Day #117 - One Month To Go!

Wow! Can you believe it? It's just one month to go before we arrive back in the UK. Our trip has been incredible so far and I know there's lots more to experience before that day comes. Today was one of those experiences that will live for us for a long time - we got to meet some elephants!

Some of the rice field filled countryside we drove through
Like before, we hired a driver for the day to take us from place to place. The roads and traffic here make it a much easier choice since there is very little road signage, no road markings and at times, it does seem like a free-for-all on the roads! We had the lovely Krisna who transported us to or current hotel from our last. 

Our first stop today was to see those elephants. About forty minutes away from our hotel lies the Mason Elephant Park the only dedicated elephant rescue park in Bali which for the last 20 years, has been involved in the upkeep and breeding of  27 elephants saved from government camps in Sumatra. A lot of people rightly get twitchy when it comes to animals, zoos and tourist exploitation of these magnificent creatures and so it was reassuring to visit a centre that put conservation and animal welfare so prominently at the heart of everything they do. Of course, we would love these creatures to be able to roam free in their natural habitat but when that habitat has been destroyed and these animals have been displaced by human actions, we do have an obligation to do what we can to restore where possible and rehome when not. Using tourists to fund this important work in an ethical way seems a fair compromise to me. Anyway, enough of the politics, here's the cute pictures (the elephants, not James or I).  

The park also had some giant tortoises which were equally magnificent in their way- so gentle and majestic. 

There was an interesting art gallery that we also enjoyed, with elephant themed artwork. Some of it was serious stuff, but I was drawn to the more childlike images of elephants - Dumbo and a great sculpture of one of my childhood favourites, Horton from Horton Hears a Who. They also had on display some artwork painted by elephants. Can you guess which one is theirs?

During our time at the park, it was lunchtime for the elephants. The park has a great system for ensuring each animal gets its own meal, with the right amount of nutrients it needs without the animals fighting or stealing others' food (which elephants apparently do quite frequently). The animals are fed in their own space so they can enjoy their food undisturbed and while they are tethered to prevent them from wandering, they certainly enjoyed their food before they headed back to where they could roam more freely. James and I also got a chance to feed them too!

After enjoying the park for a few hours, we headed off to our next stop, a waterfall. This was located at the bottom of 550 steps (I counted them!) in a very steep sided valley. We descended about a vertical kilometre but the view at the bottom was worth it. 

The water had carved out a huge semi-circular bowl with vertical sides into which the water tumbled. It didn't have the force of one of the waterfalls we saw in Tahiti that we couldn't get near, which meant we could venture out into the water to experience its power. 

Yes, I got into the water too!
Such a refreshing and invigorating experience could only be followed up by a relaxing (late) lunch and our driver had the perfect place in mind. He took us to a delightful restaurant called Teba Sari. This restaurant was housed in a large thatched building and we had a table near the back that opened out onto a field and overlooked some private dining huts and a lovely pond. The magical location was matched by the beautiful food. 

We enjoyed, Be Sampi Base Bali (braised beef with Balinese spices) Nasi Goreng (fried rice dish, usually cooked with pieces of meat and vegetables) along with some delicious desserts - Bubur Injin (local black rice pudding) and chocolate panna cotta. With drinks (and we were thirsty) the total bill was just over £45 for the two of us. We love the prices here!

Then it was back to our hotel for the evening where we enjoyed a lovely sunset over the rice fields. A magical end to a magical day that like the elephants, we won't forget!