Feb 19, 2010, 5:17 AM
Hi all, I just thought I would share some of my recent Bali experiences.
After doing some research and finding many things to do myself and my girlfriend decided we must have a day around Ubud.
I contacted a driver, Sila Nyoman, who had come highly reccomended from my readings of this site, and it was all organised.
Sila arrived right on time at out hotel. We told him that we had a cooking class at 10am, but we would like to see something along the way so as to not arrive early.
We were taken to a traditional Balinese family compound. It was actually really interesting and completely different to how we live in Australia. Interacting with the various pigs, cocks and porcupines around the place was great fun. Sila told us all kinds of things about the compound as we walked around. This was a surprisingly enjoyable bonus activity.
Next we had a Balinese cooking class at the 'Laka leke' restaurant. This place has some amazing scenery, it is really beautiful. The class itself was fun and interactive, and we got to take some recipes home which I will be happy to be eating since the food was delicious.
Just behind the restaurant is the Monkey Forrest. This place can really be a lot of fun. Hundreds of monkeys roaming around a beautiful tropical forrest. You can feed them and watch them go about their monkey business. However, do not bear your teeth (smile), look them in the eyes, and try to give them a rock when everyone else gives them bananas, or you will be attacked and chased 200m down a path. I found this out the hard way. Great fun.
We then found Sila in the monkey forest car park and proceeded to our next destination - Ubud Markets and Palace. Sila told us that these are some of the most expensice markets, yet we were able to pick up a couple of things for a good price. Much more fruit, paintings, art, carvings etc here than at the Kuta or :egian markets. The palace accross the road provided us with some nice photo's.
Next we drove over to 'Goa Gajah' or Elephant cave. Before entering Sila quietly warned us to ignore any of the people down there who try to be nice to us and offer to show us around. This was good of him and was excellent advice, since many people did do just that. The cave itself is not extremely exciting, but the surroundings are great. There are fountains and really beautiful jungle and paths to explore. You could spend ages here.
Finally, we visited the Bali bird and reptile park. This place has a huge variety of birds both caged and out in the open. You can have birds climb on your arms, head and shoulders, which provides some nice photo opportunities. Sometimes if you get a little too close, you will be pecked. Again I found this out the hard way. The reptile park is just behind the bird park, and has everything you would expect, crocodiles, iguana's, turtles, komodo dragons. You can touch and pick some up, which again is great for photos.
That concluded a very busy and enjoyable day. Hope this helps anyone looking to go to/around Ubud.
Finally I must highly recommend, as many have done before me, our driver Sila. His English is up with the best I have heard from a local in Bali, he is friendly, comfortable to be around, obviously very smart and knowledgeable about Bali. He is an extremely nice and honest guy, Unlike many other drivers, he will not try to push you in to going to his 'friends' shop to get comission, infact, on the way back whilst driving down Jl. Legian he even pointed out the potential scams and specific people to stay away from. I was very impressed. We ended up using his services for another trip to Uluwatu and Jimbaran, and then of his co-driver for a trip North. Both very good.
Book before you go though, because he apparently is often very busy.