The Full-Day Best of Ubud Private Tour hosted by Bali Tours allowed us to maximize our day in Ubud.
Traditional Balinese Home
Our first stop is a traditional Balinese home. Each home is built using 4 cardinal directions: the Mount Agung (North), to the sea (South), the rising of the sun (East), and the setting of the sun (West). The sea is North and Mount Agung is South to Northern Bali.
The homes consist of several pavilions inside of a stone wall. Each pavilion serves a specific purpose, similar to rooms in homes in the United States. Only the sleeping pavilion has 4 walls, other rooms have only a roof for protection against the elements. The family shrine is always located in the most positive corner of the home, the North East.
One of Bali’s remaining active volcanoes, Mount Batur or Kintamani Volcano, last erupted in 2000. Near the volcano is Lake Batur. It is the main source of Bali’s irrigation water and breeding of fresh water fish, surrounded by 6 villages. The Kintamani area is Bali’s largest producer of bamboo and one of the top growers of fruits and vegetables.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
The Tegalalang Rice Terrace is one of the famous rice terraces in Bali, known for the winding rice fields along the hill. There are many shops across the road from photo opportunities and restaurants overlooking the terraces. Several staircases lead visitors down the mountain to trails winding through the rice fields including a swing trek.
Goa Gajah, Elephant Cave Temple
Goa Gajah, known to tourists as the Elephant Cave Temple is located in a crevasse between the Pangkung River and Petanu River, creating a magical energy. The cave was originally built for spiritual meditation and prayers. No more than an hour is needed to explore the cave, unless browsing the the many shopping stalls near the parking lot.
Sarongs are available at the entrance and required to be worn by both males and females. In all Bali temples, women menstruating are forbidden to enter.
Faces are carved into the stone surrounding the temple to ward off evil spirits. It is unknown if the cave is named after the stone statue inside of the Hindu god, Ganesh, with an elephant head, god of good luck, wisdom, and success or the elephant face carved above the cave entrance.
Luwak Coffee Plantation
The most expensive coffee produced at Luwak Coffee Plantation and one of the most expensive coffees in the world, is harvested from the poo of luwaks. These cats have exquisite taste and only eat the best fruit of the coffee plants, causing an endless battle between the cats and the growers. As the fruit digests, the coffee beans remain whole and in their shell.
Each morning, the village people set out to collect luwak poo, resembling a PayDay, from the 10 acre forest floor. The beans are rinsed of poo, removed from their shells, and medium roasted to maintain the complex flavors. Luwak coffee is very mild with lower levels of caffeine and does not taste like poo.
Coffee and cocoa are harvested twice a year. It takes about 3 months for the coffee plant berries to turn from yellow to a ready to harvest red, unlike the cocoa beans that turn yellow when ready for harvesting. There are male and female coffee beans. Male coffee beans have higher levels of caffeine than female.
Our complimentary tea and coffee flight includes: Bali Coffee, Bali Cocoa, Ginger Coffee, Lemongrass Tea, Coconut Coffee, Ginger Tea, Vanilla Coffee, Rosella Tea, Bali Coffee and Cocoa, Mangosteen Tea, Ginger Coffee, and Turmeric Tea.
Coffee in our sampler is mixed with coconut sugar and other natural flavors. Since tea leaves are not grown in Bali, tea is made from various parts of fruits and coconut sugar. Learn more about coconut sugar during our trip to the Coconut Family Plantation in Thailand here.
Located in the Padangtegal village, Ubud Monkey Forest, is a sanctuary to more than 200 macaque monkeys. The forest is maintained and owned by the village. 3 times a day villagers feed the monkeys. Sweet potatoes are the staple of the macaques’ diet, but the monkeys are also fed bananas, papayas, corn, cucumbers, coconuts, and other fruit. The food is placed in cages to fulfill the monkey’s mischievous nature and attempt of keep them from visiting the nearby village.
The monkeys are divided into 6 territories. Most active during the day, visitors can frequently see macaques fighting unwelcome guests entering their territory in search of food, water, or to cause mischief. Males live up to 15 years while females have a life span of 20 years.
Use caution around the macaques. Bananas are available for visitors to purchase and feed to the macaques. When feeding bananas, never revoke an offered banana or attempt to hide it after the banana has already been seen. This can provoke the monkeys and result in aggressive behavior. The village asks that visitors do not feed the monkeys human food and make sure all bags and purses are securely closed.
There are 3 sacred temples inside the Ubud Monkey Forest, but visitors are prohibited from entering them. At the main temple, Pura Dalem Agung, the Hindu god, Shiva, is worshiped. Shiva is the transformer, destroyer, and protector of the universe. The holy water temple, Pura Beiji, is a bath house of purification and worshiping of the Goddess Ganga. The cremation temple, Pura Prajapati, is across from the cemetery. Every 5 years a mass cremation is held.
After a long day of eating and harassing visitors, the monkeys relax with grooming and some intimate parasite removal.