Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Indonesia: Ayung River Whitewater Rafting, Temple Visits, Beach

For those who would like to read my Indonesia travelogue from the start, click these:

Are You Afraid of the Rapids?
It’s time to go whitewater rafting!!! My heart was racing the whole time we were on our way to Begawan, a two hour ride from Kuta. I remember the last time I did this kind of activity, I was only 28 years old, I had very strong knees and Peter was with me. The serpentine and wild current of Padas River in Beaufort, Malaysia was frightening and I didn’t even have a “live action” picture to remember that accomplishment of mine!  If it wasn’t for my goal of having my photo taken while whitewater rafting, I would’ve probably let this opportunity pass. My knees were still a little sore from my little Valentine accident at Subic’s Balloon Fest, and I was still traumatized by my near drowning incident in La Union. Furthermore, there was no Peter to save me!  Oh well, Jen’s gotta do what Jen is born to do — to be wild & carefree! Teehee.
Walking with a nervous smile all the way to Sobek station…

We availed of the unforgettable adventure via SOBEK, which is continually voted as Bali’s number 1 adventure experience  and service provider by tour agents and guests. I believe so too, especially after having done it with the most jovial tour guide and rafter ever! Our van had to take us to Sobek station but we had to do a bit of walking first. When we reached Sobek station, we changed into our rafting gears and again walked a few more kilometers.

AYUNG RIVER: Twenty-five Class II & III rapids make up the 11 kilometer descent. The Ayung River winds through the spectacular tropical rainforests and breathtaking waterfalls of Ubud.
 TELAGA WAJA: Sobek’s latest whitewater rafting adventure is 14 kilometers of action-packed rapids. Experience the beautiful jungle scenery of Bali as you wind through steep valleys and narrow gorges.
 Sobek’s rafting guides know the Ayung and Telaga Waja Rivers better than most because they were born, raised or live along the rivers. Their knowledge of the rivers and area’s history ensures your whitewater adventure is not only fun but interesting as well.
 Safety is priority with Sobek and their guides have been trained to the highest international rafting and rescue standards.”

I didn’t expect to be going down 509 steps on foot from Begawan to the rafting station. Jowi was already screaming like mad for lack of air and my legs were already shaking like crazy due to lack of exercise. It was only Lora who seemed quite fit to do these kinds of things. Thus, from then on, my resolve to continue with my exercises and to not eat rice. (Wish me luck!)
 After ten years of hiking down the steep cliff,  I can see the rafting spot at last!!!

After 20 minutes or so, we reached our 509th step, thank God!  By the river bank, the instructor gave us some tips on how to raft and how to NOT DROWN. Urk. My heart was beating so furiously by then and we haven’t even started yet! Argh. If before we left the hotel I was already a bit nervous, at that point I was  so ready to just say no to the whole thing! I was that distressed! Thug-thug…Thug-thug…Thug-thug…again went my heart.
I was very thankful for having had a very  playful boatman with us. He yelled forward and backward depending on our need to paddle and he brought our boat to nooks and places with falls so we can bathe (or maybe drown, hehe) under its heavy deluge. It was fun! Lora said the current wasn’t as wild and as high as the ones she experienced with Hailey 2 years ago. Thank God! There were even moments when I almost fell asleep or my mind would just wander especially during those calm  stretches of water.  Happiness!!! ^_^
Lunch at Ubud was prepared buffet style! Even if the food was not that good nor at par with my expectations, I managed to enjoy it. I needed the energy since we still had to hike 250 steps up before we reach the rafting office where we can take a shower, change clothes and buy our pictures. Yay! I must be so lucky coz I had two photos taken while whitewater rafting. It cost Rp70,000 (around Php350) each but I didn’t mind. I’d buy them at whatever cost. ^_^

Are You Afraid of Monkeys?

Next stop was at the Sacred Forest Monkey Sanctuary.  I didn’t think much of it at first. People call it Monkey Temple so I figured we’re going there to look at some cute and adorable monkeys. Little did I know that this particular activity was going to be such a terrible one!

We paid Rp15,000 each. Upon entering, I actually had a nice feeling about it. There was a long winding road in the middle of this forest and monkeys were scattered everywhere. They did look cute at first. But when I saw one grabbing and clutching Lora’s ass, I freaked out a bit! I continued with my photo taking, walking slowly so as not to provoke any madness from those wild monkeys around us. I thought as long as I didn’t have any food with me, they wouldn’t really bother me.
After some time, I gained a bit of self confidence and started taking photos of myself with them in the background. The first photo I took of myself looked a bit stiff (probably  coz I was still a little scared  from what happened to Lora) so I set the timer again, placed my Olympus digicam on top of this concrete wall and backed away in time to pose for the shot. To my surprise, as I was backing away from my camera, a monkey came out of nowhere and grabbed it way too fast for me to catch it! My first instinct was to really get it back until I saw its fangs staring back at me! I was horrified! I started screaming “Help! Help!” But nobody seemed to be around guarding these monkeys. We were all tourists there and they were as surprised as I was! I must’ve screamed for help a number of times before two older European guys aproached me and tried to get my camera back. Unfortunately, the monkey was very stubborn and fierce, I thought it would attack those poor old men! Then the bastard (the monkey) started scratching the LCD of my camera against the concrete wall. That didn’t seem to satisfy the bloody thing that it pounded it on the wall too! My God! I must’ve had a heart attack by then! My poor pictures!!! The camera I can replace but if my photos were to be damaged I would die, totally!!!
One second I was posing, the next second I was screaming…
I was already crying when I thought of giving a piece of brochure to those  men so they can use it as a distraction. They almost gave up but I pleaded with them. Until finally, one of them grabbed my camera as the monkey was doing tug-of-war with the other guy holding out the brochure. Whew!!! I immediately thanked them, praised them for being so kind and checked my photos. Thank God they’re okay and the camera seemed to be fine (it’s shock proof after all). That’s when I totally broke down out of emotional fatigue, horror and relief and went out of that horrendous monkey temple. I swear to never ever go back to that place EVER again!
This time, I visited a real temple…

We were in Ubud area and there was a temple nearby. So instead of heading back to our hotel, we managed to visit it for a while since our monkey temple activity was cut short. At that time,  I was still so distracted from what happened that I didn’t catch the name of this place (Ubud Temple according to google).
We had to pay Rp10,000 each for the piece of clothing we needed to wrap around our waist  since it’s their tradition or we wouldn’t be allowed entrance otherwise.  The inside did look pretty serene and there were some locals offering prayers. I just stayed quiet the whole time, tried to reflect for a bit then took some photos. I noticed that many of the stautues were covered with black & white cloth. I later learned that this symbolized Yin & Yang. Afterwards, it was time to head to our next destination.
Surprised by Conrad

I slept (again) during the entire ride back to Harris Hotel. We just freshened up a bit before we again headed out and went to Conrad Hotel to do some sunbathing. Again, I thought it’s just some dingy hotel in Bali. As it turned out, as ordinary as the name CONRAD sounded, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how extraordinary the resort was. It’s a five star resort after all and it looked like Plantation Bay and Shangrila Mactan in Cebu all rolled  into one.
I must say that Bali’s beaches still don’t match those white beaches in Boracay,BoholCebu and Palawan but the water is clean, the sand is beige and the waves were really perfect for surfing.  Plus, their seafood pizza was really awesome. I couldn’t complain.
Seafood, anyone?
The pizza we shared at Conrad Resort failed to satisfy my girlfriends’ appetite. I, on the other hand, was already full.  But I still accompanied them to this wonderful seafood place called Menega Cafe. They first bought fresh seafood at Ubung Cafe then they had it cooked by Menega. It’s pretty much the same set up as the one in d’Talipapa in Boracay. Even the ambience felt like I was just in Bora. ^_^ As for me, I just had fresh buko juice for my tummy. I was starting to experience constipation and I needed some remedy. Hehe. 
Coffee, Ritz or Tea…What?

Going back to Bali’s beaches, for lack of supreme sand quality, Bali beaches make up for it with their ginormous five star hotels. The second one we visited, for coffee this time, was the Ritz Carlton Hotel. All I said the first time I saw it was WOW!  It was beautiful in a classic way. No wonder my Texan boss before always wanted me to book him at Ritz Carlton every time he vacays. And there I was experiencing it for myself. C’est la vie! We promised to come back for more the next day.

I was ready to party but…
After coffee, we headed back to our hotel, freshened up a bit, hoping to catch some night life.  We headed out at around 1am, ready to drink and party only to find out that most of the bars have already closed. We should’ve checked out another part of the city outside Kuta where the night life was happening but we were all pretty tired  by then so we just stayed at Hard Rock Cafe for one drink. I had sex on the beach. Oh, how I wish that was literally true! ^_^
To see the entire photo album of this day’s events, please click:

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