September 10, 2018 – For our last morning in Ubud, we decided to visit one of the prettiest temples in the center of town called Saraswati Temple and then experience the famous Monkey Forest. We didn’t have to leave for Seminyak until 12:00 pm, so we had a good amount of time to explore both sites.
After making sure our bags were packed, we headed out to have our only seated breakfast at the Komaneka Monkey Forest.
Breakfast was delicious and abundant. We both had way too much food, but we heard this was the norm at nice resorts in Bali. We definitely wouldn’t be going hungry.
After breakfast, we set out to find Saraswati Temple. Luckily it was close to our resort, but we did have to cross a busy road which presented a challenge.
There were no traffic lights or stop signs in Ubud. We noticed that if drivers wanted to go straight through an intersection, they would turn on their flashers and slowly move through the intersection. To turn, it was every person for themselves. They would just go and hope for the best.
Crossing a road by foot was terrifying, but luckily there weren’t too many cars out that early in the morning. We just followed the lead of several locals crossing and survived.
Since Saraswati Temple was so close to the heart of Ubud, it was usually very crowded. This was one temple tourists were not allowed to enter, but it was the grounds of the temple that pulled in crowds. Either side of the main walkway was covered in beautiful lotus flowers and lily pads. It was stunning.
We barely needed 10 minutes at Saraswati temple. When we arrived, we were the only ones there so getting the pictures we wanted was easy. By the time we left, there was a crowd forming so I would say arriving no later than 9:00 am was best for this temple.
After we left Saraswati Temple, we made the walk to the other side of town to the Sacred Monkey Forest. It was about a 15-minute walk and a nice one too since it wasn’t hot outside yet.
We arrived at the Monkey Forest around 9:30 am, paid the 50,000 IDR fee per person ($3.75), and entered the forest.
The Monkey Forest was established before the actual country of Indonesia in the 14th century. No one really knows who built the forest since there was limited documentation at that time. The Balinese philosophy behind the temple is called Tri Hita Karana which promotes harmony between humans and three things: other humans, nature, and God.
We didn’t see any monkeys at first which I thought was weird. I thought they would be everywhere as soon as we entered.
Once we got to one of the main areas with paths leading in several different directions we started to see a few monkeys. There was even a momma with her baby!
I wanted to get close to the monkeys but everything I read about prior to our trip held me back. From what I heard, these monkeys were friendly in the sense that they wanted to figure out what they could easily steal from us.
There are over 600 monkeys living in the forest. It’s not just a tourist attraction. There’s abundant research and conservation efforts done within the forest. Most of the research done with the monkeys focuses on their behavior and social interactions.
There was no plan for our visit to the forest so we just took the first path we saw and followed it.
As we were walking across a bridge, a man passing us said to watch out for the monkey sitting on the ledge. Apparently, he was not friendly. I was getting more nervous by the minute while we were in there. I was so scared a monkey was going to come out of nowhere and attack me.
We made it across the bridge and kept wandering. The structures within the forest were very beautiful. There were three active temple areas within the forest, but they were for practicing Hindu’s only.
As we meandered through the paths of the forest we would see monkeys here and there. But it wasn’t until we reached a sitting area styled like a stadium that we fully experienced what I had heard prior to visiting the forest.
We quickly learned that if we sat down, monkeys would jump on us. So we didn’t sit. But we did watch several other people get “attacked” by the monkeys. However, no one ever got hurt. It was mostly the monkeys just being curious and hoping to find food.
At one point while we were walking, a girl got her camera bag stolen. The last we saw of that monkey was him sitting in a tree gnawing on one of her SD cards. Poor gal.
Things we learned:
- …Sit anywhere that monkeys are present
- …Open any bags while in the forest (it just screams “steal my stuff”)
- …Bring ANY food in even if it’s sealed up tight in a bag. We watched a monkey jump on a guy’s back, open his backpack, and steal a banana right out. How that monkey knew there was a banana in his bag I will never know.
Our time at the Monkey Forest lasted less than an hour. It was interesting to walk through and see the monkeys interacting with each other and humans, but a bit nerve-wracking too. I felt like I had to watch my back every second we were in there.
After the Monkey Forest, we slowly made our way back to the hotel to gather our things.
At 12:00 pm on the dot, Margon was there ready to drive us to Seminyak. Once we checked out of The Komaneka at Monkey Forest, we were given a cute gift and watched the lovely staff wave goodbye as we drove off. Although short, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
Here’s where my mistakes in planning our time on Bali started to show.
I had heard the traffic on Bali was a nightmare, but we live in Atlanta. Whenever someone tells me they have bad traffic I automatically think of our horrendous traffic and dial it back a few notches. I’ve never experienced worse traffic than Atlanta rush hour.
…That is until I went to Bali.
Balinese traffic was so insanely bad I am planning on writing an entire post on it so you don’t make the same planning mistakes I did.
So you can fully understand what I mean I’ll give you the facts. The drive from our resort in Ubud to our resort in Seminyak was 19 miles (30 km). Which meant that if we went at an average modest speed of 30 mph we would arrive at the resort in about 45 minutes.
Reality: It took 2.5 hours. We didn’t reach our resort until 2:30 pm. This is 100% fact based on the timestamps on my photos. 2.5 HOURS!
So why is the traffic so bad? I won’t get too far into this now but based on what I witnessed there are a ridiculous number of vehicles on the island of Bali and mostly two-lane roads. Also, the Chinese have brought in massive tour buses to shuttle their people around the island which was crazy to see because they do not fit on most of the roads. Combine that with hardly any traffic signals and it’s basically a giant disaster.
I practically jumped out of the car once we reached The Amala, our resort in Seminyak. I was so ready to get settled and explore Seminyak.
We were greeted by several staff members and quickly brought to the check-in area. This resort was much smaller than The Komaneka, but it was so beautiful.
Our villa wasn’t quite ready so we were brought to the library to wait. The library was basically a glass room with a bookshelf and some comfy chairs. There was also a desk for someone that might need to work during their stay. The view was of the pool so it made for a beautiful spot to relax.
Once our villa was ready, our concierge walked us in and gave us a tour.
I don’t know how I can explain my initial reaction to our villa better than to say my jaw was on the floor. This was the most gorgeous place I’ve ever stayed in. The villa was completely beyond my expectations and we weren’t even staying in the best one!
I could sit here and explain the villa to you, but I’ll let myself give you a virtual tour instead. If you can’t watch the video (or just can’t stand my poor narration) there’s a photo gallery below.
After we got over our initial shock, we got ourselves organized and settled into our home for the next three days.
One of the many incredible things that came with our stay at The Amala was a one-hour spa treatment per person per day. I know what you’re thinking, was this place heaven? Yes, it was.
Our very first treatment would be a facial that afternoon. We were able to hang out in our villa for about an hour and then it was spa time.
Like I said before, The Amala was not a big resort. In fact, it seemed like there were more staff members than guests while we were there. It was amazing and we were given so much attention. Everyone knew our names within the first 3 hours of us being there.
Around 4:00 pm we headed to the spa which was just a short walk away from our villa. We were greeted and quickly taken to our spa room.
Each spa treatment at The Amala started with a foot cleansing (just like we experienced in Siem Reap and Chiang Mai). However, this foot cleansing was done in a bowl of hot water filled with fragrant flower petals. They also used an amazing foot scrub in addition to the cleansing. While we had our feet washed, we were given fresh green juice which tasted amazing.
This was easily the best facial I’ve ever received. Not only was my skin glowing afterward, but I was so relaxed. I felt like I was on a cloud.
Once our facials were done, we were given some of the best ginger and lemongrass tea I’ve ever tasted and told to relax in their open-air eating area which was just outside of the spa. The entire resort was open-air so everything was connected.
It was close to sunset time so we quickly got ready and headed out to the beach. Our resort had a driver on hand to shuttle guests to the beach so we asked our concierge about this before walking. Luckily another couple was just about to leave so we hopped in the shuttle with them.
The beach was packed but we didn’t care. It was our first time seeing the world famous beach and it was beautiful. We decided earlier that we would go to a beach-front restaurant called Blue 9 Bali. Since it was a last minute decision, we didn’t make reservations. So it was a total gamble if they would have room for us.
As we approached the restaurant from the beach we noticed it was packed. But we decided to still try it because every restaurant was packed. We walked in and couldn’t find anyone to help us. It seemed like forever until someone finally just told us to sit wherever we could find an open spot.
Just at that moment, a couple sitting in the very front facing the beach got up from their seats. Score! Not only did we get to sit immediately but we got one of the best seats in the whole restaurant.
The seats were basically giant bean bags with a small table situated in front. As soon as we sat down, a waiter brought us menus.
We didn’t want to go too crazy since we had to wake up really early the next morning for our hike to Mount Batur so Eric just got a beer and I got one of their specialty drinks called a blue coconut.
We ordered a few small plates to share and just enjoyed watching the sunset.
After dinner, we decided to walk back to our resort rather than take a cab. The walk wasn’t too bad but it was really dark.
It was only 9:00 pm but for our Mount Batur hike we would have to be ready to go at 1:15 am. Not a typo: 1:15 am. So we made sure our daypack was ready to go and forced ourselves to sleep early.
Continue reading the travel diary here: Day 15: Hiking Mount Batur at Sunrise
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