We left Singapore and after two sea days we have arrived in Bali, Indonesia. Through the use of the online site, Cruise Critic we were able to join another couple in hiring a driver and local guide for a customized tour of Bali. The island of Bali is a relatively large island of approximately 2,200 square miles. When we disembarked the ship we met up with our tour guide and driver from Tours By Locals. We established an itinerary of “must see” places and took off into the crowded streets of Benoa. `
Our first stop was a coffee plantation. The most prized coffee served here was Lusaka, ( a coffee referred to as “cat poo chino” by our guide). It is a coffee where the berries are eaten by the Asian Palm Civet once the beans are digested and excreted they are cleaned, roasted and then brewed into a highly desired and expensive coffee. No thank you! Some may think this rare coffee is terrific, but I prefer a regular cup of Joe, minus the involvement of the Civet cat. We tasted many delicious varieties of coffee and tea and throughly enjoyed most of them. We chose some coconut and vanilla varieties to purchase.
Our next stop was the Monkey forest, the entrance fee was about 40,000 rupees ($4.00 us) We entered a lush rain forest loaded with happy, friendly and sometimes naughty monkeys. I was eager to feed the monkeys, and for a few dollars I was handed a small bunch of bananas and instructed to hold them over my head. I had already removed my sunglasses and earrings since they like shiny thing and sometimes can’t resist the impulse to take them away from the tourists. Very quickly a monkey climbed up my shirt and was peeling a banana on my shoulder. I did this several times successfully. For the last banana I handed it to my husband, as I was taking the camera from him a very naughty monkey bumped him and stole the banana away! Unfortunately we don’t have pictures of that.
We walked along the jungle bridges and temples and were all just delighted to see the spectacular sights of nature. The Balinese people’s respect for nature was evident everywhere.
We shopped in the small town of Ubud, where we bargained with the locals and took pictures of rice fields, local women washing the clothes in the river, and magnificent stone and wood carvings.
We had a lovely lunch of suckling pig at Warangal Babi Guling, a local restaurant. The bill including Bintang, the local beer was less than $50 for the five of us.
When we left the restaurant, a local woman was selling colorful batik cloth. I made the mistake of taking her picture and not buying anything, she was not happy with me.
In our tour we also visited a local Balines home. The buildings are setup similar to a compound with a separate kitchen, some indoor and outdoor sleeping quarters and chickens and other livestock.
We had lots of opportunity to discuss many topics with out tour guide. We would highly recommend Tours by Locals and Agung in particular. You can reach his website at http://www.bali-agung-tours.com
He was terrific at explaining to us about Hindu beliefs and the Balinese culture. At the end of our day we were all so pleased to have visited this piece of paradise and as we headed back to the ship, everyone was talking of wanting to all leaving us wanting to return to this magical land.