for having offended the holy site.
After Batuan Temple, it was back in the car for us for the drive to Goa Gajah. The reviews for Goa Gajah were quite ok so I added it to our list of must-see places. However, it turned out to be unimpressive. Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave is located in Ubud. It was built in the 9th century and served as a sanctuary. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1995, the main attraction is the cave with a façade full of reliefs of numerous frightening creatures and demons. There is also an extensive bathing site near the temple. Other than that, there was nothing else worth mentioning.
Ubud Monkey Forest
Ubud Monkey Forest is a vast expanse of greens and playful monkeys. It is a nature reserve which hosts more than 10,000 tourists a month. It has more than a hundred species of trees and more than 600 crab-eating and mischievous macaques. Dogs are not allowed in the nature reserve as they might frighten the monkeys. Although the day was uneventful, save for that little monkey who was always bullied by the bigger monkeys, we were warned before entering the grounds to be careful with our phones and jewelry as the macaques might try to steal them.
Padang Padang Beach
Next stop was Padang Padang Beach, a haven for surfers. Having come from a country made up of more than 7000 islands; a country with the most beautiful beach in the world and the world’s top island, I have quite high expectations when it comes to beaches. Padang Padang was unimpressive for me. However, Caucasian tourists, a huge fraction of them Australians, would surely disagree with me as they just seem to looooove Padang Padang. They littered the shore with their tiny bikinis and surfboards. They seemed to have the time of their lives riding the waves and seemed to throw caution to the wind chasing adrenaline and adventure.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
The last spot for the day, and in my opinion the highlight, was Pura Luhur Uluwatu. Also known as the Balinese sea temple, it was built in the 11th century and is one of the nine directional temples in Bali which protect the island from evil spirits. The cliff is just impressive; it looks like one of the fjords of Norway. (No, I have not been to Norway. I just saw pictures on a travel book but I plan to go there in this lifetime.) Overlooking the Indian Ocean, it is precipitously placed on the edge of the cliff and it makes for the perfect dramatic background to the epic Ramayana which is a stunning spectacle to watch at sunset.
I have to say that Bali awakened my senses on our first day and we ended the night with tired feet, ready to take more steps in discovering the island.
I was a bit disappointed though because Ketut was nowhere in sight.