As our regular readers are aware Flight Centre's guest blogger Mel Travelled shared her experience of a Thai cooking lesson during April and more recently her blog Bagus Bali . After spending a month exploring Bali Mel is now sharing a four part Bali blog with the Flight Centre readers, here is post number two with some great new tips for you.
This week in Bali has been all about its cultural diversity. If you really want to experience the ‘Real Bali' like me, you just need to get out of the comfort zone of your resort. If I hadn't have I would not have found the hidden paradise of East Bali or the eccentricity of bud, and I'm certainly glad I did... you will be too.
Picturesque rice fields and overhanging coconut trees line the road to East Bali it was not hard to figure out why so many tourists before me have called this ‘The Real Bali'. After a ninety minute drive from the usual tourist area of Kuta I landed in Manggis, East Bali and to be completely honest...I had never thought of this area until now. With a few days spent at Alila Manggis Resort I was quick to learn that East Bali isn't about sipping cocktails by the pool but is about exploring the culture that makes for a true Bali adventure. If snorkelling or diving is on your list then this is the place for you. On a Jukung (traditional Balinese fishing boat) I was bound for ‘The Blue Lagoon,' a treasure trove of marine life. And suffice to say, some of the most beautiful fish I have ever encountered.
As much as I would like this place kept a secret I can't help but to share this hidden gem with you, but you better not all be there when I get there next time. Just kidding.
From Manggis I was back on the road and headed for Ubud, with two stops on the way. First being the ‘Goa Lawah' or better known as the ‘Bat Cave' for the obvious reason being that hundreds of bats reside within the walls of the cave, it's a bit spooky! The second stop, ‘Goa Gajah' or to us, ‘The Elephant Cave.' A mystical temple with a statue that looks like... you guessed it... an Elephant! This is a quite an interesting place as well. Both stops are definitely worth a visit.
TIP- Carry a sarong with you to avoid renting them at Temples. You must wear a sarong out of respect for Hindu beliefs within Temples.
After checking three things off my to-do list, I arrived in central Ubud.
The not so undiscovered Ubud is the place to embark on a more spiritual or pampering escape. Known as the centre of Balinese arts, it now attracts not only the budget conscious backpacker but the more luxury driven tourist. From its heavenly breathtaking views of rice terraces, guest houses, markets, traditional dances and endless ceremonies, you can feel a sense of the old Bali. On the flip side, a new lease on life is taking hold with luxury resorts, boutique shopping and yoga on almost every street. There are also fine dining establishments such as Viceroy Villas, which has its own Helipad. YES, I said helipad. Note to self - bring my own helicopter next time.
I also suggest you visit the ‘Jalan Monkey Forest', a sacred temple home to over 300 Macaques. TIP - remove valuable belongings as these little cuties have quick hands... so I discovered. Entrance fee is $2.50 (25,000) and a hand full of Bananas to feed them is 50 cents thereabouts.