Monday, July 04, 2005

Day 4 - Exploring Ubud

6.00 a.m. We got up early, to take full advantage of the early morning coolness. We also wanted to see what those padi fields looked like in the morning light sans rain.

By 6.30 a.m. we had ordered breakfast and were out on our porch to breathe in the fresh air and take in the sights. And what a sight Nature had prepared for us!

The padi fields, misty in the morning

Bird watching from our doorstep (taken by HM)

Our front garden was alive with birds, constantly flitting back and forth amongst the plants. There was even a nest which the adult birds took turns visiting, presumably ferrying bits of food for the baby birds. It was like watching the Discovery Channel while eating brekkie!

Breakfast was served by a smiling Tegal Sari staff, whom we didn’t get the name of but she smiled and smiled that day, and every day after that. That morning, our breakfast, included in the price of the room, consisted of:

Mie goreng ala Tegal Sari

Bubur ayam (chicken porridge)

I opted for an avocado juice in place of the tropical fruit. To round things up, we had Balinese coffee, made with the coffee powder and kettle supplied.

After breakfast, we made our way down Jalan Hanoman. The plan was for HM to go for yoga class at the Balispirit studio, and for me to do a little exploring, before meeting up at Batan Waru for a second breakfast. But when we got to the studio, we realised that we had gotten the time wrong; the morning class was at 8 a.m., not at 9!

There and then, we decided to go to the 10 a.m. yoga class at Indus Restaurant instead. But we didn’t fancy trekking there on foot, especially since we hadn’t a clue how long that would take. The other option was to go back to Tegal Sari, where we could get a ride to Indus, although that would mean having to backtrack. For some reason, we didn’t think of calling Tegal Sari and have someone pick us up from where we were.

We didn’t have long to dither though. We heard someone say, “Transport, transport?” For once, we were glad to be approached! After a little bargaining, we were on our way to Tjampuhan, where Indus is located. The cost of the ride was 20000 Rp (S$4) which was the rate quoted by Tegal Sari for a similar ride; Tegal Sari offers free rides around Ubud itself. Later on, I would find out that we could probably have gotten the price down to 15000 Rp or even 10000 Rp, but we were just glad to get going.

Indus the restaurant itself was beautiful and the view from the yoga space was just breath-taking.

First view of Indus Restaurant

The view from the Indus yoga space

Leaving HM there, I went for a walk around the area. From the garden outside the yoga space, we could see people walking along the ridge opposite. According to the yoga instructor, the ridge was accessible from the Tjampuhan bridge, but I was too chicken to try the walk on my own, especially since it was getting hot. Instead, I just traipsed around, looking for photo opportunities.

A cat, a comparatively rare sight in Bali

More padi fields, complete with duckies and coconut trees

Ooh, would we like to stay here and how!

Where we wouldn't get a chance to eat at, dang!

The Tjampuhan bridge

So many possibilities, so little time

Somewhat bizarre if whimsical architecture

Young rice

I get it - we're not in Ubud anymore!

The Art Zoo

When I returned to Indus, yoga class was over and it was time for brunch. We had to eat at Indus of course.

It was so pleasant sitting there, with that gorgeous view and the breeze.

View from Indus Restaurant

Everything was scrumptious. My favourite dish, without a doubt, was the Balinese paella, while HM really liked the iced flores tea. We both enjoyed the ice cream, which really resembles ice kachang rather than ice cream. I have to say, the rather coarse ice bits may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard not to adore the flavours of the coconut cream and black glutinous rice (bubur injin or bubur hitam). In total, the bill came up, unbelievably, to 146050 Rp (S$29).

Iced flores tea

Iced tea with papaya and pineapple

Giant keropok

Vietnamese rice paper rolls

Balinese paella

Coconut ice cream, dotted with jackfruit and green beans

Black rice ice cream

Emerging from the restaurant, we found the driver who had sent us there, waiting for us. We hadn’t asked him to wait, so I was a little annoyed, feeling that we were having our hand forced. I don’t think he would have made a scene if we had said “no”, but in the end, it just seemed easier to hop in and be chauffeured back to Tegal Sari. We just hoped that he wouldn’t still be there the next time we emerged from the hotel!

In the midst of the afternoon heat, it was a relief to chill out by, and in, the pool, and such a pretty pool it was. True, the sunken bar was unmanned, unlike the Griya Santrian pool, but hey, we weren’t paying US$84 per room!

Ahhh the Tegal Sari Pool

Revived by the swim, it was time to go shopping. By this time, we had learnt to use the alternative entrance/exit to Tegal Sari, via the rear of Greenfield Bungalows, which was really useful for avoiding any potential encounter with Mr Driver.

Coming from the land of shopping centres, shopping in an alternative setting is always a pleasant change. The streets of Ubud were lined with interesting little shops, some of which were so attractively decorated.

Clever packaging of traditional Balinese and Indonesian snacks

What a pretty shop - Sagu by Asialine

One of my favourite shops in this respect was Sagu Bali Snacks, where we spent at least half an hour sampling various goodies. We were tickled to find that some of the snacks were similar to what we had at home, those little gem biscuits with the icing on top, for instance. In fact, when we mentioned it to the staff there, they told us that their Japanese tourist customers had already pointed this out!

We finally walked out with 160000 Rp (S$32) worth of what we figured was more Balinese/Indonesian: boxes of ginger tea and ginger coffee with palm sugar, nutmeg slices shaped into flowers, ginger malted candy, pandan-wrapped biscuits, and banana chips. Quite unbeknownst to us, the banana chips - which were soft and chewy, quite different from the crunchy ones we get in Singapore - were to come in handy a little later in the day.

Our haul for the afternoon:
• Another blouse from Uluwatu Lace, for HM’s mum (approx. 200000 Rp/S$40)
• A family of cactus-shaped wooden candleholders for the house, from Asialine, sister shop to Sagu (206100 Rp/S$40 for the set of 3)
• Handcrafted silver earrings for various people (averaging 60000 Rp/S$12 each)
• Some funky wooden and shell accessories, as gifts for friends (averaging 15000 Rp/S$3 each)
• CDs of gamelan music (60000 Rp/S$12 each)

Incidentally, the Uluwatu Lace outlet in Ubud was our sixth for the trip: we had already been to one in Sanur and all four in Kuta!

It was almost time for dinner, but since we were just round the corner from the palace, we decided, on the spur of the moment, to go watch the legong dance instead. Having bought the tickets (50000 Rp/S$10 each), we went in search of easy-to-eat finger food like sandwiches or pastries to tide us over till dinner. Unfortunately we didn’t seem to be able to find any in the vicinity of the palace, and we did so want to get decent seats. In the end, we hoped our banana chips would suffice and settled down to watch the show.

The stage awaits

The musicians

Welcome Dance

The baris

The chondong from the Legong dance

The male bumblebee

The Old Man character from the Topeng

The curtain call

It was a lovely night out. The outdoor setting was surreal, especially with the architecture of the palace in the background. Gamelan music filled the air. The weather was cool, cold almost, and not at all humid.

The highlight for us was the legong kraton dance itself. The legong dancers were fascinating to watch, with those “shimmy” movements. To our untrained eye, the baris dancer who performed that night seemed very young and perhaps not so experienced; on our previous trip, we had seen an extremely captivating performance by a baris dancer with incredibly dramatic eye movements. Still it was a rewarding way to cap a Ubud-ian day.

The show ended after 9 p.m. by which time we were cold and ravenous. The easiest thing to do was to walk around the corner to Café Lotus, for dinner. By then, we were so tired we forgot to take photographs of the food and we didn’t claim the SQ boarding pass discount given by all Lotus outlets!

With the lit Water Palace in the background, we had green chicken curry, a fish dish (Be Pasih Lawah Goa), fresh strawberries from Bedegul, served with vanilla ice cream, and an iced coffee with vanilla ice cream. The chicken curry was a bit of a disappointment, being rather nondescript, but the fish, which reminded us of a giant otak-otak, was delicious. In all, the dinner cost 188000 Rp (S$37).

As dinner drew to a close, we decided to take advantage of Tegal Sari’s pick-up/drop-off service – the first time we had done so in two days – so that we would get back slightly earlier to rest up for another big day.


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