Sunday, August 25, 2013

Two nights in Bali

Day 2 I got on a tourist bus to Ubud, a few miles up a very crowded road from Legian where I was staying. I was looking forward to seeing some countryside, but there was none to be had. The road to Ubud was one long chain of shops, people and motor bikes. Occasionally, there would be a break in the road's protective wall that offered glimpses of rice paddies and hinted at a quieter life behind the bustling micro-enterprises.

These monkeys are not impressed.
I hit the main tourist attractions in Ubud. I was tempted to take advantage of some of the walks recommended in my guide book, but with the heat of the day and my limited time, I gave myself over to blatant tourism... hey, when in Rome.

First stop was the Sacred Monkey Forest. Hanuman is a a Hindu god in the form of a monkey. Therefore, temples to Hanuman frequently have monkeys... lots and lots of habituated long-tailed macaques. The monkeys are believed to protect the temple, but mainly they harass people and steal things.

The most entertaining thing was to witness some clearly sheltered tourists freak out as monkeys climbed up them... I have to say, when a monkey decided to perch on me, it was a bit disconcerting. These guys are strong and can be mean, but they softness of their feet is pretty astounding. So I wound my way through the paths around temples, trying not to accidentally kick a monkey.

I found a cool little side area where stone komodo dragons protected a spring. Some of the less assertive monkeys were down there. One launched off of the sculpture and onto my shoulders. When he was unable to figure out how to get into my backpack for the almonds I had in there, he punched me in the head and leaped away. Okay, it was more of an open hand slap, but still...

Kool Komodo sculpture
I took my lunch in a little place that offered wifi (pretty much how I am decided where to eat) and a rice paddy view. My huge plate of gado gado cost $2.50, which I thought was a bit expensive. Clearly I am easily slipping back into Southeast Asian price expectations.

View from lunch
After lunch I went to the palace of the Ubud royal family and then checked out a museum of Balinese art. The most fascinating thing about Ubud is that everything is ridiculously ornate. It was difficult to discern whether one was entering a temple or someone's front yard. Homestays welcome visitors with beautiful gates and statues!

Old world and new world together
It was back to Kuta and prep for my 6am flight to Yogyakarta where I am now. Life is slowing down here as I am settled for a bit so I don't need to rush around to see everything. I think it is time to deal with my jet lag and resulting cold!

Super cool ficus tree in the Sacred Monkey Forest

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