You guys know how much I love Bali, and how much I love to find a new adventure, so when I got the chance to go white water rafting near Ubud in Bali, I just jumped at the chance.
There’s just something about the rush of the water, and about skimming along the churning rapids. I live for that nano-second where you hit a wave and it topples you off balance. A moment when you’re suspended in time, not knowing whether you’ll end up safely in the raft or in the on your own in the drink. It’s so exhilarating!
After a hearty breakfast at one of my favourite cafes in Ubud, Atman (try the poached eggs with extra feta avocado on the side – lush), I went outside to be greeted by what can only be described as an absolute belter of a car.
A 1976 VW, imported from Mexico to Jakarta, and then lovingly brought over to Bali to be restored to its former glory. Our driver Wayan was the car’s very proud owner, after having been given it in his uncle’s will.
Wayan gingerly lowered the soft roof and we eagerly climbed inside. As we rolled out of Ubud and into the surrounding rice fields, I was filled with a huge love for Bali and its inconceivably green countryside.
We skirted yet another gorgeous rice field with Mount Ayung watching over in the background and arrived in a small town, where we got to explore the local market.
The sights, sounds and smells were typically Balinese. The waft of incense in the air, the honking and whizzing of traffic going by, the temple taking pride of place in the town centre. All of these things, plus the smiling vendors, shouting ‘hello’ as we browsed the wares.
There were fruits, veggies, meat, fish, weaved bowls and clothes for sale, but the thing which stood out the most for me was a single moped on the edge of the market holding four shelves of tiny chicks.
Each shelf held a different colour of bird, and one held chicks of all kinds of bright colours. Purple, green, yellow, pink, orange… I wondered who would want to buy chicks who’d been messed with in this way, but there must be a market for them somewhere. It broke my heart to see so many birds crushed into one space, but sometimes you just have to accept that things are different here.
Our next stop took us to the incredibly photogenic Taman Ayun temple. We watched some ladies prepare a feast which looked like it was mainly made of garlic and chillies… I know that the Balinese are fond of their richly spiced food, but honestly, they must have been cooking for 200 people to be using that much chilli!
We explored the temple grounds and came across the most amazing steeped structures, which for me encompassed Bali in one snapshot. If it weren’t over 35 degrees, I could have stayed and stared at these buildings all day.
Hot and sweaty, I could not have been more ready to get into that raft!
We rolled into the ‘Mega Rafting’ office near Ubud already excited for what lay ahead. There were only two others joining us on our rafting adventure, which made it all the more personal. As we started out down the Ayung River, there were loads of large groups of rafters, which thankfully we managed to avoid for the most part. I can’t stand it when you’re part of a massive, faceless herd. Much better to be given the personal attention I think.
We climbed down a mass of steps and finally made it to the raft at the bottom of a beautiful canyon. The natural beauty of Bali, and I mean this with every fibre of my being, NEVER ceases to amaze me.
We floated gently at first down the water, being surrounded by diving swallows and the occasional waterfall. Absolutely breathtaking… Until of course our guide took us underneath one of the falls, which he thought was hysterical. Me? Not so much! 🙂
The rapids gained in height and strength, and pretty soon our mettle was put to the test with a couple of stomach-churning drops.
Our guide didn’t know the official grading of the river, but as it was wet season and the water flowed pretty quickly, I’d say it was up to grade 3 in places. Not too challenging, but enough to make you suck in your breath and hope for the best.
I soon became pretty good friends with the girl sitting next to me, after landing in her lap a couple of times, and vice versa!
After around an hour of paddling, we stopped for a quick refreshment by the river banks where you can buy drinks from local women. We treated our guide to a beer, as a kind of social experiment to see how crazy we could make him! 🙂
We slipped back into the raft and battled the river (OK, not quite ‘battled’, but floated with the occasional scary bit) all the way to the end, another hour away. Overall we covered about 10km, which I think is pretty good for a bunch of almost beginners!
By now, the clouds had started to gather and so we showered and ate our lunch as quickly as we possibly could before the rain hit. We knew there would be another big climb to get out of the canyon, and of course there was!
Typical rainy season in Bali!
Our day finished on a high as we passed a procession by a local village, all dressed in their best and carrying man made effigies and offerings to the gods. The rain didn’t seem to dampen their spirits one single bit. Another reason why I love Bali so.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of eOasia for their Volkwagen Safari and Rafting experience. All opinions and ridiculous love for Bali remain my own.
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