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We arrived in Bali in the sweltering heat at around 8pm. The streets were covered in scooters the way ants are all over a spilt drop of concentrated juice and the noise of honking horns was the only thing we heard. We had arrived in Denpasar, a very busy part of the island. As we drove on, the roads became quieter and people started dispersing, being replaced by huge trees and deep valleys with trickling streams. Our first stop of the beautiful island was Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali. Ubud is filled with artists, stone carvers, wood carvers and rice fields. It was a piece of heaven in our eyes. We stayed at the amazing Maya Ubud Spa and resort. I have never seen so much emerald green in my life. This hotel was probably the best looking hotel I have ever stayed in. You feel as if you are on a movie set or in a dream, everything about the resort is just beautiful, down to every little detail.

During our stay in Ubud, we frequently visited the streets of the inspiring village, stopping at beautiful little restaurants and more than eating, tasting the local drinks such as Bintang and Arak – both delicious. One thing that I was most looking forward to was visting the temples and the cultural parts of the island. So on our third day we visited the active volcano, the tea and coffee plantations (also seeing the famous Kopi luwak coffee and the Civet who produces it). For those of you who don’t know what this is – a Civet (although they call it a mongoose on the island) is fed coffee beans and excretes them, producing the most expensive coffee in the world…ummmmm ya, I didn’t taste it. We also visited the famous and amazingly beautiful rice fields – something everyone should see once in their lives – they were absolutely incredible.

One of the first temples we visited was the Goa Gajah or Elephant cave in English. At the entrance of the cave is a relief of various menacing creatures and demons carved right into the rock at the cave entrance. The primary figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname Elephant Cave. Inside the cave are various religious statues that are each given offerings and prayed to at least twice a day. Every religious statue in Bali is clothed and so, it makes it easier for tourists to know which to not touch or ask to buy…Religion is very important in Bali and outside every shop, restaurant, stall, house and hotel, are offerings to the ancestors and gods, filled with things that the deceased loved. So you’ll often walk by an offering (they are everywhere so you have to be careful not to step on them in the streets) and notice some cigarettes, rice, even honey or jam inside the offering. They then light an incense stick and let it smoke so that their loved ones can eat it all up. Once the smoke stops, it means they are finished eating.

From Ubud, our adventure carried on to Nusa Dua in the south of Bali, but we’ll save that for Part 2 🙂 Here are a few shots from this part of our beautiful trip.