Bali Day 1 – Bali Swing, Rice Terrace, Tirta Empul Temple, Monkey Forest, and Ubud Palace

Originally, we planned to go Kanto Lampo Waterfall first thing in the morning but according to Google Maps, it was temporarily closed. I asked our driver, Putu on WhatsApp and he confirmed that too so changed in plan: Bali Swing instead. We got ready by 6:45 AM and walked down to the main road to meet Putu to start at 7 AM because his van was bigger than an average van (can accommodate up to 12 people); it would be difficult to drive up the narrow road to our villa. The walk wasn’t bad going down and took 8 minutes.

I asked Putu to make a stop at the ATM if there was one on the way; my daily hassle of withdrawing cash. That ATM turned out max at 1 million per transaction. We arrived at Uma Ceking Swing which Putu recommended because there was no line there. He was right, we were the first group there! We picked the Swing Package for 300K per person which include 4 swings and 5 nests.

That’s a better value if you do more than one swing because a single swing is already 200k per person.

Fortunately, they take credit cards since 300k per person x8, I wouldn’t have enough cash! After payment, we walked down to the rice field. Lighting wasn’t the best at this time of the day but in order to avoid the crowds, this was the best timing.

The first single swing, I think those trees distracted the view. The guys went first and I went last. If you have been following my blog, you know that I am afraid of heights!!! There were 3 staff to help you into the swing by stepping up a stool, secure the belts, and one took photos and videos of you with your cell phone. The guy was super pro taking photos and videos, I was really impressed by how quickly he switched modes and adjusted settings!!! Below are the pictures taken by the guy with my cellphone and Jason/I took photos with our DSLR camera. The guy also instructed us to look back, hands up the air, etc. Jason looked enjoying the swing.

Looking at how high the swing went, I was already horrified! Time for my turn and the moment they let go, I was screaming!!! OMG, it was so scary and yet I had to smile for photos to make my sacrifice worth it!

The guy kept saying let go of both hands, nooooo I can’t!

Those staff didn’t give up and kept swinging me ahhhh! They said to lay back and hold onto my dress with both hands…

Finally, I did it and they stopped! When I got down, I felt dizzy; that was how scared I was! Was it worth it for the photos? Yes! Will I do it again? No way LOL!!! It took a long time to get through 8 of us and then we went on the next couple swing. This one wasn’t high nor scary 😀

The next couple swing wasn’t as high so it was fine. The guy who took our photos was the only guy operating those two swings, definitely hard work!

Onto the 4th, the final swing. There was another staff who came to swing and took photos of us.

After all the 4 swings, we picked two “nests” since we were running out of time; we don’t want to spend the whole morning here xD

By the time we were done, I was trying to find the first guy who did all the hard work to tip him but couldn’t find him 🙁 Sorry, I wished I tipped him earlier, he was really good!!!

We took a short walk down to the rice field for some quick photos, it was getting hot and more people arrived.

When we walked out of the parking lot, there was a line of cars waiting to get in! We were glad that we did the swings the first thing in the morning – no line and the temperature was comfortable.

Next, we went to Tirta Empul Temple, known as the sacred water temple. The entrance fee was 50k per person in cash.

Sarongs are free to rent at each of the temples and it is a requirement to enter.

The rose-colored temple doors were my favorite in Bali! The details of the craving were amazing.

Many people were bathing there in its holy spring water.

We walked around the temple, I wonder what those are and for, I forgot to ask our driver.

Inside the temple, there were many structures like this.

The facade details are covered with gold and bright colors.

Many sections of the temple are only accessible for prayers. Another spring on the back:

To exit the temple, they route it so that you have to walk through the row of souvenir stands where prices were inflated. At the end were stands selling fresh fruits and juice. I asked for the price of logan, it was 10k a strand so more expensive than at home. I later found out that they don’t grow logan in Indonesia so those are imported from Thailand, thus, the reason for being more expensive.

It was time for lunch and Putu asked if we had any preferences. We said anywhere that is clean, has good Indonesian food, and with good views. He took us to D’Alas, it has a view of the rice field underneath. The prices were on the high side similar to Bebek Bengil. He definitely made a commission by bringing us there but at least it wasn’t a tourist trap.

The spring rolls were okay.

The drinks were good and my watermelon juice tasted fresh and sweet.

I love their tom yum soup; it was the best I ever had! It was so flavorful and filled with good quality seafood. I think the lemongrass made the flavor so rich and different than other tom yum soups that I had where they were usually too sour and took away the true seafood flavor.

I ordered the curry chicken, while I like the more watery-based curry, they used chicken breast to make it so the meat was super dry. I found Indonesian food to be on the salty side and definitely way more spicy than Thai food!

Jeffrey ordered this dish that is not spicy since he can’t take any spice. It looked very interesting and he said was a good mix of small eats.

Peter ordered a fried chicken again.

Jason ordered fried rice with satay, it was a bit salty.

Lunch for 8 with drinks was $134.21 USD. After the break, we made a stop for coffee….Putu took us to try luwak coffee, famous and expensive coffee beans “processed” by this special luwak (that looks like a cat).

The lady roasting the coffee beans..

Coffee beans roasted at different levels:

5 of us ordered a cup of luwak coffee to share and they took out a free sampler tray of different flavors of coffees and teas. I couldn’t tell the difference between luwak coffee and regular coffee, I am not a regular coffee drinker and it was less than $10 a cup so could it be fake?

Even though it was definitely a tourist trap, we did enjoy trying different flavors. Most of us like the coconut coffee the best. I ended up buying a bag for like $15, it was instant coffee powder mixed with powered coconut milk.

After that, we went to Monkey Forest. The entrance fee was among the highest of all – 80k each and they take credit cards.

Monkeys were everywhere and there were warning signs everywhere on what not to do like no direct eye contact, don’t feed them, watch for your belongs…

They looked very fierce but the babies looked cute.

Mommy monkey carrying her baby:

They know where to drink water!

A temple inside the forest:

The temple was fenced off so no access.

Walking through this bridge was so scary, it was filled with monkeys and they sometimes jump over and fight!

This reminded me of the temples in Cambodia.

This one definitely know how to relax and chill!

I didn’t find Monkey Forest interesting and worth the entrance fee but that was just my opinion. Afterward, we went back to Ubud Center to visit Ubud Palace. Putu dropped us off near the entrance as there was no parking there. The entrance to Ubud Palace is free and it was so small that it doesn’t feel like a palace. Only a few doors were accessible but made a good backdrop for photos.

This was definitely cute…

We took a few snaps and walked over to Ubud Water Palace. The entrance fee was 35k each and only the outer garden is accessible. We were required to wear their robes and headbands free of charge. My robe was so stinky….ew…..

Time for a group photo!

It was filled with tourists so I was lucky to have a few seconds with fewer people on the bridge.

The king and queen seats?

We were done pretty quickly. I chatted with Putu and he said he could bring us to an art market, we weren’t interested and it’s probably a tourist trap so we rather explore Ubud Center ourselves. That was the end of our day tour, I paid and tipped him in cash.

We walked over the street near the water palace filled with souvenir stands:

They sell similar mass-produced stuff and I got two walking turtle toys for our kids. The lady asked for 130K and I ended up paying 80K for two so yes you need to bargain for at least 50%!

Jeffrey had their lychee watermelon popsicle stick and said it was so good; it was made of real 100% fruit! I had to try it out and yes the lychee flavor was so rich and the watermelon was so refreshing in the 90-degree humid heat! Ever since then, every time we saw it, we bought it! Most of the convenience stores sell that brand but not all have the lychee watermelon flavor.

We walked out to the main street and checked out more shops. No cute miniature houses nor unique magnets. With so many beautiful temple doors, I am surprised they didn’t make miniature pieces for souvenirs. I saw a couple of ATM machines and I went into one that had the largest cap I have ever seen – 3 million per transaction!

When it was almost 6 PM, we walked over to Hujan Locale where I booked for dinner. We were seated upstairs, it had no AC except for the toilets. The temperature wasn’t as hot as during the day so it was okay with ceiling fans but we finished the iced cold water in no time. We re-ordered so many times, it was crazy! Our group ordered so many appetizers!

The sauce of the dumplings was so spicy, Indonesian spicy is like burning spicy, I preferred the numbing Szechuan spicy more.

Fried fish balls:

I guess this is their version of the siu mai?

The corn with dried pork was my favorite but oh boy it was spicy!

The salty egg yolk fried soft shell crab, it was too much batter and not much crab meat.

The beef stick was overcooked.

Now to the main courses….someone ordered a fried chicken, I didn’t try it out since I am not a fan of fried chicken.

I ordered the minced shrimp stuffed in squid, interesting from the menu description but I didn’t like the texture and it was super salty and spicy!

We ordered so much food that I don’t remember every single dish xD

As Laili and Jeffrey don’t eat spicy food, they ordered a fried fish with sauce on the side. The way they cut and fried the fish was interesting like frying shrimp.

A huge piece of pork?

Overall, each dish’s combination of ingredients and flavors was unique and interesting but too salty for me. Our dinner cost 4.9 million around $312 USD; I wish the dishes were less salty, I would enjoy them. After dinner, we took Grab and went back to our villa right away because I made massage bookings for Laili, Peter, Jeffrey, Stephanie, and Jason via the villa concierge. I don’t like being massaged by someone, it tackles me so I pass on that. If you enjoy massages then you’ll love Bali, it’s super cheap! A 1-hour foot massage was 130k, a back and shoulder 1 hour was 150k. The prices were higher than at the shops since booked through the villa and the masseuses came to our villa.

My impression of Bali after the first day, it was definitely over-commercialized with Bali swings everywhere and their temples, while more colorful than the ones in Cambodia and Thailand, but much smaller structures and access is limited. Their food is on the salty side and as someone who loves spicy food, their spiciness is at a different taste and level that I am not a fan of. There were no language barriers, lots of tourists but manageable especially if you went to the popular ones early in the morning.

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