Vietnam : Hội An – Day 585 – Eat, beach, and the Bridge of Light

After 2 days in Saigon, my mom and I took a plane to Danang for our next destination, Hoi An.

Hoi An is located in Central Vietnam and most people visit Danang, Hoi An, and My Son together.  Danang has since become an international resort area, where the coastline is lined with 4 or 5 stars hotels (too expensive for me).  It is also where most people would fly-in by plane since it is the only place in central Vietnam that has an international airport.

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Hoi An is 30-50 minutes away from Danang airport by car (time depends on traffic).  On our way, we passed by the Marble Mountains before getting to our hotel.  

Hoi Ai was a large commercial port, where boats from Japan and China came in and out with goods.  Therefore, much of the ancient town has lots of Japanese and Chinese influence.  Visitors wanting to see more of Vietnamese architecture and culture should head north to Hue.

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My hotel in Hoi An

Hoi An has lots of many nice villas and we booked one called Riverside Oasis Villa.  For about $25 US a night, we got a nice room and free bike rentals.  There wasn’t any breakfast but they let us rent the bikes for free.

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The first task after checking in is finding food.  The villa is some 30 minutes from the ancient town (by foot), so we decided to eat nearby.  The area is actually the town of Hoi An.  It is away from the tourists and prices are cheaper.  We didn’t walk far before we were met with street vendors selling food.  First, we got a sandwich and then ordered a congee.

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… and then we went back to the cool air conditioned room and chilled out until later in the day.

Near dinner, we walked out a little further to find more food.  We passed by a restaurant and decided to walk in.  The place sells chicken rice, which is famous in Hoi An.

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The price was about 50 000 dong but it was so big that even though it was shared between my mom and I, we were quite full.  The lady at the restaurant was also quite friendly.

The chicken soup was complimentary and it was quite delicious.  I ordered an ice coffee.

The lady at the restaurant said we can walk to the Cua Dai Beach, possibly the closest and the only beach that doesn’t have a resort in front of it.  She said it was about 10 minutes but it took over 30 minutes!  On the bright side, we walked by a few fields during sunset and it was gorgeous.  I much rather remember this Hoi An than the ancient town.

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Finally!  We .. crossed the Phuroc Trach Bridge and we can see our destination .. kinda!  After passing the fields, it seems like this was another place, with spas, restaurants, and stores catering to beachgoers.  Some people stay here for 4-5 days or more just to relax and chill at the beach.

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By the time we arrived at the beach, the sun was setting and locals were ready to go home.

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However, I can see why lots of locals and tourists love to come here and enjoy the sand and sun.

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…. I guess it is time to go!  They don’t have Vinasun (or possibly Grab) in Hoi An, so we took MaiLinh, another taxi but I don’t think it is as good.  We went straight to Hoi An’s ancient town to visit the Bridge of Light at night.

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At night time, there were so many people on the streets as well as at the bar watching the World Cup.  No photos can be taken without a stranger in it.

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Visitors can also take a boat and go down the river watching lanterns above and the candle lights below.  People can also make a wish by lighting a candle and setting it down the river.

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We ordered a tofu pudding and sat on the road side.  The lady there was not as nice but perhaps it is because she sees too many foreigners (although none of the menu had English…).

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The lights on the alley shines brilliantly!

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There were also some live performances on a made shift stage 🙂

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…. and that was the end of the day for us.  We head back to the villa to sleep so we can wake up early to see the sunrise.

June 19 2018

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Vietnam : Hồ Chí Minh – Chợ Lớn – Day 584 : Eating and Eating

Second day in Vietnam was a slightly longer day but it just consists of eating, eating, and more eating 🙂

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some type of rice cake

The awesome thing about Southeast Asia is that they usually take their breakfast very seriously.  There are lots of street vendors opened early and the food they make are thing I normally eat for lunch and dinner like rice, noodles, congee etc …

img_20180618_091604169My mom’s friend brought us to the nearby Phung Hung Market where there are lines of food street vendors on one end, followed by fruit sellers, butchers, and fishmongers.

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There are also street vendors selling clothes, shoes, and everything you can think of.

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noodles with meat and pig blood.

 

We had so much food … we even got dessert.

We walked around the market and then went to visit some nearby temples.  We were still in Cholan, which is the Chinatown of Hanoi.  Therefore, there are a lot of Chinese temples and he most famous being Ba Thien Hau Temple.

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The temple is dedicated to Mazu, a Fujian deity who is also known as the Lady of the Sea.  Fishermen and those relying on the sea for their livelihood prays to her.  The temple was built in the 18th century.

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The temple is located next to a Chinese school that is still being used by the local children.  It is now known as Mach Kiem Hung school.

We dropped by a small fruit shop where many delicious tropical fruits were sold. I ordered an avocado juice, which was so creamy and delicious.  One cup was about $1 US.

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Across the street from this stand was another market but we didn’t go in as these markets are often very cramped.

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The next temple we visited was called the Chùa Nghĩa An. 

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It the temple for Guan Gong.  He’s was one of the generals in the Three Kingdoms and was a skilled fighter.  Therefore, police and gangsters alike both pray to him (from the Hong Kong action dramas I watch anyways).

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I’m still getting use to the humidity, the heat and the onslaught of traffic that never seems to stop.

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The heat forced us indoors again where we pretty much stayed until later in the day.  We did go to a nearby coffee shop called Rio Garden Coffee where we just .. chilled with our cold drinks.  The coffee shop was near where we stayed and it’s designed like a garden.  The prices were a little higher than usual but it kept us cool. Addy: 78-80-82 Tản Đà, P. 11, Quận 5,

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My mom’s friend continues to show us around Saigon, this time taking us to Cho An Dong (or An Dong Market).

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Inside, they sell many things like clothes, souvenirs, dried food .. everything.  We can also bargain with them 🙂

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My mom seemed to be kind of big on this durian cake, so she bought boxes and boxes of them….

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Outside are also a few street vendors and we ended up buying a banh mi, even though we weren’t that hungry.

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Speaking of food, dinner came and my mom wanted to try this place called Huong Rung Buffet because we heard it has lots and lots of seafood.

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It’s true! They had crabs, fish, and oysters but the coolest thing was the fetus egg. I can officially cross this items on my ‘need to try’ list.

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The final stop of the day was the Ho Chi Minh Square. The square is surrounded by French Style buildings, which isn’t too common in Saigon (compared with Hanoi).

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At the end is the opera house and also a statue of Ho Chi Minh.

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The square is a non-vehicle zone and people can walk around the plaza freely.  There is even a fountain that goes off and sometimes get unsuspecting people wet.

Ok .. actually the last stop was the Da Lat Coffee Shop.  It looks more like a bar than a café and it is suppose to imitate Da Lat’s natural attractions .. like waterfalls.

img_20180618_220208529….  July 18 2018 🙂

 

Vietnam : Ho Chi Minh City – Day 583 – Arrival & Remnant War Museum

Leaving Korea and heading to Vietnam for a month.  I bought a ticket from Seoul to Ho Chi Minh for $125 via Vietjet. Excitement .. maybe.  I have been looking forward to this trip for a while …

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So… I got on a bus at 6 PM and got there late at night.  My plane is at 6:45 AM so I had to check-in by 4:45 AM.  Thank goodness for the world cup!  The world cup was on so there was something to watch while I waited.

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ewwwww airline food.

I got on the plane and was completely lacking in sleep.  I bought a meal, which I regretted.  The service was TERRIBLE.  They made an announcement that they were going to collect garbage and when I handed to the flight attendant, he ignored me.  Water also costs money .. so 5 hours of thirst.

I was supposed to meet my mom at the Ho Chi Minh airport.  We were going to arrive within 30 minutes of each other.  She was coming from Hong Kong.  I tried to reach her via the ‘free wi-fi’ but the wifi doesn’t work! Luckily, I found out where her baggage claim belt was so I met her there.

Leaving the airport, hot humid air greeted us.  We waited for the taxi and saw many people just run to the back and snatched a taxi before it reaches the people in line…. so we did the same!  Got to learn the rules I guess…

We were staying at my mom’s friend’s place, which had an extra room.  The room had its own bedroom and it was great. air con in full blast 🙂

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My mom’s friend owns a small restaurant and they showered us with so much food!!! The photos are in my mom’s phone but they were delicious.

The weather was so hot that we went back to the apartment and just stayed there. At 3:30 PM, my mom’s friend came and took us around town.  I wanted to go to the War Remnant Museum although I didn’t expect them to come with me.

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We arrived at the museum by taxi. The apartment is located just across from the Vinasun Taxi office, so there were taxis around the area all the time.

The Museum was old but was quite comprehensive and nicely curated.  It was mainly regarding the Indochina War and Vietnam War.  There were photos and artefacts from the two wars.

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The museum was created from Vietnam’s point of view but I think it wasstill quite educational.  Far too often, I only read from the Americans point of view from my history books.  The section dedicated to photojournalist from all over the world, who covered the war, and there works were quite interesting.  It also had a section about the effects of Agent Orange, a toxin sprayed over the countryside by the Americans.  Even after all this time, it still affects many of the villagers residing in the countryside.

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Outside of the museum were tanks and helicopters captured by the Vietnamese.

Admission is 40 000 dong per person and locals don’t get discounts.  On hindsight, this museum is a lot better than some of the ones in Hanoi 😛

We walked to the nearby Independence Palace but it closes at 4 PM, so we just took a picture outside.

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Nearby is also the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the Post Office building that was build in the 19th century and finally the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon.  The latter was also build in the 19th century by the French with French bricks and two bell towers.

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The sky was getting dark and the wind started blowing harder.  Before we knew it, the rain came down – hard.  We tried to get into a taxi to go to the famous Ngon Restaurant but the taxi driver told us that it is too close so we were asked to get off.

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We still made it to the restaurant by foot, even though we were slightly wet from the ordeal.

In this restaurant, guests could walk around the sides and see how they make the food  or if there was anything delicious they want to try.  Naturally, my mom did her rounds.

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For three people, we ordered quite a bit of food.  I just sat there while my mom ordered.  I don’t know what they were but they weren’t bad tasting.  The atmosphere was nice, but I don’t think it was that special.  It was a little bit more expensive than other restaurants and there was a 10% service fee.

… and that was it for my first day in Vietnam.

July 17 2018.

Bali : Ubud – Day 23 – Ubud Monkey Forest & Afternoon Tea

My last day in Bali! I had a red eye flight so I have a whole day still.

As usual, I got breakfast in bed! The home stay I was at costs $25 but the bed and washroom was quite nice. I loved it. It was called Desak Putu.

I also tried getting an airport shuttle to the airport in the morning by going to the company called Perama, but I was told if it is just me then.. no. I went back to the hotel to arrange one for me.

Next stop, I went to the Monkey Sanctuary. I was told that the monkeys there are smart and tricky. If they know you have food, they will come and try to snatch it away.

My friend also said that some are trained by someone to steal wallets. I didn’t bring any food just in case. Here’s a list of all the things you can do.

The money sanctuary was quite big. The monkeys can run around and play with their friends…

In addition to the monkeys, the sanctuary has walking path and natural surrounding.

This is my favorite picture and I use it for my cell phone wallpaper. The monkey is a little older and perhaps just wants some time alone. I creeped up and the monkey turned around just in time!

Monkeys here are not afraid of people. If we have food, they like us but if we don’t… They ignore us 🙂

It was a nice walk and after the monkey sanctuary, I went to have afternoon tea at the SENS hotel nearby. Every time I walked by, I see an advertisement so I went to check it out 🙂

It is actually a buffet. So I eat as many as my stomach can fill.

I hanged.ot at the home stay until.my taxi arrive. The Denpensar Airport was a little stuffy and there wasn’t much to do …. A lot of it is outdoors and I just found a bench to sit there until I can check in …until 12 am …

Goodbye Southeast Asia … For now…

November 30th 2016.

Bali : Ubud – Day 22 – Rainy Season and the Blanco Renaissance Museum

Unfortunately, November is Bali’s rainy season, which is great for farmers but not that wonderful for travellers.

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Breakfast in Bed

I bought a drink and they gave me free mini bananas.  The abundance of bananas in Indonesia ….

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I wanted to do many things like take a bus to the beach or do another day trip but it was not feasible with the rain.  Instead, I went to a nearby museum and then just pampered myself with a new haircut and manicure.

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The first attraction I went to was the museum and the former house of artist, Don Antonio Blanco.  Born in the Philippines, he lived and made art in Bali.

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The museum requires an admission of 50 000 rupiah.  There is a large garden and some structures on the outside and the inside of his large beautiful house were many of his artworks hanging on the walls.

The house is perched high above and has a wonderful view of the town below.

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I couldn’t take pictures inside the building so there were none .  I did remember this girl asking how much on the paintings costs because she’s interested in taking them home … the paintings are quite expensive.

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Next stop … spa! I booked a ful body scrub at a spa near the museum.

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They served me a small snack while I waited at the lounge.

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The spa was quite good and I left feeling clean and refreshed, especially after a long one month trip running around Southern Asia.

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The weather changes quite quickly in Bali.  It may be nice in the morning but it can rain in the afternoon.  I booked a hair appointment that day.  Bali isn’t known for good haircuts … I just booked it  because my hair was long and doesn’t feel good in the heat.

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The haircut works out to $12 Canadian.

Tada!

She wasn’t the best hair stylist in the world and I felt as though my hair wasn’t even.  Oh wellz…

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I had a bit of time, so I also got my nails done too.  um.. yeah … my nails were too short.

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I went to a local restaurant and had a wonderful dinner for cheap price.

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Finally, I went shopping and got a lot of daily necessities to head for my next destination.

November 30 2016.

 

 

 

Bali : Ubud – Day 21 – Biking in the paddy fields & Drinking the world’s most expensive coffee

I signed up for a half-day tour at the guesthouse for my second day in Bali.  It was a small-sized tour that took us to see paddy fields and a Luwak coffee plantation before we biked around the countryside to visit local homes, through paddy fields and end with a Bali-style lunch.

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The day started early and bright with a car ride around the countryside.  We got off for 5 minutes to check out the gorgeous paddy fields.  I think it is the Tegalalang Rice Terrace.

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The tropical trees and the straw huts … the weather was so nice I thought I was going to get a sun burn.

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One of my better panorama shots!

We got back into the car to visit the first attraction – Bas de Atayaba (I love Bas Agrotourism).  The farm planted a lot of tropical (and to me, exotic) fruits like durian.

However, the main reason why we are here is to see the civet cat.  It is the local animal, famous for their digested coffee beans.

Some people thought it was a bit cruel that the cat was in a cage but the guide said they are treated them better than others who just see them as a cash-making machine.

The coffee beans are digested and .. came out naturally.  The coffee beans are heated and separated before being made into coffee …. ?

We were then invited to have breakfast there.  We got pancakes and free sample tasting!

I paid a little extra to try the Luwak Coffee.  I’m not very good at coffee tasting … I know when the coffee is instant or when it has too much water but other than that … the taste wasn’t particularly memorable.

I think I tried to take some driving photos.

We did another stop where we can see the view of Mt. Kintamani, an active volcano in Bali.  There are tours where people can hike up the active volcano, but it leaves around 3 or 4 AM.

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… then we got our helmets and gear and start biking!

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Our first stop is to visit a local home.  We got to see their daily lives 🙂

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… and then the rain came and it came down hard.  We waited out until it lightened and went our way.  The guide said we can try going down a mountain bike trail.  I declined, seeing how wet it was … and how bad my biking skills are.

Therefore, I took the road and got there before everyone else.  I chilled around the outside of a Hindu Temple.

Walked around town.  Location .. unknown.

From there, we head into a small path through the paddy fields.  It was still raining but quite fun.  I asked the guide if it always suddenly rain likes this and he replied that its rainy season … November is rainy season 😦

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Our last stop was lunch! I didn’t keep track of where this lunch was … 😦 However, it was quite a nice restaurant.

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I was drenched from the rainfall … and I just stayed nearby my guesthouse for the remainder of the day.

November 29 2016

Bali : Ubud – Day 20 – Campuhan Ridge Walk

Next stop was Bali Island, more specifically the town of Ubud.  I only scheduled 3 days, which on hindsight, I wish I had more time there.

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airport

My friend drove me to the airport early in the morning and I took the plane from Jakarta to Denpasar.  The airport is fairly small for such a large city. There was only two levels and not a lot of places to hang out if visitors arrive too early.

My friend and I got there early so we had a shaved ice and some roti before I bid farewell to her.

After checking in, I just waited for my Air Asia plane to Bali!

Arriving at the airport, I was picked up by a taxi driver from my guesthouse.  The taxi fee cost 30,000 IDR, which is about $30 Canadian.  I went from the airport to Ubud and that was almost an hour away.  I had such a large suitcase so I didn’t want to take the public transportation (images of Penang’s Georgetown trip came into my head).

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The guesthouse was located in a quieter area in Ubud.  My room was quite big and had a large bed.  This was the view from the room.

My friend told me that Bali is fairly safe because there were lots of tourists and therefore more policing.  Ubud doesn’t have that many tourists compared to Kuta, the major tourist area in Bali and most appears to be honeymooners.

Aafter checking in, I was walking around Ubud on my own.  Ubud isn’t that big and I think I spent much of my time walking.  My first destination of the trip was the Campuhan Ridge Walk at the northwest part of town. Prior to arriving at the Ridge Walk, I passed by a Hindu temple called Pura Gunung Lebah. I actually took the wrong turn and that was how I ended up here ..

I finally got on the right path 🙂

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I heard that Ubud is more calm and is known for temples.  I didn’t expect this type of view but it was really nice 🙂

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The road is quite popular with people with selfie sticks … and why not?  The view was very gorgeous.

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As I walked a little further, I can see fields and fields of farmlands.

Eventually, I passed by an artists village.  There were paintings outside the buildings and many of the doors were open.  I think most were Indonesians but perhaps there are some foreigners.  There were also some cafe and spas.

The rest of the pictures 🙂

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It was a little humid despite being November but it was a good way to lose weight – hiking and sweating.

On the way back, I walked into another Hindu Temple called Pura Dalem.  There were no one inside.

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Even if there wasn’t anyone at the temple, the surroundings were just gorgeous. Ubud is the perfect place for anyone who wants to clear the mind.

I also read previously that the roads are busy with lots of motorbikes and such and I was fully expecting that but it wasn’t it in Ubud.  It was fairly calm.

Walking along the main road, Jl Raya Ubud, I also passed by a market where they sold souvenirs.

I went back to the guesthouse to rest afterwards and then went back out to have dinner.

Guesthouse : Desak Putu Putra Home Stay

November 27 2016 – Day 20