The Bangkok trip that I reported on last month (flight report here, hotel report here and sightseeing report here) and this Bali trip were actually my first proper holidays this year – that is to say, actually taking some time off from work as opposed to going away at the weekends or for long public holidays. Like my previous sightseeing report this does not claim to look at every possible site available to travellers, just those that I visited on my most recent trip. Also please bear in mind that the order of the sites here are not in the order I visited them in.
If there is anything I can advise visitors to Bali (in fact to anywhere) is to take lots of bottled water. It is always hot, and I was personally always surprised how much I could drink when given a bottle of water. My advice is that if you have a taxi driving you around please make sure you have many bottles waiting for you – you can arrange with the driver to buy some before coming to pick you up in the morning. I always had a bottle for every place I went to. So if I was going to 3 different sites I would always have 3 bottles for when I got back to the (hopefully air conditioned) car.
The image that most people have of Tanah Lot is that of the sunset over the sea encompassing the temple. Unfortunately, this makes the evening the best time to go to this site and as you can see, it is really crowded. People who go here for a romantic sunset experience, well … you can forget that! There are way too many people trying to take photographs and frankly it’s almost like being in a bustling market with the mass of people.
Also, you cannot go up into the Tanah Lot temple itself. You might see people going in, but those are locals and not tourists. There are local “guards” who will stop you from going in. They are not official and operate outside the official/statutory law. My advice to tourists is not to push your luck trying to go in. Balinese are very very polite and kind, but if you insult their religion but trying to trespass, who knows what might happen. You may however, be able to go up to the base of the temple and receive a Balinese blessing which involves washing your face in blessed water and having rice grains placed on your forehead — don’t forget to pay!!!!
If, like me, you choose to go to Tanah Lot in the evening you do need to plan your arrival. Firstly look on Google and type “Sunset Bali” and the first result should actually be the estimated sunset time. Aim to arrive there half an hour beforehand, but bear in mind that every one else will probably be arriving at the same time, so adjust your time accordingly. Having been there a couple of times the best way to think about it is to arrive a bit earlier, do a bit of window shopping at the stalls on the way to the temple and then when it gets to around sunset it is time to experience Tanah Lot.
In fact, if you time it right, you will be finished here at about 7pm and then be ready to go for dinner — in my case I went to Jimbaran Bay for seafood by the sea. I’ll be writing a separate report on that meal.
The Uluwatu temple complex is located on the south-west tip of the Bukit Peninsula of Bali, and is where you can find the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple.
The first thing I can say is that it was really really hot! On top of that, much of the complex is not under cover so try to avoid coming here in the middle of the day. I visited in the morning, but by the time I finished up a couple of hours later, boy oh boy, I was drenched in sweat.
Having said that, it was probably the right decision. When I arrived there were only a handful of other visitors. It was a really pleasant surprise. After about an hour of so there, I did notice a substantial increase in numbers from when I first arrived.
Although not as significant in number as the monkey forest in Ubud (see later), there are still a number of monkeys around. Guides tell you to put all loose items into your bags (including your sunglasses) so that there is no temptation for the monkeys to come steal it from you. These are not trained animals so they will not give them back to you, and yes, you can try to chase after it. However, for the one unlucky (read: stupid) soul who thought he was too cool to take off his sunglasses — the monkeys are wily little beasts and I’m pretty sure this tourist was a) given a good work out and b) won’t ever ignore the guide’s instruction again.
I do want to say that these pictures really do not do the vista justice. It really was stunning and I would highly recommend it for anyone who like to take wide angle photos of the sea coming in close to the land on an elevation.
This temple was slightly different to the two previous ones – Tanah Lot and Uluwatu in that the Batuan Temple is not situated on the coast.
As you can tell by looking at the photos, I arrived when there were not many people. I have been here previously and there were a lot of tourists. It would have been almost impossible for me to take photos that looked so clean if there had been any many people as before.
Before you go into the temple, if you are not suitably covered you are required to wear a sarong. From my two experiences here entry into this temple is free, which donations voluntary. You will hear me harp on about it, but donations for these cultural sites across the world are vital to preserving them for posterity.
It was lucky as a tour group had just finished as I arrived. There were about 30 people in it and they were loud! It’s nice to be able to walk around a temple and be able to hear your own thoughts.
I spent about an hour here and in that time we were joined by maybe 10 other people in total. Most of them just came in, took a few photos and that was it.
When it came to leaving, there was a large crowd of people again of about 30 people getting given sarongs — it must just have been fortuitous timing!
Ubud Monkey Forest
“Now I’m the king of the swingers, the jungle V.I.P”
Obviously this is called a monkey forest, so I’ll get the photos of our distant relatives out of the way first. A word of warning, if you do go here, the monkeys have become very used to being near to humans so they may come up to and take things from you. The warnings from the guidebooks is to put everything away or else they might steal it and not give it back – they aren’t trained after all. You can buy bananas to feed them – basically this means handing them a banana, and they will peel it and then eat it; finally leaving the banana skin on the floor for one of the park staff to clear up. Note that some park staff are very aggressive (yes the park staff not the monkeys) about you interacting with the monkeys.
This is the most peculiar part about the park, they let you feed the monkeys and allow the monkeys to climb all over you. And yet, some of the staff tell you not to “provoke” the monkeys. Why let people be so close the monkeys if you are worried about people provoking them. Weird.
But there is also a temple deep inside so there are offerings that are regularly made. I believe they are daily but not sure if it happens more than one a day. I really must take the time to learn more about the cultural aspects of the countries I visit.
And of course, one cannot forget that this is a monkey forest, so expect lots of spectacular rain forest fauna.
Bali Bird and Reptile Park
The final place I wanted to talk about was the Bali Bird and Reptile Park. I wanted to have a quick section on this park, but I took very few photos. Hence why it’s at the end.
Adult Rp. 431,200
Child (2-12) Rp. 215,600
I was quite taken aback by the price of the ticket. To put it in perspective, it is more expensive than going to the London Zoo (at current exchange rates).
Is it worth the price of entry? I’m not sure but the birds appear to be really well looked after. There also seems to be a proper breeding program, though without going a few times it’s difficult to see if this is really working. Unfortunately I was a bit camera shy for this stop so didn’t get very many photos.
After you finish with the bird park section there is a separate section next door which has the reptiles. Again I didn’t take many photos here so I’m sorry about that.