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Published: April 6th 2005
Monkey Forest UBUD, BALI:
Well fed, this monkey was no doubt part of the troop which ambushed us.
We are now in the cultural mecca of Bali. Ubud is the artistic center of the island and is definitely my favorite destination so far. It is a tourist town but very charming in a Bali-esque way. There are a series of streets with tons of shops but, you can walk ten minutes and be in the most gorgeous rice paddies watching the Balinese harvest the crop. Of course, everyone is always trying to sell you something and the art of bargaining is highly valuable here. Just walking down the sidewalk you are always accosted with "Transport, transport, tomorrow, tomorrow, Taxi, hello, hello, excuse me, hello, you wanna taxi, you wanna taxi? Cheap, very cheap! And this is all within a five second time span. As a retail queen, I must add that the shopping here is fabulous! There is a really cool ramshackle market every morning that sells everything and anything. Wandering the stalls is an adventure as the sellers call out the eternal, "Cheap, very cheap. Morning price...for you! Everything is incredibly inexpensive. I've already checked out methods of shipping because I'm going hog wild with my purchases!!!!! Much to Dave's dismay....😊
On our first
Rice Paddy Worker
The ubiquitous Bali Rice Paddy Terrace.
day we headed to the Monkey Forest and following Lonely Planet's erroneous advice we brought a huge bunch of bananas to quell the monkeys. Within a few steps into the forest, a couple of monkeys immediately emerged and Dave threw them bananas. The next thing we know thirty monkeys are descending upon us screeching hysterically. Being the brave girl I am, I did an immediate about face and high tailed it up the hill with visions of Planet of Apes racing through my head as poor deserted Dave was surrounded by monkeys grabbing his pants and shirt and trying to scale his, thankfully, LONG body to grab the bananas! Luckily, a park employee saved the day by running frantically toward Dave and grabbing the bananas and handling the barrage of apes with Asian aplomb. The monkeys were literally on his back and shoulders, it was hilarious! What became immediately apparent is that with no food, the monkeys don't give a damn about you and leave you completely alone. So, we then had the surreal experience of walking through this amazing forest that resembles something out of Tarzan with monkeys swinging from vines and temple ruins as their playground. They literally
walk within inches of people without batting an eyelid- some clutching babies and others just clutching each other. They are SO human, its eerie.
We also spent a day hiking in the countryside surrounded by rice paddies and passing local artist studios. Traditional Balinese painting is one of the main artistic offerings of Ubud. As we were walking down the path we encountered a toothless, old man sitting by a cow. "Coconut?" he enquired. Assuming that he had a stash somewhere behind him, we agreed. To our utter shock, surprise and astonishment the old man hoisted up his pants (revealing surprisingly sinuous legs) and began CLIMBING one of the coconut trees! One third of the way up, he looks down and says "picture, you wanna picture?" Fumbling for the camera, Dave began snapping away. On his return, he broke out his machete and ingeniously poked a hole in the coconut. At this point, I'm muttering to Dave, "Don't you dare bargain with this guy. For god's sake, give him whatever he asks. He can't be a day under seventy and he just hauled his butt up that tree!" For once, Dave was in agreement and we were ultimately charged
Tropical Free Climbing
70+ years old and sending a 5.11 coconut tree?
a whopping 10,000 rupis for the coconut (approx. ONE DOLLAR!)
Another amazing experience in Ubud is seeing some of the various traditional Balinese dances. Against the background of the beautiful Ubud Palace we saw our first Legong dance. A group of women come out in Technicolor sarongs and gold head dresses and begin a rhythmic dance that involves a lot of hand movements and a very cute twitching of their tail (if you know what I mean...😊
Ubud and it's surrounding areas are chock full of temples and other ancient sites. So, our big day tomorrow is hiring a "transport, transport!" and seeing the country side.
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