One good way to get around the island is through a car with a driver. I found a website that had decent cars that cost 280,000 IDR ($25) for a 5-hour rental and 450,000 IDR ($40) for a 10-hour rental. It doesn't sound too bad when you're traveling with 2 or 3 other people.
In my case, those prices are just way too much. What they fail to mention online is that there are a lot of kiosks in the streets of Ubud that have daily tours where you can just book at a per person rate. I don't really mind sharing the car with strangers, as long as it's inside my budget.
"You want tour? I give you good price!" the lady hands me a brochure and points at all the places I could go. I think for a while and wonder if she's scheming or not. Peeking at the list, I pointed to a random package, the Kintamani-Volcano tour.
"150,000" she says confidently and I try to convert the figure in my head. She gets her phone and starts talking to someone in her language. After that, she tells me that the tour is not available since there are no other people booking it so if I really wanted to take the tour, I would have to pay 250,000 IDR. "240,000" she gives me a discount when she notices me hesitating.
I decided against it and walked around to find another one. 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'll call someone to check if there was a car available for the next day.
The next day, I found myself in a car with 4 strangers from parts of the world. One man was from London, seating next to me was a man from Japan (but he didn't speak English. Either that or he was faking it to avoid small talks! hah!), a woman from Germany, and another woman (whose only name I got) Graziela from Brazil. They were all very nice and friendly and asked a few things about my country. In return I asked more about their countries too and the places they've been to. Everyone in the car was traveling alone and they also found it very convenient to share a car with other people.
I ended up in an altar where this guy 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 his table and it took me a minute to realize I was supposed to give him 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 me in the face. That was when I gathered all my strength, pulled myself away and ran.
Lesson learned. Never let your guard down. I let mine down thinking that this was a holy place. That was a big mistake. Still shocked, I searched for everyone else but didn't find any of them. So I breathed in and out and regained my composure.
The next place we went to was called Gunung Kawi rocky temple. To get there, we had to walk down a cement staircase with lush green scenery. It was too hot since it was almost 12. Glad I brought water with me or else I would've dehydrated.
Next, we went to Tampak siring where the Pura Tirta Empul can be found and the Holy Spring temple. I have seen some 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 the famous Luwak Coffee was grown. The beans came from a coffee plant called Arabica. The civet cats then ate the ripened beans, digested them in their stomach and when it came out as poop, they took it and cleaned it, roasted it, then ground it.
One sample cup of the coffee costs 50,000 IDR ($4.40). I was surprised that most of the group did not drink coffee! I'm not the only one. They preferred tea and didn't even like 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 decided the chances were small.
Unfortunately, the price for the Luwak Coffee was super expensive. At only 50 grams, I paid like 300,000 IDR ($27). I should've trusted my instincts and not buy the beans but I thought this was the only place we could buy them. The guy 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.
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 though and slightly expensive.
It was nice to just sit down and converse with the other people in the group while eating.
Graziela told me a lot about Brazil and the places that she visited here in Asia. We conversed about religion and growing up in our countries. The whole day has been interesting and I've learned so much from other people.