November 15, 2016

2016 Asia - Bali (Day 6)

On our original itinerary, we arranged a day time hike on Mount Batur. However, since the hike would take place during the hottest part of the day, neither my sister and I thought it was a good idea. Instead, we modified the itinerary and split our full day sightseeing tour into an afternoon tour and an addition morning tour the next day.

I had a morning worth of free time. Instead of returning to the pier, I decided to fish at the hotel to see if there were any micros to be caught.

There were indeed a lot of small Goby species in the depressions along the breakwall. However, they were not keen on small pieces of squid, and any sudden movement spooked them into the rocks.

There were some Damselfish by the breakwall. A few of them were guarding rocks. These were usually the ones that would bite if the piece of squid was placed close to the rock.

Onespot Demoiselle (Chrysiptera unimaculata) - Species #686

There were some small Wrasse species around, but there did not want to bite. Meanwhile, Indo-Pacific Sergeant Major kept me at least interested with the occasional bite. I've also never met a Pufferfish that didn't want squid. Fish at this breakwall seemed extremely shy.

While I was poking around the rocks, I noticed a small white Moray Eel. It was the smallest Moray I've even seen - barely the thickness of a pencil and about 8" only. I downsized to a #20 hook and 4lb fluoro. On the first attempt, it bit and pulled my line back under its lair and I was stuck. When I finally freed the snag, I tried for another 15 minutes to see if it would bite again. However, the Moray was not interested anymore.

The one species was all I managed by the time I had breakfast with my sister at 9:30am. After breakfast, I caught up on a little bit of course work that I had ignored for the past few days. I had an excuse before since we didn't have WiFi in the Komodo area. But I can't put it off any longer now that we have consistent WiFi.

My sister had a quick small bite and then it was time for our tour at 12pm. It would require an hour of driving to reach our first location at Tegalalang. While the morning was sunny and pleasant, cloud started to build around 12pm. The further we moved from Candidasa, the thicker the cloud became. Eventually, it started to rain.

As we passed by rice fields, many of them had been cut. Rice should not be harvested when they were wet, so while it rained, local women sifted the rice under shelter.

We arrived at the rice paddies at Tegalalang. This was a UNESCO site recommended by many to visit. We wanted to take our time to walk the paddies, but it was simply pouring monsoon rain. Instead, our driver took us to a little cafe next to the rice paddy. Those who have traveled with me know I love a busy and tight schedule. Well, it was nice to actually kick back and relax for once. When we saw the price of $3 USD for the coffee, we thought it was the price for a cup so my sister and I ordered one each. They brought two pots of coffee and each pot had 3 cups worth. Needless to say, we took the time to enjoy plenty of wonderful coffee with a fantastic view of the rice paddy. We also ordered a black rice and coconut pudding that went really well with the coffee.

After an hour and a half, the rain became light enough that allowed us to walk around. The rice paddy was much too muddy to walk into, so we stayed by the road and took some photos.

Due to the rain, we decided to cancel our visit to the Ubud Monkey Forest. Our driver said the rain would push the monkeys back into the forest anyways and we won't see any. Speaking of our driver, Gusti, we were really fortunate to have him. He was a local to Ubud who used to work for one of the prince of Ubud. He started as a boy preparing offering for the prince and later on accompanied the prince and served as a driver. He had many interesting stories to tell and he knew the area extremely well. Instead of taking the congested main road, he took us around some of the back roads with little traffic and we had a glimpse of local life and local hangouts. We also passed by our driver's wood workshop where he had craftsman carving pieced of art and doors out of local wood.

When we arrived at Puri Saren Agung, it was raining again. We took shelter at a quiet corner of the royal palace while Gusti told us story working at the palace. The royal palace was build by the king of Ubud. There were three courtyards for the kings three sons. While two of the princes family had moved from the palace to other residences and use the palace occasionally, one prince remained at the palace. Thus, much of the palace was off limits to visitors. Gusti spoke about some of the changes that had happened over the years, and some of the diplomats and celebrities that had stayed at the Palace when there were eight guest rooms available.

We only had a couple of short breaks from the rain to take a couple of hurried photos before the rain started again.

Peering into the royal residences which access was restricted, even for Gusti.

Hindu carvings

One of the son was building a new palace compound across the road. Few people visit this area and it was great to walk about on the grounds on our own.

After our palace tour, we had about 45min of free time before our next event. My sister and I grabbed a quick bite at a restaurant and ordered a couple of cucumber lime juice and a mixed Balinese plate. The vegetable fritters were so good that we asked for an extra order at the end.

Finally, it was time for our evening event. Balinese dance performance is held on the palace ground normally, but due to the rain it was held at a theater adjacent to the palace. There is a different style and story each day of the week. On this day, there were two stories in our performance. The first story spoke of two princes who had a conflict but later reconciled. It was interesting that princes in these traditional dances were dressed rather feminine and portrayed by female dancers.

The second story was about a king to asked a deity to help him lure a princess into marriage. The deity turned himself into a golden fawn to lure the princess while her brothers elicit the help of a White Monkey deity to rescue the princess.

It was 9pm when the performance ended. Gusti drove us back to the hotel and we would meet again at 6am the next morning for the morning tour.

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