Temples and Palaces

The next leg on DonQui Oaty’s around the world adventure is Bangkok Thailand. He is only spending a few days here so he will be staying in the city and not venturing out into the Thai countryside. Hopefully he can do that another time in the future.

He starts his explorations with a visit to Wat Pho buddhist temple.

DonQui is rarely at a loss for words and he likes to think he is pretty good with them. Yet the awe inspiring beauty of Wat Pho takes his breath away. 

No amount of superlatives can do justice to what he feels as he trots around the temple in a state of bemused amazement.

He goes to the Royal Palace early the next morning — warned in advance that later in the day it is overcrowded with large groups of Chinese tourists.

The huge sprawling complex has its fair share of incredible structures.

DonQui is glad that he gets to the palace early in the day. Although there are a fair number of other visitors, he is able to contemplate the beauty and intricate craftsmanship in relative peace and quiet.

The prang of Wat Arun is a dominating landmark on the other side of the river from where DonQui is staying. Also known as the Temple of Dawn, it is actually shown off to its best advantage at sunset.

DonQui hops on a ferry for the short ride across the river to see it close up. 

These monkey-warrior guard statues look pretty formidable.

As does the man dressed in costume to resemble them.

There is actually quite a bit of cosplay going on. Pleasantly surprised to see so many people dressed in traditional Thai costume, DonQui wonders if there is a special celebration happening. Then he hears a group of them speaking Japanese. He later learns that there is a roaring business of little stalls renting traditional costume for visitors to wear, taking pics of each other for their instagram feeds.

Canggu Explorations

DonQui’s fabulous yet inexpensive lodgings are an oasis of greenery and calm in the buzzy backpacker/surfer/hipster enclave of Canggu, Bali.

Next door is the highly rated Crate Café which does have very good coffee. However the weird combinations of food on offer seem designed to be instagram-able, and to please the taste buds of homesick Australians rather than a travelling donkey. There is nothing local on the menu and all the customers are white — apart from DonQui who is slightly greyish.

Scratching his head, DonQui wonders why people travel so far just to have the same stuff they would have at home, Then he trots off in search of something vaguely Balinese to eat. This is harder than he would have thought. Amongst the tattoo parlours using 100% vegan ink and barber shops offering beard trims, there are plenty of restaurants. On offer are vegan ‘whole foods’, Keto-friendly options, poke bowls, protein smoothies, ramen, tacos, sushi, and avocado on everything. In short nothing that appeals to DonQui’s taste buds.

Finally DonQui stumbles upon Pali — an actual Balinese restaurant in an airy setting overlooking a rice paddy, and not a stray hipster in sight. DonQui samples the utterly delicious Nasi Campur Rendang. The spicy chicken satay skewered on a lemongrass stalk is a particular treat, as is the Urap (cold steamed vegetables with spiced grated coconut).

Feeling thoroughly refreshed, DonQui walks down to nearby Echo Beach and then along the black sands towards Pererenan.

Passing a family at their devotions, DonQui enjoys the underdevelopment of the beaches here and wonders how much longer they will remain so.

The beach at Pererenan is dominated by the amazing Gajah Mina statue which depicts Lord Baruna, ruler of the sea, riding a fantastic mythical creature.

Deciding that he wishes to explore further afield, DonQui realises that he needs to join Bali’s scooter madness, since hiring a scooter is really the only way to get around.

Before allowing himself to create mayhem on the streets he books himself in for a session with the excellent Mamo from Canguu Scooter Lessons. Soon DonQui is feeling confident enough to be let loose on the road.

A half an hour ride takes him to Tanah Lot temple which is spectacularly set on rocks above the Indian Ocean.

There are some pretty stunning views…

… and a parlous crossing at high tide.

Before leaving the temple, DonQui decides to stop for a famous Luwak Coffee. This is made from coffee beans which have eaten by luwaks (civets), partially digested and then evacuated before being gathered up for processing. Due to its unusual and limited production method this highly prized coffee is amongst the most expensive in the world. DonQui thinks it is a most excellent brew and he is getting a bargain at Rp 50k (around £2.70) a cup. 

The café owner even has a luwak (related to a mongoose) resting on the bar after its digestive exertions! 

The mobility of the scooter allows DonQui to reach further away beaches and find more authentic Balinese restaurants beyond the hipster ghetto. Of the latter, the unobtrusive Home by Chef Wayan is particularly good. He also enjoys Babi Gulung (Balinese suckling pig) from a roadside stop.

And no, he does not try his hand at surfing.