The visa on arrival process at DPS was fairly painless. We first paid the fee at a small counter and then headed into a standard immigration queue where we handed over our passport and the receipt for our visa on arrival.
We were ready for it to take a while but we were through in around half an hour. As of June 12th USA, Canada, UK and most of Western Europe can enter Indonesia without a visa, which is fantastic news.
We quickly collected our bags and made our way landside, where our driver Imade was waiting for us. We had arranged in advance for him to take us to Tanah Lot temple on the way to Ubud as our flight was scheduled to arrive 2 hours before sunset.
The timing worked out perfectly. Imade parked up and left us to explore the the amazing temple grounds by ourselves.
The Tanah Lot temple itself is quite overcrowded, as you can see, however there is a trick. If you walk uphill past a series of market stalls, you reach a restaurant where you can sit and enjoy a fresh coconut and some satay for a couple of bucks. The view is perfect, the shrubs block out all of the people and frame the temple beautifully.
After sunset we headed back to the car for the one hour drive to Villa Shamballa. The villa is located in one of the villages near Ubud; the village itself has absolutely no visible tourists. As we passed through we were delighted to see all the villagers dressed in white heading to the village temple for a ceremony. There was no mistaking it, between this, the heat and the jungle scenery; we were a long way from home.
Arrival at Villa Shamballa
Upon arrival at the villa we were greeted by our housekeeper/ chef Ilu. There was gamelan music playing over the stereo system and the house was decorated with candles and fresh frangipani flowers. The atmosphere was wonderful, the green glow of the pool reflecting the candlelight beautifully against a pitch black jungle backdrop.
After our welcome drink we headed into Ubud for dinner at a restaurant called Indus. The food and service were great and the prices were incredibly reasonable. Unfortunately we weren't able to appreciate the amazing views at night, it was only after returning home and googling Indus that we realised how spectacular the view is.
Imade had initially insisted on waiting for us outside the restaurant, Balinese drivers seem to have no problem at all with just sitting around for hours on end. We told him we'd call him when we were eating dessert and sure enough, as soon as we stepped outside, there he was waiting to take us back to the villa.
As soon as we got back we said goodnight to Ilu and headed to bed. There was incense burning but once we blew the candles out there was no light at all. We were truly immersed in nature with a variety of chirping, clicking and howling sounds, as well as the sound of light rain, helping us to drift off to sleep.
We awoke to this absolutely amazing sunrise from our bed:
There was only one thing for it, we just had to jump into our private jungle pool to wake up!
After our swim we were quite hungry and briefly contemplated eating the gigantic jackfruit hanging by the pool.
Thankfully, there was no need to wrestle the monstrous fruit down from the tree. Ilu had heard that we were awake and was already busy preparing the breakfast that we'd ordered the night before.
Breakfast was included in the villa price and included whatever we wanted.
The fresh watermelon juice, Balinese coffee and Nasi Goreng were particular highlights.
We spent the next 2 days diving. It was my first ever time in the open water and I absolutely loved it. I've already been diving again since (you'll hear all about it in a future TR).
I won't bore you with hundreds of pics but suffice to say Bali is a pretty good place to dive for the first time.
Ilu was able to arrange for a local masseuse to give massages on our sunloungers, for $10 per hour
On our last night I arranged for some local Gamelan players to entertain us whilst we we had dinner.
I wanted it to be a surprise for K, so I asked Ilu to teach us how to cook a few of her best dishes in the kitchen. Meanwhile the gamelan players used the opportunity to sneak in and begin playing, just as we came out with the starters.
Overall the experience at Villa Shamballa was superb