It’s hot here, even though it’s the rainy season and cooler than it is during other parts of the year. We awaken shortly after dawn, partly because our earplugs are incapable of blocking out the sound of roosters crowing en masse, and partly because it’s important to take advantage of the morning hours when you’re in a hot climate.
We have breakfast at Bali Buddha, which quickly became “our breakfast spot” when we saw their monster bowl of fresh fruit, yogurt, and muesli. We wholeheartedly believe in eating the local cuisine, but to keep our bodies happy, we try to give it a breakfast it’s familiar with. We’ve befriended our waitress, Wayan, a lovely young woman with whom we chat each day. She tells us what life is like in Bali and asks us about our life in the U.S. She lives with her entire extended family, which is typical here.
After breakfast, we begin the day’s “plan.” Today we’re visiting holy sites outside of Ubud in Tampaksiring, which means we actually need to use the services of one of the many underemployed taxi drivers who listlessly stand by the road inquiring if you need a taxi—even though you just turned down the guy three feet from him and clearly don’t want one. Today, a taxi is a necessary evil—we could rent a motorbike instead, but the sight of so many motorbikes, riders without helmets, and babies perched on motorbikes (also sans helmet, of course) does not make the notion inviting. We’re told that there are a lot of accidents and it isn’t surprising.
Our first stop is Gunung Kawi, an ancient monument and temple that dates back to the 11th century, followed by Tirtha Empul, an important temple known for its holy waters. As is customary in any temple, we have to be prepared: you cannot enter unless you have a sarong and a scarf wrapped around the waist. Local men also wear a traditional head covering. Women should not be menstruating or just given birth because these are considered times when we are less pure.
After visiting these sites and paying a 1000Rp “toll” for the privilege of returning to Ubud via a town that has picturesque rice terraces, we conclude our afternoon and head back to the bungalow we’re renting for an afternoon siesta (this is a mandatory part of the day when you’re in a hot climate). Before we do, however, we stop in a local bakery.This particular bakery is a Japanese chain with some very odd items (e.g., soft Japanese white bread covered in cheese, “spicy chicken floss,” and seaweed flakes. I’m still perplexed by the idea of chicken floss.) They have a few familiar items like mini chocolate-filled croissants, which David picks up. Each day he also gets something less familiar. Today, that “something” is the size and shape of a Nerf football and is aptly called the “Rugby.” I am not exaggerating about the size. He eats nearly the entire football and later feels ill. You can take a lot of food precautions when you’re traveling, but none warn you against the consumption of custard-filled bread footballs covered in a shortbread crust.
Later in the day, the sky opens up and treats us to a spectacular thunderstorm. It’s rainy season after all, but Bali is hospitable enough to only show us this on the occasional morning or in the evening, after we’ve retired from a hot day of sightseeing.
And that’s it…a day in the life of a tourist. Tomorrow, we leave Ubud, a town that we have come to love despite the taxi drivers. Next stop: beach.