A couple of days ago, friend Valerie (from Belgium) and I very quickly planned and completed a trip that covered a LOT of Bali. The main goal for her was to get up to Lovina, on the northern coast of Bali, to check out the area and possibly see some dolphins. As Lovina was on my list of places to go in Bali, I was excited for the trip as well.

We hired a guide who brought a friend (rather unorthodox, but it made it fun) and were off at about 9:45 Sunday morning. First stop: the Monkey Forest in Ubud.

I had been to this Monkey Forest before with Helga and Nina, but it was fun to go again. Strangely, the monkeys were more active this time, even though it was almost the same time of day.

We watched them for a while, then continued on to Tirta Empul, a water temple that I had also seen, but where Valerie wanted to bathe in the holy spring water.

Next stop: Elephant Safari.

As you can see, this was not exactly the kind of elephant experience I had last year. While I’m glad we went – Valerie is starting a travel company here and wanted to visit it as a potential site – I would not recommend it as a very true, meaningful experience with elephants. But I am spoiled:)

We then were on our way for a quick stop in Kintamani, overlooking Gunung (volcano) Batur and its beautiful lake.

Then we had a long, winding drive to Lovina, where we arrived well after dark. Tired and hungry, we quickly found a hotel that Trip Advisor had recommended, made plans to see the dolphins the next morning, ate excellent local seafood, and collapsed, exhausted, into bed.

The dolphin trip started at 6:00 and is a big attraction in Lovina. Small fishing boats that can carry 5-10 people all set off from shore in the same direction at the same time. On the day we were out, I counted 44 boats; the hotel owner said there had been over 100 boats the week before.

Okay, so when 44 boats are out looking for dolphins, you can imagine the chaos when they are spotted – all the boats go charging in that direction so the guests can see them. Apparently the boat operators have been told repeatedly to NOT do this. You can understand the terror the dolphins must feel with so many boats bearing down on them. While we did see some, Valerie and I were more impressed by the sunrise and a little disappointed that the boats didn’t just drop anchor and wait quietly for the dolphins to come.

After the tour, which ended early, we had some time to enjoy this nice hotel in this great spot on the black sand beach. Valerie had a massage, and I enjoyed TWO warm showers in the 1 1/2 days we were there. It was a nice little retreat from Kuta.

We then went to the Sing Sing Waterfall/ Lookout, which was beautiful¬†but almost dried up – apparently it’s best during the wet season, which makes sense.

Back to Kuta, which was another long, winding trip, where our guide took us to a restaurant that served “real” Balinese food for dinner. After we finished eating, said guide had the last laugh when he re-assembled our chicken(s), head and all, in a creative artistic display.

Maybe that’s not so funny to my readers, or maybe it’s a “you had to be there” kind of thing, but we were pretty hysterical and it even made the server crack up.