My first day in Ubud had a rough morning. The club only fifty metres away from my accommodations was blasting incessant dance music until late, when my jetlag kicked in and I was wide awake at 2am. I began to plan and number crunch and I discovered that my four month long trip may have to be significantly reduced so I don’t end up stranded in a foreign country without money.
On that slightly downer note, the sun finally rose above the horizon and the roosters began to crow when I emerged from my room onto the small balcony that housed my breakfast table. I had been provided with a bottle of hot water for tea. At 7am I wandered downstairs and asked for breakfast, they soon brought me a plate with toast and scrambled eggs along side a small plate of bananas, papaya, and pineapple. I ate eagerly as I had nothing to eat since my in-flight meal roughly nine hours prior. I spent the morning writing and sipping tea in the hot sun, which soon became far too hot for my liking.
I ventured out with my camel pack in search of water to fill it. I found a near by corner store and bought three litres of water, which I poured into my pack on the street corner. The locals eyed me suspiciously as I pour bottles of water into my backpack.
I then bought a map and tucked it into my pack as back up. I began down one street and just walked and walked. I watched where other tourist went and followed a rather obscure trail, seeing nothing in particular.
A local man greeted me in the street and asked where I was from. I told him I was from Canada and he asked if I had seen the rice terraces. I hadn’t and he offered to show them to me. I thought, “Wow, what a nice guy showing me where to see them.” Turns out I had just hired myself a walking guide without realizing it. But, I don’t regret the mistake one bit. His name was I Nyoman and he was a very sweet man. A glance into the rice terraces ended up to be a two and a half hour trek through the rice terraces, jungle, a visit to the Ayung River, a stop at a 900 year old banyang tree, and a trip into Bongkasa village where we visited the local hand-processing coffee, tea, and chocolate plantation.
The rice terraces were like nothing I’d ever seen. As we walked through them, my sandals seemed like the worst choice. I ended up all muddy and my new sandals were well broken in by the end of our trek. My feet didn’t survive as well. I Nyoman told me that each stalk of rice needs to be planted by hand and then pulled by hand. Seeing the thousands upon thousands of rice stalks I came to appreciate the rice I ate later in the day.
The jungle walk was amazing. I saw plants and creatures I normally would never have seen, as well as views that I could never have seen on my own. The walk was really more of a hike and I was so grateful for my camel pack, I would have been utterly dehydrated without it.
Finally we ended up in Bongkasa at the coffee, tea, and chocolate plantation. A tiny little place where Seeta greeted us and showed us around the garden. I got to see how the world’s most expensive coffee was made, digested by the Luwak before it was collected and de-shelled one bean at a time. Then she sat us down and I got to taste all their teas and coffees for free, along with a plate of milk, vanilla, and orange chocolate. I didn’t taste the coffees because I’m allergic, but the teas were amazing.
I Nyoman then asked if I’d like to walk back to Ubud or taxi. I was filthy and sweaty and needed a shower, I opted for the taxi. I think his “taxi” was actually just his sister and her car. I ended up paying him 500,000 rupiahs or $50 for the trek, but it was worth it. I got to experience some amazing views, which I would not have seen without I Nyoman.
All this and my day was only half over.