As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I had to venture off to exotic Bali for a few days. It was not one of those well deserved holidays that you look forward to all year but more like I booked it 4 days in advance and had to go in order to get my Aussie visa. No complaints there as you can imagine. It worked out well that Perth is only a 3 hour plane ride away and not too expensive either. So, I packed my bags and with my lonely planet in hand I hopped over to Bali and headed to Bali’s cultural centre, Ubud. I knew little if none at all about Bali, only that it was one place my sister has been dreaming of for a long time. It had to be good by her standards. When I read about Ubud, it sounded just up my alley. Cookery lessons, a Yoga Barn teeming with all kinds of yoga classes to satisfy any yogi and food..food, glorious food. My all time favourite.
First morning arriving there, I headed to down to the Monkey Forrest Sanctuary. I was in the mood for some cheeky monkeys. Although, I was warned that these guys weren’t your average cheeky monkey. They were over confident and most definitely not afraid to get close to humans. The monkeys that live in The Monkey Forest Sanctuary are macaques. They get up to all kinds of pure divilment. I had several jump on me whilst minding my own business. They don’t scare people and are not harmful. They will most certainly quarrel amongst themselves and can sound like a bunch of squawking crows if highly agitated, as would anyone. They take kindly to feeds of banana. I found a lot of them to be quite calm, while some of them have this ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude about them and others are hopping madly around ‘treat, treat, TREAT?’
One of my favourite parts of my trip to Bali was all of the delicious food on offer. After my trip down to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, I popped into a cute little warung (family-run restaurant) and slurped up an oddly delightful looking bowl of Bakmi Jawa, a Javanese style noodle dish with vegetables, mine came with chicken and prawns. It was yummy and set me up for my day.
The rest of the time in Bali, I aimed to go a bit more local and try out the more traditional Balinese dishes. Ayam Betutu is described as a Balinese herb dish. It’s more like a Balinese dish loaded with spice. One of the things I learned about the Balinese people is that they have an extremely high tolerance for chili than we do in the west. They can barely detect a hint of it, whilst most westerners find themselves gulping down litres of water or lassi to cure the burning tingle. Despite that, the meals are extraordinarily jam packed full of flavour. I am partial to a nice spicy dish but wary at the same time. So, Ayam Betutu, I ordered this in The Three Monkeys, a top recommendation in the Lonely Planet, so I though this place was going to be fab. Hmmm, the dish was great but it wouldn’t go down in my recommendation of places ‘you just must try’
Pic is a little blurry, still learning the tricks of the trade with capturing that yummy looking pic late at night. However, this is Ayam Betutu. It is thought that the cone of yellow rice is to symbolise gratefulness in Balinese culture. At most meal times in Indonesian culture, you will find this yellow cone on your plate.
Indonesia is the home of Satay and all things nutty. When I ventured inside the ‘Laughing Buddha Bar’, this Tuna Satay caught my eye off the menu. It was a gloriously balmy evening in Ubud and the idea of having some satay was an unexpected treat. Served on lemongrass sticks with mung beans and crispy onions, it was just what I needed after spending the evening on my yoga mat.
And last but not least, the almighty ‘Babi Guling’, otherwise known as Suckling Pig. This little fellow is roasted on a spit for 8 hours overnight and then served up just before lunch to the rumbling tummies that come from near and far. I had heard so much about Warung Ibu Oka, a family run restaurant serving, what has been alleged to be the best in all of Bali. Even Rick Stein ventured here because of this famous suckling pig. When I was served up my portion, I was delighted with my crispy crackling, spices that have your nose running in seconds and tender moist pork and blood pudding(black pudding). Weak at the knees just does not do it justice!
The market in Ubud is a magnificent affair. It starts at 5:30 am and begins with the food market, people travel from villages may kilometres away.
As I was coming out of my Babi Guling experience, I came across a fish spa. I had been dying to get my little piggies in one of these spas for ages. It was my last day in Ubud so I hopped in, no questions asked. The minute my toes hit the water, the fish pounced. I was giggling uncontrollably.
No trip to Bali is complete without treating your visual senses to a display of Balinese dance. It is magical and awe inspiring. The dancers practice for hours every day under the guidance of an experienced teacher. The technique involved in this dance is extraordinary, from the movements of the eye to the shake of the hips. It draws you in and teaches you so much about the people that live on this tropical, colourful, spicy island.