One good way to get around the island is via a car with a driver. I found a company that had rentals that ran between 280,000 IDR ($25) for five hours and 450,000 IDR ($40) for ten hours. It doesn't sound too bad when you're traveling with 2 or 3 other people. But in my case, those prices are way too much.
What the internet fails to mention is that there are a lot of kiosks in the streets of Ubud that give you the option to go on a tour where you can just book at a per person rate. I don't mind sharing a car with strangers, as long as it's within my budget.
"You want tour? I give you good price!" a woman handed me a brochure and pointed at all the places I could go. I considered it for a minute, wondering if this was a scam. Peeking at the list, I pointed to a random package, the Kintamani-Volcano tour.
"150,000," she said confidently. I quickly converted the figure in my head. While I was contemplating, she called someone on her phone and started talking in her language. Then she told me that the tour wasn't available since there were no other people booking it, and if I really wanted to take the tour, I would have to pay 250,000 IDR. "240,000!" she lowers the price when I failed to display a reaction.
Trusting my gut, I said no and walked around to compare other options. Long story short, I ended up going back to the guest house and saw Putu standing by the entrance. I asked him about the Kintamani-Volcano tour, and he said he could arrange it for me. I was excited. He told me the price was 150,000 and he'd call someone to check if there was a car available for the next day.
The next day, I found myself in a car with four strangers from different parts of the world. One man was from London, sitting next to me was a man from Japan (but he said he didn't speak English. Either that or he was faking to avoid small talks), a woman from Germany, and another woman (whose only name I remembered) Graziela from Brazil. They were all very friendly and was curious about my country. In return, I asked about theirs and the places they'd been to. Everyone in the car was traveling alone and found it very convenient to share a car with other people.
I ended up in an altar where this old man was praying. He gestured for me and a few others to kneel and pray, so I politely obliged.
As I was about to leave, he pointed at the pile of money on a table. It took me a minute to realize that he was asking for a donation. Not wanting any trouble, I placed a few thousand and started walking away. Before I could leave, the old man grabbed my hand and tried to smell it.
I tried to pull away, but he grabbed my head and almost kissed my face. That was when I gathered all my strength, pulled myself away, and ran.
Did that old man just molest me? And why didn't the other white women help me? They saw what he was about to do, but they left in a hurry, leaving me alone. Way to go humans.
I let my guard down thinking that I was in a holy place. That proved to be a big mistake. Still shocked, I searched for everyone else but didn't find any of them. So I went to an empty spot, breathed in and out, and regained my composure. I said nothing about the incident to my other tourmates.
The next place we went to was called Gunung Kawi rocky temple. To get there, we had to walk down a cement staircase with a lush green scenery. It was too hot since it was almost 12. I brought a bottle of water with me that kept me hydrated.
Next, we went to Tampak siring where the Pura Tirta Empul can be found and the Holy Spring temple. I have seen videos and photos about the place, so I was excited to finally see it personally.
It felt like being on a field trip! We went to a big plantation where they grew the famous Luwak Coffee. The beans come from a coffee plant called Arabica but what makes it special is its process. The civet cats eat the ripened beans, digest them in their stomach, and when it comes out as poop, the farmers collect, clean, roast, and finally grind the beans.
A sample cup costs 50,000 IDR ($4.40). I was surprised that most of the group didn't drink coffee! I'm not alone. They preferred tea and skipped the sugar.
I loved the cocoa and the coconut tea. So delicious. The only thing I didn't like was that we had to share the sample cups with everyone else. I'm a little paranoid about catching something from strangers, but I convinced myself the chances were small.
Unfortunately, the price for the Luwak Coffee was crazy expensive. For 50 grams, I paid 300,000 IDR ($27). I should've trusted my instincts and not buy the beans but thought this was the only place we could get them. The man told me that the ones sold in the supermarket are mixed with other beans and his was the only ones that were 100% Luwak Coffee. Should've done more research.
For the last stop, we ate lunch at a restaurant on top of a mountain that had a great view of Mount Batur. The air was cold and it was a good way to relax after an entire day of walking under the heat. The food was meh and slightly expensive. I guess that's the downside of joining tours.
It was nice to sit down and chat with everyone in the group. Graziela shared stories about Brazil and the places she visited here in Asia. We conversed about religion and growing up in our countries.