Elephant Safari Park.

Upon checking out of Ubud and moving to Sanur we went to the Elephant Safari Park, which is on the outskirts of Ubud, about 30 mins from our hotel. A very expensive experience but well worth the money. This is a hotel/elephant rescue park and had I known about it before we came I would of booked us in to stay there. It was a very early 5.30am start but we got to clean and scrub the elephants with hoses and scrubbing brushes, then it was our turn to ride the elephants into the lake and take them for a swim, we had been prewarned to bring a change of clothes! This was then followed by a warm shower and a buffet breakfast. After that we had a 30 minute safari on the elephants around the grounds and finally they showed us some of the things they’d taught the elephants to do; painting, hula hooping and kicking footballs. 
I did my research before booking this as there’s a lot of stuff out there warning you not to do these things because the elephants are mistreated however at the Elephant Safari Park in Taro, Ubud all the 31 elephants are rescued Sumatran elephants who are treated with such devotion by their trainers. The elephants range from 4 to 54 years old and 4 babies have been born there so far. It was definitely worth getting up early as we were one of the first families in the park and could spend quite a while on each activity, whereas when we came to leave around midday it was much busier and queues were starting to form. 

Exploring Ubud. 

Once the sickness bug was over and done with we could finally get out and do some exploring. 

Our hotel runs a shuttle 6 times a day back and forth to the centre so we have mainly just used that to get in and out. Blue bird taxis don’t really operate in Ubud but you can still order them via the app they just may take a while to come. The other options you notice when you are in central Ubud is men holding taxi signs up everywhere and as we are 2 pasty white Brits we get asked every 10 steps if we want one! What you do have to be careful about these ones is that they may mean to provide their taxi service via moped not car! 

First off we hit Ubud Markets near at the top of Jl. Monkey Forest. This was a good fun way to spend an hour bartering for tourist tat, from Bintang t-shirts to bottle openers – watch out grandparents it’s coming your way! There’s also some obsession with tourist tat in the shape of a penis! Necklaces, pens, wooden statues, you name it and there’s one in a penis shape! 

Jl. Monkey Forest is a great road to amble along, probably just over a mile and it leads down to the entrance of the monkey forest. There are loads of cafes, bars, restaurants, spas and shops. Faye found a great little shop that sells DVDs for 50p each so she treated herself to a few for the hotel room. She also saw a fish spa and was desperate to give it a try! 

With a lot of the eateries it’s easy to think from the outside that it doesn’t look much but once you go inside it’ll have the most amazing view of a rice field of river out the back. There are so many to choose from!

The monkey forest itself was an experience. It costs around £2 to enter and is a circular 2km route of which there are about 600 monkeys in. Both Faye and I were a little fearful as they jump out of nowhere and we didn’t want them to jump on us! You can buy bananas in the forest but as soon as you do the monkeys will be jumping on you to snatch them away. You have to be careful with sunglasses and bags as they won’t hesitate to grab them and once they do you won’t be getting them back! 

Balinese dance performances occur every night in Ubud centre. It’s a bit like the West End. There’s about 8 shows on in different temples that alternate every night in and around Monkey Forest road. A ticket is about £4.50 and the show lasts about 90mins. There’s a few different shows to watch, ours was Legong and Berong. They have a full live orchestra and a number of different dances telling a story. The costumes were great, but it was probably a little too long for Faye. 

One afternoon we took a walk down to Campuhan Ridge to admire the view and there’s a lovely restaurant down there called Bridges which we had a tasty tapas meal in overlooking the ridge. 

Our hotel were great at offering us lots options for activities so on Saturday we took them up on there offer of a driver to take us on a tour on some different areas. We went to Tegenungan waterfall, Elephant Cave Temple, Holy Spring Temple, Wood Carving Centre, Coffee & Chocolate Plant, Mount Batur Volcano and to a Rice Terrace. This was a great day, we saw loads! There was a lot of steps to climb! Faye is at a good age for all this, any younger and I think we would of struggled because there is a fair amount of walking and climbing and I can’t carry her anymore! The waterfall we visited I believe made the news as a couple of people died there recently but we were told by our guide that was because they tried swimming in it despite all the signs everywhere telling you not to! You could see the force of the water from standing nearby so you’d be crazy to try and swim near it! The coffee and chocolate plant was a really good experience which Faye enjoyed. They explain everything they grow and give you a tasting of 6 coffees, 6 teas and 4 chocolate bars. Faye really enjoyed the Wood Carving Centre and has since declared it’s what she wants to do when she’s older!! 

Another point to note is that there aren’t really many pavements when walking around Ubud. The ones there are are very very uneven, some with huge holes that drop down 3ft, it’s not somewhere you’d want to manoeuvre a pushchair around! It’s done Faye good in the sense of paying attention when crossing the roads as you are constantly on and off the pavement, if there is one as they aren’t wide enough for two people to pass. Your watching for the unevenness of the ground, pedestrians, mopeds and offerings on the ground all the time. 

Also in Ubud we’ve been to Bali Zoo and had breakfast with the Orangutans as well as elephants and parrots. You get a table for breakfast overlooking the elephant bathing pool and get called up to meet the Orangutan’s. There are also a couple of elephants by the breakfast area which you can go and see. Faye loved this experience but it was pretty expensive and a very early start! 

Towards the end of our Ubud stay we went and spent the day at Jungle Fish pool club. This was a gorgeous setting with an infinity pool looking out into the trees and the food was really tasty! Faye spent the whole day in the pool with a new friend she’d made! 

Can highly recommend our hotel, Bali Spirit, the location was great, the setting was like nothing I’d been to before and the staff were lovely. Added bonus was we both got an hours balinese massage each which was FAB! Faye’s never had anything like this before as in England children aren’t really allowed but she laid down for the whole hour and thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Ubud

We arrived in Ubud Sunday afternoon via taxi. On the journey over it became apparent the driver didn’t know where he was headed. Luckily in my bag I had a little map, the full address and phone number of our next hotel which I gave to driver. After a few circles round and him telling me to “look, look” for the hotel he rang the reception a number of times and a few heated discussions later we arrived! 

Our hotel is about a 10 minute drive from the centre. Most things seem to be in and around Monkey Forest Street. We were greeted with cocktails, a shoulder rub and a complimentary upgrade. They’ve given us the honeymoon suite here which is fab and is huge, 2 floors so we can have a floor each! Not sure if they realised I was coming with a 7 year old! 
Ubud is forest, rivers and rice fields as its central to the island. It’s a completely new feel for Faye as she’s usually been used to more beach-based vacations. 

The weather is Ubud is different to Seminyak it can shower at any time, so useful to have an umbrella with you! It’s a consistent 28 degrees which is nice, even when round the pool and it’s raining it’s nice and warm! In the evening’s it cools a few degrees as there’s a gentle breeze through the mountains (not enough to need a jumper) but it’s nice that you can turn your air con off in the rooms. I find a/c gives me a sore throat after a while! 

Traffic in Ubud equally as awful as Seminyak but the hotel shuttle driver seems to know lots of back routes to get round the bulk of it. Again probably the best way to get around is via moped but I’m just not brave enough to do it!!

The people in Ubud also seem to be a different crowd, Seminyak was prodominatly Australian tourists whereas Ubud has a much wider span of ages and nationalities. A lot of French speaking. This will be down to the fact you don’t come to Ubud to party it is very chilled. 

Within the first 48 hours of arriving in Ubud I was hit was an awful sickness bug so we didn’t get a lot done, but thankfully for wifi Faye did lots of FaceTime’s to friends and family back home to occupy her whilst I was ill and the staff from the restaurant were great at bringing me toast!