The swimming pool is a real Instagrammer dream – a long rectangle of blue-green water stretching out from the hotel towards to edge of the ravine, with sunbeds and parasols lined up neatly down one side. And the staff were amazingly friendly – all the locals we spoke to in Bali were beautiful people.
The weather is different in Ubud to the main beaches in the south. It gets a much higher rainfall due to the altitude and we didn’t glimpse blue sky for the entire time we were there, despite it being ‘dry season’ when we travelled. Don’t go expecting to sunbathe for a week by the pool, we managed to squeeze in a few hours here and there to relax and cool off, but you’ll probably be a busy as we were anyway – there is so much to see and do in this little bit of jungle.
On our first full day we caught a taxi back into Ubud and wandered around the shops and town, and headed down to the Monkey Forest Ubud, just a short walk out of the centre. It only costs a couple of pounds to enter – you don’t need to book a tour or anything, just turn up when you like. The monkeys are free to roam around at their will – they are not caged or tied up, and in fact are even found wandering around on the streets nearby. Words of warning – don't bring any food or drink in with you, and I'd be careful with things like sunglasses that could be easily snatched away. The monkeys are basically tame but will become aggressive if you stare them in the eyes! We took a bottle of lemonade in with us and put it down to take some photos when an opportunistic primate sneaked up and grabbed the bottle and scuttled away with it. We thought that would be it – he'd have a sniff and get bored and leave it alone, but he quickly proceeded to unscrew the cap with great dexterity and guzzled the full bottle right in front of us.
The next morning, we woke up really early, ready to be picked up by a driver at two o clock. We drove for around an hour in the dark before being deposited at the foot of Mount Batur, ready to begin the hike to the summit in time for sunrise. It is an incredibly popular trip, but you do have to be of a reasonable level of fitness to complete the climb – the terrain is steep and rocky, and it typically takes around two hours to reach the summit. You will be arranged into groups of around four hikers to each guide, and your guide will ask how fast you want to hike – unfortunately for me I was in a group with my now-husband, who enjoys any physical challenge, and two young German guys who’d clearly spent a good deal of time in the gym. If it had not been for our amazing guide practically carrying me up the mountain for a good portion, then I do not think I'd have made it at that pace!
The vista at the top is worth the few hours of burning muscles. If you’re lucky enough to hike on a clear day, then you will be rewarded with a view of dawn breaking over Mount Rinjani on neighbouring Lombok. The guides cook breakfast while you watch the sunrise – a cup of black tea and a meal of eggs and banana sandwiches, both cooked in the volcanic steam which vents from little fissures at the edge of the crater.
You can spend around an hour at the top to rest, refuel and take photos of the sunrise – this hour lives in a special place in my memory as it’s the moment my husband decided to propose. Of course, I said yes!