Bali taxis are about three times more expensive than in KL, but since we needed one to take us to Ubud anyway, we decided to pay a little extra and hire our friendly taxi driver for the whole day to check out some of the touristy sights.
First stop the darling of most Bali tourist brochures, the Balinese version of St michaels mount, the temple of Tanah Lot:
looking at my photo it looks impressive, when we there it was just shit. This is far more representative of what it's actually like:
Rammed full of tourists. What the photo does not capture is the roasting heat, the cloying humidity, the sweat, the stink, the noise, the unsmiling/angry hawkers, the general chlostrophobia. Not only would I not go back, I wish I hadn't gone at all. Felt like a complete waste of money.
Our next stop was Echo beach, we'd been told it was a nice place to go for lunch by the owners of the Villa. We really liked it. Plenty of waterfront cafes, lots of crabs for the kids to look at and hundreds of surfers battling the waves.
Happily, since I've always wanted to give it a go, I've also been given full permission to become a surf bum by Ali (in the hope I may achieve a similar physique to the surfers on show) - I'll take it!
After a cheap lunch we headed down for a stroll on the surprisingly clean beach while the kids splashed in the water. We could have stayed for hours but with no swim stuff and no sun cream we had to keep it short.
Looking at how happy the kids were, we really need to find a beach for them sooner rather than later on this trip.
While in Ubud we'd heard about a really impressive tiered paddy field nearby, so took a final detour to check it out. It is really impressive:
As with Tanah Lot the construction of cafes, stalls and shops to separate tourists from their cash really restricts the view. But it is still an amazing feat of agricultural engineering. The years and hours of labour required to build and maintain the irrigation system and paddies is just awesome.
Agriculture is certainly very different here than in the UK, everything grows year round, so with a few paddy fields on constant rotation (you can harvest every 5 months), fruit and veg growing year round and a few chickens you're basically good to go. Nowadays the farmers probably make more money from taking tourists down for a walking tour than they collect from their crops.
Leaving the paddy fields behind we headed back into Ubud to see how bad our "good deal" hotel booking was. Initially not good, we'd booked adjoining rooms but the hotel/booking.com had made a mistake so we were shunted to a much smaller room, a bit of negotiation later we were installed into two next door rooms. Turns out the real "good deal problem" is the building works in the garden below our room, but since labour is cheap here, there's no heavy machinery running its just manual work and we've barely noticed the noise.
Looking forward to visiting some familiar haunts and eating a more interesting and varied diet for a few days before leaving the island.