Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wet, Wet Bali Tour

On our second day in Bali, we engaged a local private driver to take us around. The arrangement was supposed to be as follows :

  • Silver and wood factory
  • Tampaksiring Temple
  • Gunung Kawi Temple
  • Kintamani
  • Spice Garden - to check out Luwak Coffee
  • Tegallalang Rice Fields
  • Taman Ayun
  • Tanah Lot

The tour guide promised use an English speaking driver and guide, but turns out the guide was actually our 'taxi' driver who picked us up from the airport. He can only understand basic English, and nothing else. How disappointing!

I didn't want the fact that our tour guide is not up to standard to spoil the entire trip. So we just went ahead with the plan.

First stop was the silver and wood factory. We were shown the meticulous process of creating a fine silver pendant on shell. The lady here was slowly picking silver wire and carefully attaching them onto the shell. We didn't buy anything from that shop though as it was too expensive.

Our next stop was the wood carving shop, where we ordered a customised wall carving of our unit number. That cost us RM50 after negotiations, but I think the price is ok since it's custom made for us. We were told it can be completed within the day so just need to drop by here on our way back.

Next stop was supposed to be Tampaksiring Temple, but the tour guide said we would stop by Gunung Kawi Temple first, and Tampaksiring later on our way back from Kintamani. Gunung Kawi is an 11th century temple complex of which 10 rock-cut candi (shrines) carved into the cliff face. They stand in 7m-high (23 ft-high) sheltered niches cut into the sheer cliff face. On the day we went, there was a huge group of pilgrims praying at the temple as well.

Observing the customs before entering the temple.

Pilgrims recieving blessings in form of holy water

Canang Sari - Daily Balinese Hindu offering. You see it everywhere in Bali.

Candi carved out from rock at the cliff.

Inside Gunung Kawi Temple, looks like a catacomb...

Pilgrims at Gunung Kawi Temple

After spending close to one hour at Gunung Kawi, we proceeded on to Kintamani for lunch. The sole purpose of visiting Kintamani is to catch the spectacular view of Mount Batur volcano.

Prior to going there, I read about plenty of stories from tourists on aggressive peddlers. Looks like it's all true. The minute we set foot at Kintamani, a swarm of peddlers came to us with assorted wares for sale. Luckily we did not show any interest so they quickly look for other tourists to target. After lunch at the buffet restaurant, we headed to the spice plantation to check out the famed Luwak Coffee.

Defecated luwak coffee berries, can't imagine this will be processed into the world's most expensive coffee beans.

Brave tourist feeding bats

Unfortunately, we had to pay almost RM30 for a cup of luwak coffee. Declining the offer, we checked out other products on sale such as nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon but they were overpriced. While we were about to leave the spice plantation, it then rained heavily. We rushed back into the car and proceeded with our trip.

Things went downhill from there.

For some reason the driver left out Tampaksiring and headed straight for Tegallalang rice fields. By the time we realised it was too late. To make things worse, the driver was lost for half an hour before finding the way to the main attraction itself. Luckily, the magnificent view of the unique rice terrace made up for it. We were lucky it wasn't replanting season, so the rice terrace was filled with green paddy shoots instead of bare land.

Beautiful landscape, love the green :)

The drizzle started yet again, but now we headed back to the wood carving outlet to collect our souvenir. Unfortunately it wasn't completed so we had to wait another 20 minutes or so before we can collect it.

Already so much time wasted, we hurried over to Taman Ayun. Alas, the minute we reached there it started raining cats and dogs. Our driver seemed to be insistent that we visit Taman Ayun, and asked us to get out from the car. He provided us umbrellas, so we reluctantly headed over to the Taman Ayun entrance only to be turned away by the gatekeeper. Apparently he wanted to close shop early even though it was before 6pm which is the closing time. In the end, we headed back to the car and insisted the driver that he drove us back to the resort, no point to go to Tanah Lot to catch the sunset anymore.

Back at the resort, we requested the tour operator to bring us to Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot the next day, but he wanted additional charge.Angry with the tour operator,we said no and decided to forgo these few sites. We also complained on the quality of their drivers.

I was disappointed we were not able to visit some of the key tourist spots this time around. Perhaps we will have more luck next time when we return to Bali.


Lilium said...

Oh! What a shame not seeing Tanah Lot! It's a beautiful place. I managed to cover quite a lot of places when I was there 2 years ago. Would definitely love to go back (minus the baby). Hehe!

Bali driver said...

It was indeed a wet tour for you, but you have managed to snap great photos in your tour.