Bali was the first port on our cruise on the Sapphire Princess – I’d normally be itching to get onto dry land after two days at sea, but the crossing had been so smooth and there had been so much to do! All the same, Bali is one of those places everyone who’s been RAVES about. Even if only for a few hours, I was excited to see the place.
The ship docked off the coast of Benoa, a tender port. Disembarking the tender we were greeted by some traditional music and dancers. We pushed our way through the standard bustle of taxi drivers to find our tour guide – we had prebooked a private tour with our driver Madi – this cost us US$60 for the 5 of us, much cheaper than the ship’s excursions!
After fighting through some heavy traffic we visited a Hindu temple of Vishnu. Upon arriving we were given wraps to put around our waists – we were wearing trousers so I think this was for cleanliness as well as modesty.
I have to admit, I broke a rule. On the sign asking visitors to wear modest clothing, they also asked women not to visit during ‘lady week’….oops!
Having an explore of the grounds was really interesting – the architecture is absolutely stunning! There was also a lot of statues and carvings, including statues welcoming us as we entered – did you know there are different hand gestures to welcome men and women? Madi explained to us the symbolism of some of what we were seeing, such as Kurma, an avatar of Vishnu who appears as a turtle, carrying the world on his back. I was a religious studies student in college and am fascinated by world religions so this was really interesting to learn a little.
Next we ventured on Teba Sari, an ecotourist site based at a coffee plantation. We were guided around the site by Wayan, who told us all about the different plants we were seeing. Around the place in cages were some small animals called Luwak, who make the special Balian coffee often nicknames Cat-Poo-Cino!
We were guided to a hut where they laid out a little tea and coffee tasting platter, with lots of different flavours. My favourites were the ginseng and lemongrass teas, and a vanilla flavoured coffee. We also tried the Cat-Poo-Cino….it wasn’t anything special. Just nice coffee.
Wayan also brought out a platter of Bali chocolate – the orange one was to die for! We also tried two Bali ‘wines’ – one of them could have given the Caribbean rum punches a run for their money!
As we were leaving, Wayan was explaining a little about Bali names – apparently my name in Bali would be Putu, which is a name given to first born daughters. He was astonished that I’m an only child – it’s very rare to only have one child in Bali apparently!
Afterwards we headed for lunch at a rice field – knocking off two ‘to do’s in one! I was a little bit worried about food, planning on salad as a backup, but with my trusted language card on my phone I managed to confirm with the waitress my food was safe – I had crispy duck with vegetables with some sort of giant rice cracker – I suspect there was probably some cross contamination however I didn’t get ill, which was good.
We didn’t get to see anything more really, the traffic on Bali is ridiculous, so we were cautious of time. We stopped briefly at a beach to see what that was like but it certainly wasn’t one of the picturesque ones you see on instagram!
Overall, I loved what I saw of Bali – I’ll definitely be returning to the island!