Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rice Fields, Coffee Fields, and a Volcano

Today was spent traveling from Ubud to Mt. Batur.  As the crow flies it should only take an hour or so to get there.  However, the roads here are in pretty bad shape so it took us over 2 hours.  And poor Ethan, the car rides here for him are miserable!  We knew we needed to break up today so it wasn't so rough and that's exactly what we did!  It ended up being a wonderful day!
First stop, lunch overlooking the rice terrace.  One can pay to tour the rice terrace and walk around it however, just overlooking it was enough for us and we were able to see the beauty!  The restaurant was off the beaten path and we were the only ones there for the first 30 minutes.  It was amazing!
This relaxing stop was MUCH needed after our crazy morning.  After several days of navigating the narrow pathway on my scooter without any troubles, the one spot close to our villa that I always worried about finally won!  It took me out!   My last trip on the path and the loose gravel took my tire, spun out, and landed me AND Addyson sideways.  It was SO scary.  We landed towards the concrete wall and I am just so thankful that Addyson's head missed the wall and for the most part, she came out unharmed!  For me, it was scary after we landed as we were in a daze and trying to get up I kept hitting the gas and spinning the tire.  I was worried about her leg getting caught or getting burned.  Thankfully the villa owner was right behind me and came running to help.  Also, the villa that we landed outside of, the people came running out to help!  They took me in to clean me up and give me medicine.  WOW!  What an ending in Ubud is all I can say!

SO, at lunch it was nice to put my leg up and take a deep breath!  I also had to chuckle at Ethan.  He is now in the habit of taking off his shoes at every restaurant we go to even if we aren't sitting at one of the floor tables!  You know you have been in Bali too long when.....
The pictures here don't do the view justice!  This is a Must Do stop if you are in the area!
Another stop highly recommended is a "Agriculture Tourism" stop.  There are several of these stops along the route to Mt. Batur.
Here you take a tour of a coffee/ fruit/ herb plantiation.  They walk you through and explain the process of coffee roasting to you and you get to see how some of the fruits grow!
 You can also take a try at roasting coffee!
Our guide was explaining the different herbs that are grown and how they are used.  He was talking about one as a healing herb that keeps germs out!  The then took some and covered my scooter wound with it!!!
The back of the plantation, around the sitting/ coffee drinking area, was SO lush and beautiful!   The beauty that surrounds us in Bali is unbelievable and hasn't gotten old yet!
At the end of your tour you get to sample the several flavors of coffee and tea that they make!  There was even a green tea for the kids to try!
The whole reason for coming though was to sample the luwak coffee!!!  The coffee bean that is eaten by the civet, pooped out, washed off, roasted, and made into drinking coffee!!!  This is for sale at then end of your tour and of course we had to try come!!!
After sampling the coffee, we wondered around to check out more of the beauty that surrounded us!  One of the workers was even offering to climb the tree to pick fresh fruit for us!
What I didn't get a picture of was the sleeping civet in the cage.  At first I was sad to see that they had a civet caged up until I started asking more questions.  These animals are nocturnal and at night their cage is opened up for them to go wander around the property in the back to forage and explore and then they come back up in the morning to sleep in the cage!  So they are free range civets!  That made me feel better!  We also asked how do they gather all of the feces.  Several guys go out every morning looking for poop piles!  Imagine having that jobs!
As we were leaving we saw the largest month we have ever seen!
From the coffee plantation we made the rest of the drive to Mt. Batur!  We stopped to get a picture of the volcano in the distance before we drove down the steep, winding road to get to our hotel!
One of the 3 volcanoes in the area.
We were SO happy to finally make it to our hotel!!!  The pool area was surround by the lake and the volcanoes as backdrop!  Pure beauty!
The area is also known for hot springs!!!  Our hotel had 3 we could take a dip in!!!  A lot of people come to this area just for the day.  They come in early, hike the volcano, and then stop by one of the hot springs to soak their bodies before heading back to their hotels!
When reading the guide book it mentioned that there isn't much to do in the area and that most people don't spend a lot of time here.  We went against their suggestions of staying a short time and booked 4 days in this area!  Shortly after arrival we soon realized why people don't stay here and that for us to stay 4 days would be a stretch!  This was the ONLY store open in the area of our hotel....
And this was the only restaurant!!!
They had a huge menu but after talking to the owner/cook we realized that the menu must have been from back in the day when there were lots of tourist that stayed.  Really, we only had one option.....
Fish!  Fresh fish from the lake!   We were able to pick one of three ways to have it cooked!  That was our only option!!!  We have decided to make the most of this adventure.  However, I think we will probably be looking into leaving this area earlier than expected!
One of the perks of the restaurant, our view!!!  I have a feeling we'll be eating here again tomorrow night.  I wonder what will be on the menu?!?! : )

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dance and Bird Garden

In our guide book there was a suggestion to visit the village of Batubulan that was right outside of Ubud.  Knowing this was a bit of a far distance, we had our driver (the one that picked us up from the airport and will be our driver while we are in this area) to come pick us up and take us there.
One of the main suggestions to do in this village was to see the Barong dance.  I thought it was a street performance where the people just came out and dance but I read the description wrong.
It is a coreographed dance for tourist.  It is a story about good and evil told using the characters of a Barong (a mythological animal) and Rangda (a mythological monster).
This was the second dance we have seen since we have been in Ubud and one of my favorite things about the dance is the music!  I love the ring to it and I really love the sound of the flute!  I could watch these guys play all day!
Seeing the Randga made Ethan a little nervous and scared!
In the end, good wins and everyone had fun watching the show!
One the way home from Batubulan, we drove close to the Bali Bird Park.  We had been wanting to go there but thought it was a bit far for a scooter ride.  It worked out perfectly to tag this on to our day.  Our driver dropped us off and waited for us in the parking lot.
Most everything in Bali is cheap except for entrance to the bird park!  It was so expensive that I thought about sitting out but Owen begged me to go!  Of course he did, this was a family trip and mommy couldn't sit it out!
I'm glad I went!  It was a nice family outing and good to see all of the birds!  Exposure to animals is something we lack living in Saudi!
We also went to the bird show!  A special treat was sitting in the back and being next to some of the performers of the show!
Tickets to the Bird Park get you into Reptile World next door for free so we took advantage of the opportunity!
After a busy morning, our favorite thing to do is come home and jump in the pool to cool off!!!  We come home so hot and sweaty and the pool is just what we need to get ready for nap time!!!
After nap, we head back out into town for the evening.  This was going to be our last evening in Ubud.  I wanted to take pictures of the area around our villa before I missed the chance.  See the NARROW path?!?!  This is what we have to drive our scooters on to get out to the main road.  On either side is water, the run off from the rice fields.  This trip several times a day makes me SO nervous!
The rice fields that surround us are amazing!  We often see chicken and/or ducks walking around!  It is so peaceful out here!  And so lush and green!
Brad has taken all three kids on the scooter before!  I couldn't  believe it!  Here is what it looks like!
Can you imagine navigating these narrow pathways with 3 kids in tow?!?!
Usually though, Addyson is with me!  We've made a great scooter team!
Down the steep hill from our villa on the way into town is a very lush area that we have been wanting to explore so we took the time tonight to do that.  We parked our scooters and walked down a narrow path to the water.  We spotted all kinds of cool bugs and lizards on our walk!
"Are we done with pictures yet mommy?!?!"
One of the last restaurants on our "must do" list from our book was Nacho Mama!  It is owned by the people who own Naughty Nuri's which was made famous by Anthony Bourdain claiming they have the best martinis in the area.  Nacho Mama serves Mexican food, a must eat for this family!  Here is a picture from the road.  You walk past their outside grill where they make their famous ribs!
The place is tiny and we got to side street side!  I love this because it gives us a great chance to people watch!
The food was AMAZING!  I would send out a warning though, we got a draught beer and it didn't taste very good.  I'm not sure if it is due to water or what but it is probably better to stick to bottle beer when eating at Nacho Mama!
We made one last trip into town to walk around.  We also had some custom shirts to pick up.  We also took advantage of the opportunity to eat some Dairy Queen!!!  Another great full day in Ubud!