Nina, her friend Helga, and I decided that the best way to see some “highlights” of Bali was to take a day tour. While Nina and I had thought about spending a couple of nights in Ubud, neither of us was really that excited about it. This way we would see Ubud on our way to some other sights, while also experiencing a different side of Bali.

We hired a Balinese guide who said he would take us to all the “must see” spots. While we thought this tour was basically ours to plan, he had other plans. Although he asked us what we wanted to see and thrust a map into my hand, he had a bit of an agenda. I guess this is how tour operators make a little more money (from commissions when he takes us to someplace and we buy something), but at times it was annoying. Regardless, we saw a ton and had a great time.

First, we did the obligatory tours of the batik, silversmith, and wood carving factories. We didn’t buy anything, but it was interesting to see how all of this was made – even if it’s pretty much just a show for tourists, the “artisans” set up a bit like zoo animals.

We were then pretty close to Ubud, where we went to the very famous Monkey Temple.

This little guy held Helga’s hand for a minute before we went inside.

For the most part, the monkeys aren’t aggressive, and they are playful and remarkably unperterbed by the many many tourists who invade their home every day. We spent about an hour watching them and looking at their environment and the temple. At one point we did see a young woman get bitten by a monkey, which was scary enough for me to steer clear and not make eye contact:)

We saw many rice fields

and toured an organic farm where they make the very famous “poop coffee” (kopi Luak). This coffee is made from beans that have been ingested and, well, pooped out of the Luak, which looks like a mink or weasel. We tasted this coffee – quite strong but good.

We then traveled to a viewpoint for the Batur Volcano and had lunch.

Back into the car for more driving, and we stopped at Tampaskiring Temple (Spring Temple) which is constructed with a bunch of baths around a spring that is considered very holy. While it was interesting to watch the people bathe and worship, we got the best treat of the day when this massive procession or worshippers of all ages and many costumes came through.

It was a long drive home and a long touristy day. We were back in Legian just in time to watch another lovely sunset – one thing that never gets boring here.