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Category Archives: Indonesia
A huge part of the reason Ubud had me captivated was because we spent much of our time at a dog rescue shelter, where they rescue street dogs (and cats, and sometimes even monkeys), sterilise them, bring them back to health and work to adopt them out.
A friend of ours is currently volunteering there, and it is no secret that I love dogs, so we took advantage of her invitation to pop in one afternoon and see what it is all about. We ended up spending much of the next couple of days there - washing puppies, playing with the sick little puppies, feeding the animals (including bottle feeding tiny little newborn puppies!), and playing with the bigger dogs.
The second I stepped in the gate, I left a piece of my heart at this place. Even though I had only known them for mere hours, I love all of those dogs to bits!
Some of the dogs are, sadly, disabled. There are many whose back legs don’t work and have become a little bit deformed because of this.
One of the dog’s back legs had become almost bat-like which made it easier for him to walk on his front legs. Another had just had his back legs amputated and was recovering from this surgery, yet still managed to bound around on its front legs - quite incredible!
There were two blind dogs, one with cataracts and another that had both of its eyes removed. There was a dog that had a gash in his head from a machete, as he unknowingly tried to eat a farmer’s chicken. This dog was nick-named 'Maggot-head' so I'm sure you can imagine the condition he was in when he first arrived to the dog rescue shelter.
There was a dog that had been kicked in the mouth and could no longer open it, he had to eat his dinner through the only small gap he could open in the side of his mouth and slowly slurp his food in. There were dogs that were so sick they could barely lift their heads.
There were puppies who were so sick that had no hair and skin of scabs, plus dogs with all sorts of skin conditions, that just needed some love and care.
There were some of the happiest dogs you've ever seen, yet it was still such a sad and upsetting sight to see. The minute you took a sick little puppy out of its cage, had lots of playtime and cuddles and tummy rubs with it, their eyes would light up and you could see the happiness and love just absorbing into its body!
Its such a challenging, dirty and tiring (physically and emotionally) job the volunteers at these shelters do. One dog came in with problems with its back legs and the vet had said the legs either had to be amputated or the dog be put down. They persevered, initially he was able to drag his back legs along, and now he is learning to walk again! He can walk on all fours now, sometimes his back legs get a bit tangled and he trips over himself, but hey, that happens to the best of us!
There are so many dogs, and I wonder with a very heavy heart what is going to happen to them all - they need loving adoptive homes!!! I did consider adopting 20 or so and sending them back to New Zealand, but unfortunately I’m not a millionaire 🙁
It just really reinforces the point, no matter where you are in the world, please rescue dogs instead of buying them! There are so, sooooo many dogs needing homes, not only in Bali but all over the world. And, if you can afford it, please come to Bali and rescue a dog from one of the many animal rehabilitation centres - they are the most loving, beautiful animals!!
There are a lot of great animal shelters doing great things in Bali. We spent our time at BARC.
Have you ever spent time an animal rescue shelter? I would love to hear your stories!
The Lonely Planet describes Ubud as the kind of place that you come "for a day or two and end up staying longer, drawn in by the rich culture and many activities."
They hit the nail on the head right there. We took note of this so planned a generous stay of four nights, though still ended ended up extending our stay by an extra night! If we did not have a gajillion other places on our list we want to visit in Indonesia before our 30 day visa expires, I could have easily stayed in Ubud a lot longer!
We travelled from Kuta to Ubud and simply booked a tourist shuttle the day before. It cost us IDR 60,000 (approx $6) each and picked us up from our accommodation in Kuta and dropped us off centrally in Ubud a couple of hours later. This is by far the easiest option and fairly budget-friendly.
Our friend who is currently living in Ubud organised a guesthouse for us, and it was the most incredible setting, nestled amongst the rice paddies. What a view to wake up to!
We even had an incredible outdoor shower, and outdoor kitchen in which we attempted poached eggs and toast for breakfast one day. Fancy!
The place we stayed is very new and has only been open for two months, so is still yet to be named. It was on Jl Bisma - right down the end towards Monkey Forest.
Ubud is an easy place to stay. It is very chilled out, especially for us having come direct from crazy Kuta! There are a lot of expats living in Ubud, so it has become quite westernised in terms of the food offering - we had great and authentic mexican food, delicious italian pizza, serious health food (think probiotic, vegan, raw...) and some good Indonesian food while we were there. Word on the street is there is some pretty tasty sushi around too.
There is some magic in Ubud and I don’t know, it just got me. I definitely considered throwing in the towel on this whole travelling thing and staying in Ubud forever….but there are plenty more places to see first!
What we did in Ubud, Bali
HIRED A SCOOTER
The minute we got to our guesthouse we hired a scooter straight away, and this made Ubud so easy for us. It would have been such a hassle having to walk everywhere as Ubud is quite spread out, so with the scooter we were able to jump on and go! It is far less hectic for scooters than in Kuta, even though at times I felt like my life was in Alan’s hands! Depending on how long you are hiring for (days, weeks, months) you will get a different price, we hired for five days at IDR 60,000 a day, though later found out this was at the higher end of the spectrum (expect to pay approx IDR 50,000/day).
SACRED MONKEY FOREST SANCTUARY
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is very centrally located in Ubud, and is a series of 3 temples nestled in a lush, green forest - with about 600 hungry monkeys calling it home! At some points on your stroll through there are women selling (overpriced) bananas that you can hold up above your head, for monkeys to climb up you to grab it. We didn't buy any bananas but it was good fun watching everyone else do it. Even though we didn't have any bananas a monkey still tried to befriend Alan by climbing on his head.
Tip: stick to the paths and don't taunt the monkeys, just let them do their thing - they are known to bite and we saw more than one child in tears there!
Dating back to the 11th century, Goa Gajah is a religious complex containing both a Hindu and a Buddhist temple. It is most known for the Elephant Cave and the bathing pool. We wandered around and took in the serene atmosphere for half an hour or so before discovering a dirt track that we thought looked interesting. We ambled down the track, further and further - until I was convinced we were the only ones in the forest! About 10-15 minutes down the path we came across a flowing river, it was so tranquil. We dangled our feet in the water for a while - one of those truly content moments 🙂
Tip: Don't be forced into buying a sarong from one of the many hawkers in the parking area at Goa Gajah, you can loan one for free on entering. We drove ourselves on our scooter from Ubud, it is about 6km away.
We spent a fair bit of our time in Ubud at a dog shelter, where they rescue street dogs, bring them back to health, shower them will love and cuddles, and work to rehome them. Although we only spent a couple of days there I still found it so difficult and heartbreaking to leave! I have plenty of memories and some photos from this place so look out for more on this in another post.
My obsession with the dog shelter and the time it took for us to plan out our next steps (combined with maybe a little too much relaxation...and laziness) meant we didn't get around to doing yoga like I had hoped. If you are planning on some yoga in Ubud, Yoga Barn is probably the most well known and has a variety of classes every hour or so with all types of yoga and meditation, classes are about $11usd.
We had a GREAT time in Ubud, and every day since then I think about our time there and how easily I could simply live there. Life is lush in Ubud. I'll let you know how I get on with convincing Alan of that one...!
Have you been to Ubud, Bali? What were your highlights?
We arrived into Denpasar, Bali after slowly working through the longest customs queue of all time. After hopping into a taxi at the airport and being driven through narrow streets and multiple near misses with scooters, motorbikes, pedestrians, chickens, dogs, etc, we arrived to our accommodation in Kuta at about 6pm.
Tired, weary and starving after a day that began at 3am NZ time, we were excited to explore for a moment or two before ravishing down some food and collapsing into bed for a good nights sleep.
On our brief evening explore we didn’t find the beach as we had hoped, having not quite got our bearings yet, but managed to follow our noses back to our guesthouse and grab some dinner at a warung (local food restaurant) across the street.
Maybe this sets the tone for the rest of our travels - I don’t know - but we broke pretty much every “rule” on our first evening. This place had no english menu so we had no clue what we were ordering! We ate Nasi Campur - a common Indonesian meal that is essentially your choice from a selection of different proteins (chicken, fish, tempeh, egg, etc), vegetables and sauces, served with warm rice. With ours we ate cold chicken, cold eggs and some other unidentifiable meats, that had been sitting out for who knows how long. And you know what? We did not get sick in the slightest, it was tasty, and it only cost us $1.50 each!
Kuta has a fairly poor reputation amongst many backpackers, as a place full of bintang singlets, fresh tattoos and heads full of cornrows. Wandering the streets I can certainly see the truth in this, however, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when we reached the beach. It was lovely, if overly busy and filled with many, many hawkers trying to sell you everything from jewellery and sarongs, to ice creams, kites and bow & arrows! A simple “no, thank you” repeated three times over as they continually ask you to buy their goods seemed to send them on their way.
We spent three nights in Kuta, with two full days which we spent mostly lingering along the beach and enjoying smoothies at various beach cafes which sprawl out into the sand.
We spent one morning waking all the way up to Seminyak beach (about 1.5 hours) where the people thinned out a bit and it was slightly more peaceful.
One afternoon we indulged in a massage, which typically cost between 50,000 and 60,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for one hour, approx $5-6 NZD. It was quite lovely, but I’m sure a few more dollars would have helped make the experience more relaxing (or at least paid for childcare for the little girl that insisted on continually ripping open the curtain to my massage booth!).
On our last evening there was a beach festival on Legian beach (just down the end of Kuta beach) so we grabbed some tucker from there along with a bintang, laid out the sarong in the sand and watched the sun set.
If you’re on a budget, Kuta’s food offering is not great. Try and eat at local warungs where you can and it will be a lot cheaper, plus a lot more authentic and delicious! We ate at one of the restaurants on Legian street on our second night, and whilst it was a lovely setting, we ordered Indonesian food and not only was it 3x the price of a local waring it was bland and ordinary.
Whilst I did enjoy our time in Kuta, I have been more impressed with the places we have been to since (as I write this I can hear the surf gently folding into the sand, on the peaceful island of Gili Air). It was a great place to start and get a bit of beach time in, so I’m glad we spent some time in Kuta but I’m also happy that we didn’t stay there longer. There is a lot more to Bali (and Indonesia) than an overcrowded beach and a bintang singlet!