I didn't book any tour for my 2nd day in Bali. I woke up a bit late so my morning plans to have breakfast in Campuhan Ridge Walk and do yoga in Yoga Barn were scrapped. I instead had my breakfast at the veranda outside my room. The yummy breakfast meal + very good coffee + the awesome view of the pool & rice paddies = perfect way to start the day.
The first stop in my free & easy itinerary was the Monkey Forest, since it is just an easy 10 - 15 minutes walk from the hostel. The entrance fee is around S$2 (20,000 IDR). I heard it's free for locals, sadly I couldn't pass up as a local. Monkey Forest is huge. It's amazing how they are able to preserve it. Apparently, monkeys are everywhere and I suddenly remembered I'm kinda scared of them..lol.
I was trying my best to act chill in this photo, but right after this shot, the monkey moved and was ready to jump on me, so I did what every sensible adult would do... which is to scream and run.:)) It was caught in photo but I will never release that evidence! :D I always laugh whenever I see it. It reminds me of how scared I was of the monkey while the others (including small kids) were so calm.
I wanted to explore the entire place but I got hungry already. I finally found an exit to Ubud center and was walking aimlessly trying to find any good restaurant. I decided to check my google map to see if Ibu Oka, the famous resto offering Babi Guling is near. Luckily, I found one which is only few blocks away. Upon reaching the place, I realized that Ibu Oka is just across Ubud Palace, the venue of the Ramayana Ballet I watched the night before.
I was curious with the pork dish called Babi Guling as they say it's the Bali version of lechon, Philippine's signature suckling pig.
As per Travelfish' description of Babi Guling: "the pig is stuffed and infused with a spicy concoction typically involving turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic, and traditionally spit-roasted".
After tasting this famous Bali dish, I concluded that each has its own unique taste. Babi Guling has various spices mixed with the roasted pork while Philippine's lechon doesn't involve a lot of stuffed spices. I expected the flavor of the Balinese dish to be overpowering but I found it is just a right balance. The taste is light and a lil bit spicy. The lechon on the other hand, only has lemon grass and salt stuffed inside the suckling pig. I love both, but lechon is something that I grew up with and would always prefer. Nevertheless, I find myself craving for Babi Guling sometimes.
There was a car rental beside Ibu Oka. I inquired and the rate is just cheap so I decided to book a half-day rental for their 6-seater van. I already had my itinerary handy and our first stop was Goa Gajah where the Elephant cave is located. This place is a sacred Hindu meditation site. Gajah", by the way, means Elephant. The entrance fee is S$1.50 (15,000 IDR) and you need to cover your legs as this place is considered holy.
There is a pool in the middle of the courtyard which, one of the guides said, contains the holy Tirtha water. The pool is lined with statues of Hindu angels pouring a jar of water in the pool. They said that anyone who drinks the water would have longer life and those who bathe would be young forever. I asked if it also works if I just wash my face. The guide said it's the same so off I rushed and splashed the holy water on my face..lol. The guide laughed.
After the pool, I head to the Elephant cave. The entrance of the cave is the open mouth of this giant face which some believed the head of an elephant. Others say the face represents the Hindu earth god Bhoma while some claims the mouth belongs to the child-eating witch Rangda from Balinese mythology. Inside is a short narrow passage leading you to an intersection. The left side has a niche holding the small statue of Ganesh. The right side holds a small worship area with several stone lingam and yoni in honor of Shiva.
Pura Tirta Empul
After Goa Gajah, we head to Pura Tirta Empul. It is a sacred Hindu temple built around a spring, which local Hindu people considers as Holy. Most people come here to bathe in the holy water as they consider it a sort of purification. They believe that if you wash yourself in the holy spring water, you will be cleansed of your sins and wrongdoings. I also took a dip in the sacred pond for experience. I am not a very spiritual nor a religious person but when I was in the water, I felt like a blanket of calm and peace engulfed me. The area is getting crowded and noisy but I felt very light and just simply present at that moment.
It was an unforgettable experience for me. Until this day, this experience still invokes a different kind of emotion within me. It is as if I was connected to something far greater than anything and everything around me.
I am a Filipina, formerly based in Singapore and is now living permanently in Melbourne. Yet, I am really a global citizen at heart. :)