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Friday, March 22, 2013

Whitewater Rafting!

It. Was. Awesome! 

I haven't laughed that hard in a long time (and that's saying something, because my husband makes me laugh quite a bit!)  We left our camera at the hotel and were bummed we weren't gonna have any photos of such a fun experience, but low and behold, there was a photographer who took the next 8 photos and sold them to us for $5 at lunch, which was totally worth it to us to have them as our memory!  They're cheesy, but we love them.

We had the best guide who was full of pranks and always laughing... and the funniest Chinese friends (from Shanghai) on our boat.  Before we headed off down the river, our guide taught us a couple important key phrases. When he said GET DOWN, we had to get on the floor of the boat as fast as we could. When he said BOOM BOOM, we had to put our heads between our legs and hold on for dear life.  As he was telling us these, my heart was beating out of my chest!  Then when he explained that if we didn't follow exactly what he said, the boat could tip over and it would be very dangerous, I almost jumped out and ran back to the taxi!

I'm obviously glad I didn't, because it ended up being one of the best experiences of our entire trip!

As I said before, our guide was a bit of a prankster... all in good fun of course. One of the girls couldn't swim and the guide pushed her out of the boat when it looked like the water was really deep, but it was only about a foot deep!  She was a great sport about it and we all died laughing.

He would steer our boat so that we would be going backwards really fast and ram us into a wall sending us flying backwards into each other's laps!  I know this sounds terrible for some of you, but we all laughed like little kids when it would happen. Or he would push our boat straight into a waterfall and yell "massage time" as it practically drowned us all!   

We rafted down the Ayung River for 2 full and exhilarating hours with stunning views of Indonesia's lushest jungles on either side, blue skies, waterfalls galore, stone carvings on the walls, and hardly anyone else on the river the entire time! Have I mentioned that I love being here during low season? Because I do! 
Between narrow ravines, double drops, and whitewater rapids, there were areas where the rocks would clear and it became a calm flowing river.  At those points our guide would let us jump in and float down the river next to the boat.  Thank goodness for those life jackets!

I made it to the end of the 10 kilometer trip with tired arms, sun kissed skin, and a perma-grin on my face!  I can't express how much I loved this trip and would recommend it to anyone heading to Ubud for vacation!

After getting out of the boat, we climbed 400 STEPS through rice terraces, up the side of the ravine, to a busy street where we were handed some water and a towel.  Then we followed our guide a couple minutes more and landed at the Payung Restaurant where we were able to take showers (yes, at the restaurant... weird, but kind of awesome too) and had a buffet Indonesian style lunch together before our taxi driver took us back to our hotel.  

Like I said...
 Today. Was. Awesome!

The Royal Water Palace and the Art Market!

It was a VERY lazy morning this morning. :)  That's what vacation are for though right?!  We left the hotel around 11am and headed for lunch at the vegan/vegetarian restaurant Bali Buddah, which was recommended to us by our friend Meg!  Bean burgers... yum!

We decided we wanted to try our hand at silver jewelry making (since it's the #1 thing to do in Ubud) and we had seen a silver making shop in the middle of nowhere a couple days ago during one of our drives, so we backtracked and made the trek back over there to check it out.  We were met by these 3 schmooches and their older sister who kept laughing and calling them "naughty boys"!  She called her dad, who makes the jewelry... He was out working in the rice fields and came up to meet us. Sadly, he doesn't offer classes but gave us directions to the two places that do offer them in Ubud, Perak Studio and Chez Monique. 

FYI: Perak Studios is $35 per person and you get 5 grams of silver.  Chez Monique is $40 per person and you get 10 grams of silver. We were too late to make today's class at Chez Monique, so we're scheduled to get some jewelry makin' done on Monday at 9:30am.  They charged us $40 total because we said we wanna make something together.  :)

Next stop was the Ubud Royal Water Palace - Puri Saren Agung.  

This was the palace of the Kings of Ubud until the 1940's and some of the royal descendants actually still live here.  It's the only temple that we went to that didn't have an entrance fee - another perk! :)  I LOVE this place.  

These doors lead into the worship area of the temple, which isn't open to the public for sightseeing, however if you're a Hindu and are interested in going in to worship, you're more than welcome to. 

I love finding flowers that I've never seen before!  Leave it to the Royal Palace to have such beautiful gardens.

What I would give to have been here when more of these beautiful lotus flowers were blooming in the pond!

One last photo for good measure... just to prove we were really there! :)

We went back to the hotel to cool off in the pool for a while.    

...and then got showered up and headed back to the Ubud Traditional Art Market for another round of perusing!

This time Aaron picked up a nylon hammock for $8.00 for us to use on our camping trip next month!

We finished off the day with a $2.00 dinner at this spot near the market.   I can't remember the name of it, but it's family owned and the food is fantastic, especially for the price!  The mom and grandmother do all of the cooking, and tonight we were in for a real treat!  The mom's 5 year old daughter not only professionally (yes, professionally) handed us our menus and bowed to us, she then danced around and sang while we ate. (sooo cute!)    

 After dinner we went next door to the tour agency and booked a whitewater rafting trip with a company called Payung for $20 each, instead of their usual $65 (including private air conditioned taxi to the river and back to our hotel, 2 hours of rafting with a trained guide, lunch and a shower)!  Man, I love traveling during the low season!