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An Awesome Day on Bali: Stumbling upon the Starbucks Temple

April 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM | by | ()

BALI. For some, the word conjures up images of infinity pools, surfing beaches and tropical temples. For others, it's a nightmare of topless tourists and sweaty sightseeing. Well, we just got back ourselves and we, with the help of tips from friends and locals, did something in between...something that turned out to be awesome. Put on the SPF, hire a car* and join us this week as we reveal an An Awesome Day on Bali (Jaunted-style).

Our awesome day on Bali continues with a wander around Jalan Raya Ubud (Ubud's main street) and a visit to the Pura Taman Saraswati temple behind Starbucks (yes, Starbucks)..

Alright, so now that you've breakfasted at Biku, it's time to hop in that private car* and hightail it almost two hours north into the cultural heart of Bali, in the town of Ubud. We recommend going there in the morning, because the afternoon brings the tour buses and floods the sidewalks (already barely wide enough for one) and many, many temples with vacationers who stop, stare, photograph, bargain for tchotchkes and sweat down the backs of their T-shirts.

Have your driver drop you off at the Ubud Art Market (Pasar Seni Ubud) and wander the maze of vendors a little, gawking at the abundance of mother-of-peal salad forks and carved phallus bottle openers. Since it's been a few hours after breakfast, you won't feel too bad about stopping into the single Starbucks across the street.

It's a large, well air-conditioned Starbucks that even features a gong out front. The menu and prices are comparable to the Starbuckses of the USA, so maybe instead wander next door to Lotus Cafe or a block down to Rendezvous-doux Cafe for a more local experience and tropical lassis.

No matter what you do, take twenty minutes to go behind the Starbucks to a magic land not visible from the street. Back there you'll come upon the dramatic image of the Pura Taman Saraswati, a temple fronted by a seriously lush lotus pond. Cross its bridge and check out the stone and woodwork. It is a temple dedicated the goddess of learning, literature and the arts and who doesn't like all those things?

Ignore the hawkers lining the road who'll offer you "transport," only to reveal that transport is on the back of their rickety motobike. Ubud is walkable. Do some shopping and finally swing by the Pura Dalem Ubud temple, which is dedicated to "the dark things." OoooOOhh.

Now you're nearly ready for lunch...

Our full "Awesome Day on Bali" series:
· Breakfast at Biku
· Late morning at the "Starbucks Temple"
· Noon drinks
· Seafood lunch on Jimbaran Bay
· Afternoon and evening surfer-spotting on Bingin Beach
· Sunset cliff-side

*Private car info: We recommend hiring a private car and driver if you plan on doing a full day of sightseeing and touring Bali. It's not particularly luxurious; it's something of the norm, since Bali is huge and the streets are not pedestrian-friendly. Any hotel should easily be able to arrange a car; we got ours through the Anantara Seminyak for $45/day.

Hard to believe, but this is a Starbucks:

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher]

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