One of the places that I wanted to visit while in Bali was the scenic temple called Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. It is a temple built on a lake with mountains surrounding it.
I made plans with Graziela to see it along with Besakih (the mother temple) as it is 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 while going there seemed too terrifying for a newbie solo traveler like me. It seemed like a very risky plan.
Researching in between work, I decided to just take a shared tour as it seemed cheaper and safer. Plus I would be able to meet new people. So it was set. The tour was called "Tanah lot Sunset tour" or something like that. I paid Putu, from Junggut Inn and it was set for the next day.
In the car with me were 4 other people--the driver, a couple whose names I still 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 sunset since the weather was gloomy. I was half-disappointed but told myself I was there for the lake temple not the sunset.
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 and it was very serene. The monkeys there, however, were clearly more aggressive. They said it is because not a lot of people visited the forest so the monkeys were not as used to humans than in Ubud which has hundreds of people daily.
As we stepped down the car, I see 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.
As I enter the forest, I was humbled by the size of the trees that stood in front of me. Looking up, I was surrounded by hundreds of giants that were all looking down at me. And it felt like they were whispering to one another while observing the tiny visitors.
Still stoked, I didn't realize I was already near the temple. A man who worked in the forest approached us with a smile. He was very friendly and nice but was very insistent. 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 mutually not interested in getting close to the monkeys so we kept saying no. Again, I am not a fan of monkeys.
Some of the monkeys were very mischievous; Jumping around. But there were also timid ones who just sat and watched like behaved human beings.
Forest. Endless trees. Oh, I wanted to stay longer but the driver told us we only had 30 minutes here. This is what I really don't like about tours. There's a time limit to everything. But who am I to complain? It was the only way I could see the lake temple with my tight budget.
Mother monkey carrying her baby.
And here's another baby monkey playing in the pool of leaves.
I didn't get a lot of pictures in this temple because we were busy talking. I learned that the couple worked in the tourism industry in Europe. Their job is to travel to places in Europe whenever their services are needed. Plus they can request to travel on their assignment as a couple. Who wouldn't want to travel and get paid doing it while being with your significant other?
This is the only photo I have of the temple. There is a ceremony going on inside.
I knew what to expect when we got to the plantation. However, I did not expect to see that the Luwak coffee price here is half the price that I paid on my visit to the other plantation a few days back. It was incredibly frustrating to realize that I was being fooled into buying the coffee at twice the price. The guy there 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. I just love cocoa!
As we were about to head back to the car, I noticed something weird at the corner of my eye. I investigated and 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!
Honestly, I wasn't overly excited to see the terraces. But it was part of the tour so I had to go with the flow. We climbed up a mountain and see 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 happened.
This! Holy crap!
I had that strange feeling in my stomach and had no idea what to do. I was calm but was confused on what to do. Should I go down the car? Should I stay? We were close to falling. I don't want to fall! The recent bus accident in Northern Luzon flashed through 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 they practice left-hand driving, my side was the safe side. I got out the car and examined the damage.
Some people noticed 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 realize I am too calm, I don't do anything to save myself.
It reminds me of the time a massive earthquake occurred in Cebu while I was on the 8th floor of the building. I was eating my lunch and next to me was an office mate also eating when it happened. His response was to stand up, tell me there was an earthquake and got out as soon as possible. While my response was to look at my plate and think I should finish this first before I do anything. So I sat while the earth shook and continued eating. God! I do not have a survivor instinct in me.
Also another 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 though.
Crazy stories indeed. After everything was settled, we went to see the rice terraces.