We looked into various guided bike rides and treks in advance of our trip, but ultimately decided to wing it once we arrived—not being one hundred percent sure of how easy or difficult each day with Hudson may be. In general, we tended to try and be more carefree about when and where he napped than we would be at home and that worked out really well. He might fall asleep a bit later, or sleep for a shorter time, but he got to be pretty good at napping on the go.
One day, following a description of the Campuhan Ridge walk we found in our Rough Guide, we asked Nyoman to drop us at the Ibah hotel near Campuhan bridge and then pick us up where the path rejoined the road. A man was waiting near the top, beside the hotel, looking for guide-work. At first we were going to decline, it sounded easy enough, but he convinced us that the trail could be a bit tricky and we got a good feeling about his character. We negotiated a rate (still hoping we weren’t being mislead) and started down an incredibly steep path toward the Agung river.
I was so glad that Aron felt comfortable carrying Hudson on his back for the walk, and even he admitted that it was incredibly nerve-wracking at times. Ultimately, we were so glad we had a guide, even if just because there was someone else to occasionally lend me a hand when Aron needed both of his. He was also so kind as to take our bag for the descent.
Once at the bottom, we were passed by a river raft of tourists who, as soon as they all started waving, ran right into the side of the river. But really the river was pretty gentle this time of year.
It was a fantastic walk, once we got over the steep climb down, and the guide turned out to be fantastic. So often, when we end up taking a tour or having a guide, I look back and wonder why I hadn’t sought one out sooner. It can add so much.
The temperature in Ubud in August was pretty heavenly. It rarely felt unbearably hot, but we were always more warm than cool (just the way I like it). The sun was intense, however, and we would sometimes pull out an umbrella to shade Hudson on rice paddy walks.
On another occasion, Nyoman drove us south to the Bali Bird Park, which turned out to a complete surprise highlight. We would never have thought to visit something like this, but it was recommended over and over—especially for families. The grounds are really lovely and there are tons of interesting birds to see in large, well-tended aviaries. Hudson loved it (after he grew accustomed to all of the scary, loud sounds from all the birds) and we enjoyed the chance to keep him out of the carrier for a morning where he could more or less run free.
These traditional homes are constructed using no nails or pegs. Isn’t that incredible?
We saw a few of these iPhone sized spiders while in Bali. They were so creepy! But we were assured there are no poisonous spiders on the island. I haven’t confirmed that, but I hoped it was true.
There’s a nice open-air cafeteria as you come in, where guides often would come through with parrots. We loved that it featured a huge, fenced-in playspace so that adults could relax over their meals while children played. So nice!
Of course, one other thing I will always remember about the bird (and reptile park) is less positive: it will always be the place where Hudson ran toward the Komodo dragon enclosure, fell, chipped his tooth (and shed about two tears before he got up and started running again).
Many of our side trips involved visiting temples. But we also happened to continue the bird-watching theme in the village of Petulu. Every night around sunset, hundreds of herons return to roost in the trees and it was supposed to be quite a scene. Maybe it was the Bird Park, but I found it a little underwhelming.
Actually, the most entertaining bit was learning just how deep the mud in those rice fields is. Thank you, Aron!
Finally, Ubud is known to host a variety of musical performances, with Gamelan troupes from all over, and we made sure to see a couple. (You could catch a different show every night of the week, just check the schedules with the tourist office.)
Our first experience was in Batubulan with the Barong drama, said to have the most elaborate costumes.
This was on one of our first days with Nyoman, and Hudson wasn’t so sure of him yet.
But Nyoman’s friendly demeanor won out quickly.
Another night we kept Hudson up late to see Kecak along with a fire dance. I think it was my favorite.
I’m sure there are tons more things we could have done or seen (especially without a toddler), but it was incredible how full each day felt and how badly we wished we could have stayed even longer.
Coming soon: Permuteran, the Gili Islands, and Seminyak.