Now in Ubud in beautiful Bali
It was a leisurely morning with a bike ride, breakfast by the beach and some final conversations with my blogger friends. Later that morning we boarded a ferry that would take us to the eastern side of the island of Bali. It was an uneventful 90 minute ferry ride. Over the past fifteen days we had been on a dozen flights together, at least as many boat rides and dozens more buses, but this was the last transportation excursion together. While many were anxious to have some alone time and either get home or to their next destination, there was no mistaking the melancholy in the air. We had grown close to one another and it would be sad to part ways.
During the ferry ride I was talking with Alrac, one of my fellow bloggers. I was telling her that I was staying in Indonesia for a few more days and would be heading to Ubud, parting ways from most of the other bloggers who were heading to Denpasar and were either leaving that evening, or the next day. She informed me that she too was staying for a couple extra days and was wondering if she could tag along. “Sure,” I said. While I was certainly excited to be on my own, away from the confines of being with a large group, there was plenty of time for that. I had grown fond of Alrac and thought it would be nice to have someone to share the Ubud experience with. A few days earlier I had booked a room at what looked like a really nice resort, not far from the center of Ubud. On the ferry ride I told Alrac where I was staying and she too booked a room. Oh, the convenience of a smartphone and data SIM card.
When the ferry reached the dock, we all disembarked with luggage in tow. I had arranged a private taxi to drive me to Ubud, so Alrac and I quickly said our goodbyes to the other bloggers and were on our way. It seemed like the drive to Ubud was taking a long time, so I pulled up Google Maps on my phone, only to find that the driver seemed to be going out of our way. When I brought this to his attention, he simply told us (in broken English) there was an event going on and he thought it best to bypass it. It took over two hours before we reached our hotel, and once we did I whipped out 500,000 IDR to pay the man. The driver looked at the money and said “that’s just for the ride, you need to pay for fuel too.” I immediately suspected some sort of scam, but decided to asked him how much more he needed? It was such and odd exchange, while the driver was communicating that we owed more than the 500k IDR, he wouldn’t tell us how much more. I was getting very frustrated at this moment and also a bit mad. This driver was arranged by our amazing tour handler, so I was a bit more amenable than normal, but it was becoming clear he was trying to scam us. I went round and round with the guy for at least five minutes. He would not tell me how much we owed him, and just kept saying that we owed for the fuel.
I had enough! With our luggage out of his vehicle, I told Alrac that we were done and to follow me to the resort reception. I forced the driver to take the 500k IDR and said, “we’re done, we’re outta here!” And so off we went to check into our hotel rooms. The driver continued talking, even pleading to a resort staff member. Alrac and I ignored him and made our way to our respective rooms where we agreed to meet in an hour to get something to eat. It was now late afternoon and we did not have lunch, so both of us were famished.
As I made my way to my room with a porter, I was informed that I had been upgraded to a villa. After the porter left I turned the A/C on and began to freshen up. After a half hour the air did not cool the room off. Frustrated, I went to the lobby and requested another room. I was put in an older part of the hotel in a standard room where the air was not much better and the accommodations where not nearly as nice or sophisticated. Frustration still emanating, I went to meet Alrac at the lobby. Hot and hungry, I was not good company. I was irritable and could not help it. Alrac took it all in stride and chastised me a couple of times, telling me I had little to complain about, here I was in paradise with a beautiful woman. She was right! After we got something to eat I felt much better.
We had a very late lunch/snack with a couple of cold beers in an outdoor cafe that looked out on the street in one direction and out to these lush rice fields in the other. Alrac and I had an amazing conversation and it was nice to be on our own schedule. We could go or do whatever we wanted. It was refreshing and freeing after being with such a large group for an extended period of time. We walked around and got a lay of the land, saw many quaint shops and also scooped out a place where we would go for dinner that evening. We went back to our hotel to rest a bit, then met up again to head to dinner.
We slowly strolled the streets of Ubud en route to the restaurant that we identified as wanting to dine at. We really desired nice meal in an extraordinary setting. While we had no shortage of fantastic meals the previous two weeks, everything had been served buffet style in order to accommodate our large group, so we were both looking forward to a formal sit-down meal. The place we chose was Manisan, nestled within a subtle terrace of rice fields that made the outdoor dinning experience simply extraordinary. The interior of Manisan combines age-old Javanese elements with sophisticated design touches. It has a refined look that sets the stage for the dining encounter, which pays tribute to the heart and soul of Indonesia. A slight breeze made the temperature perfect, while the sophisticated Indonesian food indulged our senses. It was a lovely ending to our first day in Ubud, Bali.
Alrac and I eventually made it back to Agung Raka (the resort we are staying) and went to our respective rooms. Tomorrow we have a full day of activities around Ubud, so please check back. Click here to read my previous Road Diary report, or click here to read the next one.