Up early in Ubud


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February 9th 2009
Published: February 13th 2009
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Getting online isn’t easy in Indonesia so we are a bit behind sending the blogs; so here is the first of two, which was written a week ago, to be followed by the one written on 8th February…

Up early in Ubud Sunday 1st February 2009

At 6 a.m. I heard a soft shuffling of feet outside the bedroom door on the balcony; tea delivery, a huge thermos flask of weak but refreshing green tea (available all day on the house).So here we are, sitting on big wicker balcony chairs, sipping our tea at dawn in Ubud in a small nine bedroom two floor guesthouse overlooking a paddy field of bright green rice. Doves are cooing, cockerels crowing, someone is sweeping the garden and otherwise there isn’t a sound and it is so peaceful. It is cooler here at night than on the coast, so we slept well (with a big ceiling fan going constantly) but it will get hotter later on. Time wise, we are now just eight hours ahead of GMT and seven hours ahead of CET. We have a large clean basic room and our own loo and shower, breakfast included, for roughly five pounds each per night; can’t be bad. Cheapest accommodation is about two pounds but we thought we’d splash out! Of course, one can pay a lot more but there is no need to.

The journey here yesterday took one and a half hours, not one hour as expected, in a cramped bus. We had to paddle with our gear across a busy road to get on it, and sat wet and sweating hot for the duration of the journey. The rain was lashing down and it wasn’t exactly pleasant. The whole journey was through built up areas, little countryside until the last few kilometres. It makes the Costa Blanca look positively rural. This isn’t surprising, given that Indonesia is home to 245,000,000 people (and petrol is cheap so the traffic is unreal). There are no “rules of the road” no “give way” signs, so everyone just drives in to whatever spaces they can see. Motor scooters weave in and out of lorries and buses as though the drivers all have a collective death wish and now in the wet season the pot holes are full of water. Being a passenger on Bali buses is quite an experience!

Monday 2nd February
Daily marketDaily marketDaily market

Ubud,Bali
2009

Ubud is charming and far more lad back than the coastal strip; hawkers are a little less persistent. The Balinese Hindu culture is at its strongest in Ubud and the daily ritual of offerings to the gods is enacted by all. Every morning palm leaves are woven to make little baskets to hold flowers (fragrant frangipani and hibiscus) and rice. These are taken with lighted joss sticks out to the street and placed on walls and pavements as well as shrines. The smoke is wafted across the area of placement which can be in the middle of the pavement near someone’s scooter, for example, for protection on the journey to work (which probably explains the over-confident driving manoeuvres). The whole town is quickly littered with offerings and although some get trodden on, others get trashed by street dogs and monkeys who eat the rice and yesterday’s offerings become sodden litter, nevertheless, the tradition is beautifully colourful and very meaningful and important to the predominantly Hindu population. One just has to tread carefully, especially in the rain, because little wet palm baskets on uneven and often broken paving is quite hazardous.

There is so much to see in
Making rice leaf basketsMaking rice leaf basketsMaking rice leaf baskets

For Hindu offerings
Ubud. The town has several old temples dating from the 14th century, craft shops, art galleries and a busy daily market. It also has the sacred monkey sanctuary, called Wenera Wana. It is home to about 300 Macaques monkeys, who live in three large troupes around the temples and forest, where they have lived for hundreds of years. Wandering through this sacred and very special place, one is very aware of being a guest; it is the monkey’s home and was so long before any tourists set foot in it. The monkeys, for the most part, ignore their guests. One tiny baby came too close to us for his mother’s liking and she quickly shooed him away, glaring at us at the same time, and two large males had a bit of a territorial scrap, which was a bit alarming since they ran around our legs screaming and snarling at each other. Other than that, the j Macaques just “did their thing” eating, de-lousing and grooming each other, swinging in treetops and generally entertaining us with their antics. Although the forest is their home, the monkeys often wander around the streets and eat the rice offered to the gods.

Tuesday 3rd February 2009

This morning we left Ubud and journeyed to Padangbai on the east coast, the ferry port for boats to Lombok. It’s a nice little coastal village. Most people just get off the bus and on to the ferry but since we are in no rush we decided to stay the night. Again, we have found lovely budget accommodation, set in a beautiful garden. Tomorrow morning we shall get the ferry to Lombok, which takes between four and five hours depending on the weather (it is a 70 kilometre crossing). We shall go to bed tonight praying to the gods for smooth seas tomorrow. They can get pretty rough this time of year! We have also found out that boat crossings to Komodo and Flores are frequently cancelled from eastern Lombok, due to the rough seas so after Lombok we might need to get to Flores by aeroplane and then get a boat over to Komodo to see the dragons; cross that bridge, or rather that sea, when we come to it! In the meantime we are sitting on the terrace watching the geckos running up the walls and watching the rain soak the pretty garden and enjoying the peace and tranquillity. There are no wireless signals here at all so we cannot get online, but we’ll send this blog when we can.


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14th century temple14th century temple
14th century temple

In the monkey forest, Ubud
sort 'em out!sort 'em out!
sort 'em out!

Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud
Padangbai in the rainPadangbai in the rain
Padangbai in the rain

East Bali ferry port


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