Travel Journal

Ubud Explored

(Friday 5 June 2009) by Dopps Family
Ubud, Bali (June 4th and 5th)
Thursday, June 4th.
Today was all about the monkeys. We walked down Monkey Forest Road, amongst all the bored taxi drivers all asking us “need a taxi?” or showing signs reading “Need a taxi?” and when you reply “Not today”, they flip the sign over which reads “Maybe tomorrow?”. Since we have feet and legs (which Carola so aptly pointed out to these taxi drivers) we continued our jaunt on to Monkey Forest Sanctuary. At the entrance ladies will sell you bunches of bananas for 15000 rupees, but you have to be fast and hide them in your backpack or the monkeys will have them out of your hand and eaten before you realize what happened. Several times they jumped up on Carola’s back and more often than not would attack and grab at her, but when they jumped on my back they seemed to like either me or my hair and would lay on my neck and head as well as groom my hair. Never had a real monkey on my back let alone one picking bugs off my head.
On our way back while having some lunch we watched several older women carrying bricks from a neatly stacked pile on the street through an alley to some construction site. What puzzled me was why they would choose the method of transport by balancing a piece of plywood on their head and carefully stacking 25 bricks one by one 5 wide and 5 high all while on top of their head. One lady had a mishap and all the bricks slid off her head by accident which made me wonder why not use a wheel barrel or a wagon or something easier and simpler? Then again, we also watched several stone masons meticulously and methodically etching an elaborate 3-dimensional scene into concrete at one of the temples using wooden mallets and thin, sharp metal chisels. These traditional crafts and labor methods still being utilized are some of the things that make Bali so authentic and distinguished from the other countries we’ve visited. Watching the women each morning provide offerings and blessings at your doorstep, the nightly traditional dances, the small and large temples in every corner and on every street with fresh flowers and garments cloaked around them for “protection” project a characteristic culture unlike any other place we’ve been too.
Friday, June 5th.
Today we ventured outside of Ubud to the surrounding villages, temples and up to Mt. Batur. We negotiated the day’s drive with a local private taxi for 280,000 rupees (or $28). Our first stop was a small village overlooking some nice rice terraces but as soon as we left the safety of the van we were surrounded by locals desperately trying to sell us sarongs, wood carvings, chopsticks and other non-essentials. Unlike in town these folks were relentless and aggressive pushing the items into your hands and telling you a dizzying array of prices from $1 to 2 for $10 or 30000 rupees for 1 or $5 for both, anything to catch your attention and hold it long enough to look you in the eye. We were able to finally push though and get some pictures of the rice terraces below the street where two young children, one boy and one girl no older than 4 or 5, were also trying to sell us postcards and toys. Sad seeing such small children hawking to tourists, so we gave them each 5000 rupees and told them to keep their souvenirs. When we tried to leave we couldn’t close the door to the van because these hawkers wouldn’t give up until their overcrowding caused Anisa to start crying and our driver finally stepped in to help move them away to close the door. Outside of the restaurant for lunch I did give in and bought 2 t-shirts for 40,000 rupees, kind of hard to pass up a t-shirt for only $2 each.
On the way back we visited the “holy springs” temple where locals come to pray and bath in the waters to cleanse themselves from bad spirits and evil deeds. We also visited a small coffee and spice plantation where they still roast the beans the traditional way on open flame and grind the beans using a large wooden bowl and large wooden dowel? (I forget the correct name for this tool…;-). Lastly we visited the Elephant Cave temple called Goa Gajah, which was good since the kids were exhausted, especially Anisa as we headed back to Ubud.

  • Monkey Man by Ron
    • T-shirt... 2 dollar? by Dopps Family
  • contact by Nanny Teresa
  • Thank you by Leslie

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