Tuesday, August 15, 2017

SE Asia 2017 - Day 2 (8/15/2017) - Denpasar and Ubud

I got dressed and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant sometime around 8am.  During breakfast it began to rain fairly hard, which worried me that it could put a damper on the day's activities.  Luckily, it didn't last much more than 30 minutes.  During this time I went to the hotel tour desk to ask about transport to the sites.  The transport guide suggested that I go to Ubud today, as the temples that I was interested in were supposedly better for sunset viewing and the clouds would interfere with that.  I agreed to that plan, not knowing that he would actually tag along with me in the taxi (which was really a small unmarked van).

The cost of transport to and from Ubud was IDR 650,000 (a little under $50 USD).  Our first stop after leaving the hotel around 8:50am was an ATM so that I could withdraw some cash to pay this fee (they only accepted cash), but neither of my cards worked there.  I had much better luck at the second ATM that we tried.  I told the guide that I wanted to check out the Ubud Palace, but other than that he mostly ran the show - in retrospect I have mixed feelings about yielding so much autonomy.

He first took me to Sari Wisata Budaya, which was a Balinese dancing show.  I expected it to be a waste of an additional 100,000 Rupiah, but it ended up not being horrible; I do wish that they had more comfortable seating, though.  After the approximately hour long show we continued on our way through Denpasar toward Ubud.  At one point we got in a minor accident where our car clipped a motorcycle that suddenly stopped and turned.  Luckily, there was no noticeable damage and the only cost to us was pulling over for the rider to have a stern chat with our driver.  Speaking of motorcycles, there are a ton of them (and scooters) on the island.  There are also proportionally more Nissan Jukes (the model of car that I currently own) than I would have expected, but the compact size probably works well for the streets here.

In Ubud we made a couple of pretty worthless (to me) stops at a silver factory (for lack of a better word) and a painting gallery.  I had no interest in buying anything at these places, but I didn't want to be too disagreeable to the guide, so I went along with it (though went through the places pretty quickly).  I understand why they put these stops in for tourists, but I'm definitely not the ideal demographic for them.

We eventually made it to the Ubud Palace, which I found to be pretty underwhelming.  When they dropped me off I told them that I would be about an hour, but I didn't need more than 15 minutes to see the place.  It seemed that only the courtyard was open (I honestly don't know if there's supposed to be more to see than that), and much of it was under construction.  After walking through the courtyard I decided to walk down

Bebek Uma Sari Resto (but I can't seem to find it online) for lunch a little after 2pm.  The place is really nice, and I'm sure the guide gets some sort of commission for bringing tourists there, but the prices were also very reasonable.  My lunch of the Vegetarian Nasi Goreng (w/o the fried egg, of course) and ginger ale cost only 146,500 (about $11) Rupiah after the service charge and the credit card transaction fee.  The meal itself was pretty solid (well made and presented; rice was good; tofu & bean curd satay was meh; peanut sauce made everything better; casava chip snack was delicious, though the sauce a little too spicy for me), and the atmosphere and seating arrangements over the water were pretty fancy.  So it was a pretty good end to an overall disappointing tour.

After that we had a 1.5 hour drive back to the hotel (did I mention that traffic in Bali is pretty awful?), where I made arrangements to have the driver take me to the temples the next day.  After a brief respite in the room, I walked over to Kuta beach in time to catch the cloudy sunset.  I returned to the room and turned in early.


Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/GBb3cDWVzQCR9oyFA

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