One of the places that I wanted to visit was a temple called Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. It's a temple built on a lake with mountains surrounding it.
I made plans with Graziela to see it along with another temple Besakih (the mother temple) since it's very expensive to rent a car alone. However, in the process, our plans changed and I decided to look for other options. Grazi told me she took a motor taxi to go there and paid only IDR 100k (around $8 USD) for the 1-hour drive. I was close to hiring a motor taxi to take me up the mountains, but the thought of riding a motorcycle with a stranger seemed dangerous for a newbie solo traveler.
Researching in between work, I decided to take a shared tour as it was cheaper and safer. Plus, I'd be able to meet new people. The tour was called "Tanah lot Sunset tour".
In the car with me were 4 other people—the driver, a couple whose names I wasn't able to get (why do I keep forgetting to ask people's names?), and Dana (I got one name!). This time, I took the front seat. The first thing the driver told us was that we might not be able to see the sunset because of the weather. I was disappointed but told myself I was there for the lake temple, not the sunset.
Alas Kedaton monkey forest
So our first visit was to another monkey forest in Mengwi. A much better one, I might add! Better because of the magical feel of the forest. The trees reached high above us like giants. The monkeys, however, were more aggressive. They said it's because not a lot of people visited the forest, so the monkeys were not as used to humans than in Ubud which sees hundreds of tourists daily.
As we stepped out of the car, I saw this huge statue of a humanoid ape with an angry expression on its face. It makes you wonder about what the creature is doing, but I'm assuming it's trying to fight off demons and protecting the forest and the sacred monkeys that come with it.
I was humbled by the size of the trees that stood in front of me. I imagined hundreds of giants all looking down at me. It felt like they were whispering to one another as we walked past them.
A man who worked in the forest approached us with a smile. He was friendly and nice, but very persistent. He kept asking if we wanted to touch the monkeys or put them on our heads or stand next to them so we can have our picture taken with them. We were not interested in getting close to the monkeys so we kept saying no. I am not a fan of monkeys. There's something creepy about them.
Some of the monkeys were very mischievous; Jumping around. But there were also timid ones who just sat and watched like well-mannered children.
Forest. Endless trees. Oh! I wanted to stay longer and bathe under them, but the driver reminded us that we had 30 minutes left. This is what I don't like about tours. There's always a time limit to everything. But who am I to complain? It was the only way I could see the lake temple with a tight budget.
Mama monkey carrying her baby.
And here's another baby monkey playing in a pool of leaves.
Taman Ayun Temple
I didn't get a lot of pictures in this temple because we were busy chatting. I learned that the couple worked in the tourism industry in Europe. Their job is to travel to places in Europe whenever their services were needed. Plus they can request to travel on their assignment as a couple. Who wouldn't want to travel with your significant other, while getting paid to do it?
This is the only photo I have of the temple. There is a ceremony going on inside.
Another coffee plantation
I knew what to expect when we got to the plantation. However, I did not expect to see that the Luwak coffee price here was half the price of the other plantation I visited. It was incredibly frustrating to realize that I was being fooled into buying the coffee at twice the price. The owner said they were the only ones selling the pure Luwak coffee, but I now felt like a complete idiot for being so gullible. Duh!
Lesson learned: Never buy anything no matter how important it is until you check other sources and verify that it is worth buying.
Well, at least I had a free cup of cocoa. Something to keep my mind off the scam.
As we were about to head back to the car, I noticed something weird at the corner of my eye. I saw what appeared to be plants/stems/roots with faces carved on them. They were very, very odd and creepy. Balinese people are very creative, but sometimes in a weird way. Seriously, these are very creepy!
I wasn't overly excited to see the terraces, but it was part of the tour. We climbed up a mountain and saw this restaurant up ahead. As the driver was about to park the car, I noticed that there was this really big hole on the side of the road that seemed very dangerous. Trusting the driver's instinct, I didn't say a word. But then there was a sudden tilt to the right and an "Oh no!" coming out of the driver's mouth, and I knew exactly what had happened.
This! Holy shit!
I had that anxious feeling in my stomach and had no idea what to do. I was calm, but my fight-or-flight instinct had not activated. Should I go down the car? Should I stay? We were close to the edge. The recent bus accident in Northern Luzon flashed in my head. How high are we in the mountains anyway? If I fall, will I survive?
"We should get out of the car." someone from the back seat announced and that was my cue to open the door and get out. Since Indonesia practiced left-hand driving, my side was the safe side. I got out of the car and examined the damage.
Some people saw our predicament and decided to help lift the car up while the driver was inside driving on reverse. We told each other that this was going to be a crazy story to tell people later. I might be exaggerating when I say it was a near-death experience, but the moment felt like it. And I realized, I was too calm, not doing anything to save myself.
It reminded me of the time a massive earthquake occurred in Cebu while I was on the 8th floor of a building. I was eating my lunch with a colleague next to me when it happened. His response was to stand up, tell me there was an earthquake and ran out as soon as possible. While my response was to look at my plate and thought I should finish lunch before I did anything. So I sat while the earth shook and continued eating. God! I do not have a survivor instinct in me.
This other time while I was in the bathroom of Jeremie's brother's apartment. I just finished taking a bath, changed, and was about to go through my tone and moisturize routine when the fire alarm sounded. Jeremie kept knocking and telling me that we should get out. My response was to try to finish my routine as quickly as possible before getting out. I think I get obsessed sometimes about finishing something that it endangers my safety. Thank God it was a false alarm!
The incident in Bali was thankfully not critical. Everyone was safe and we managed to see the terraces on time. But if there's one thing I've learned, always be on your guard.