Bali, Indonesia – Ubud

We’d arranged to have our driver Made take us up to Ubud, which is about a 2 hour drive from central Kuta (allowing for some evil traffic) and we got there about 11am, which was a little earlier than we’d intended but our room was ready, which was good.

We stayed at a place called Gajah Biru Bungalows which is actually just outside Ubud itself in a place called Penestanan.  It’s about a 25 min walk into central Ubud so not too bad.

We had a big ground floor room which was just round the corner from the small pool, and the whole place is basically in the middle of the forest, so lots of wildlife around.


Jo got a free name tag made for her which was cool, (I got one later!) and we also booked a trip for the following day to climb up Ganung Agung which was a 2am start.  Because that’s obviously a relaxing thing to do on holiday…

We went for a wander into Ubud itself, up and down some reasonably steep hills and with the standard narrow or non-existent pavements and a reasonably rickety looking bridge.


One thing I would say is that when I originally came to Ubud back in 2001, it was known as a nice serene place in the mountains good for a spot of yoga, with the the Tegallalang rice paddies up the road.

Unfortunately, since then, someone wrote a book called Eat, Pray Love which was partially set in Ubud and as a result, it’s got a lot busier since then, which was a of a shock, however it is still a lovely place full of nice people and decent food – it’s just a bit squishy.

Ubud Monkey Forest

As we only had part of the day, we had some lunch on Jl. Raya Ubud then walked down to the Monkey Forest, a famous set of temples tucked away in the forest just chock full of monkeys.

Hairy Parenting
Monkeys clearly have no sense of decorum

I’d thoroughly recommend going to the Monkey Forest if you are in Ubud, though as with any monkeys you need to keep an eye on your belongings, we even saw a monkey climb into a van and start honking the horn.

Carved stone bridge
Deep in the rain-forest

We headed back to the hotel, and because we’d booked the trip up for early next day we skipped dinner and just had some snacks.

Unfortunately, I developed a slightly dodgy stomach in the night which meant we had to postpone the Volcano trip, so we just chilled by the pool. 

Weirdly, as I got better during the day, Jo developed a migraine so she went for a nap, and I ended up having a fantastic burger in a placed called Element just down the road, which had some excellent advice.

Important Safety Advice

We’d assumed that we’d be recovered the following day, so we’d booked a morning of white water rafting for the next day, and we both woke up feeling a lot more lively.

Rafting on the Ayung River

For the rafting, we were picked up and taken to the main offices where we got given fancy helmets and life-jackets then loaded on to the back of a truck and driven into the forest  It was also pissing it down with rain, but given that we knew we were going to get wet anyway, we didn’t really mind.


At the end of the drive, there’s about a 25 min walk through rice paddies down into the canyon where the boats were waiting.

While the rivers wasn’t particularly fast, it was great fun, with the opportunity to hop out for a float and wander under a waterfall.

There was a stop at the halfway point where you could get a drink, we bought our coxswain a beer because obviously you want the man in charge of the boat to be tipsy.

At the of it was a 10 min walk back out of the canyon, a walk back up to the main office where we’d started and a free buffet lunch.  Overall it was a great day, and we got such a good deal that the lady in the office asked us not to tell anyone else what we paid… 


Once we’d been dropped off back at our hotel, we showered and took a wander into Ubud, at which point Jo tried my Mocha Frappuccino which I’d been singing the praises of for a while, but which turned out to be The Best Thing Ever, which admittedly is helped by the fact that the Starbucks has excellent A/C and is a great place to hide from the madness that is Ubud’s main streets.

Jo did a spot of shopping for some cheap trousers and we headed back to the hotel, chilled out and got an earlyish dinner at Element (again, it’s that good) as we were going to make our second attempt at Gunung Batur.

Climbing Gunung Batur

The day starts early, with a 2am pickup from Ubud, where we grabbed 4 other English girls from various other hotels, all a lot younger than the two of us and on their ‘Gap Yah’ and they were nice enough.

From there, you drive for an hour and a bit to a rendezvous point where we were fed pancakes, then driven for another 30 mins to one of the bases around the volcano.  We were introduced to our guide, a lovely local lady who could probably run up the mountain twice without blinking and issued a torch that didn’t work very well.  

I’d recommend bringing your own torch just in case.

The climb itself starts around 4am and is obviously still pitch black and it starts relatively easy, but soon really starts to change, the vegetation disappears and moves towards pumice and other igneous/metamorphic rocks and gets very steep and rough, to the point that it’s more like a ladder and you have regular stops every 10-15 minutes or so.

The whole ascent took probably an hour and a half, and I really wish I had taken a picture of the dark sections as looking up and seeing just this line of torchlight snaking up into the sky was pretty epic – but it also showed how far you had to go!

Once you get to the edge of the caldera, you can sit and take in the view or do the final small stretch up another section.  Jo and I decided to get a good spot, have a cup of tea and stop there, our guide and the youngsters kept on going.

If you’re going to do this (which I would recommend) then you should take a few things with you to the top, mainly being at least a jacket of some kind  and as well, ideally, a change of top.  This is simply because you will get very sweaty on the way up, and then when you stop, it’s pretty cold before sunrise so you’ll really feel it.

Waiting for the sunrise

Unfortunately it was pretty misty/foggy when we got up to the top, and that’s just the luck of the draw.  It was still well worth it, and we did catch a bit of the sunrise.

Batur Sunrise
Obligatory Sign Pic – VERY DUSTY SHOES

The walk back down took about an hour, and was on other side of the mountain and a lot easier (it does beg the question why we didn’t come up that side…) and via a fly ridden coffee plantation where we didn’t want to buy anything, were back at our hotel by 10am, which was a little surreal…

As this was our last day in Ubud, we nipped into town to tick off the last few things, namely the market, the Palace and other bits and pieces, all of which are really cool.

Saraswati Temple
Obligatory Sweaty Selfie
Palace Barong

When we got back to our hotel and because we were a bit achey, we decided to get a massage.  I know, it’s not a very blokey thing to do, but it was amazing, an hour or having every muscle worked on, including ones I didn’t even really know about.  We basically oozed out of the spa, it was definitely worth the 9 quid each that it cost!

Anyway, we had an easy evening and arranged our car for the next day, we were off to the chilled north coast and Lovina!

Jason Gilbert Written by:

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