Ubud: cheeky monkeys, a soul journey & exploring the mountains

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October 28th 2015
Published: November 11th 2015
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We had heard about Ubud’s Monkey Forest and, as it turned out, it was only a 10 walk from our accommodation. This one is an absolute must if you are in the area. It’s a lush jungle that houses three temples and hundreds of monkeys. They are very accustomed to tourists and not at all shy! It pays to put anything on your possession inside a bag or backpack – even a bottle of water or sunglasses. The Monkey Forest really is a lovely spot; an oasis away from the hustle and bustle.

After a cruisy rest of the day, filled with drinks / food / massages / shopping, I went to a Sound Medicine session in the evening. Wow, this was a beautiful experience! After some meditation, everyone lay down on mats and cushion. Gifted sound, colour & movement healer Shervin Boloorian and talented musician Syafril Firdaus (who has the same gorgeous voice as Louis Armstrong!) used an array of traditional instruments whose sounds and vibrations have healing properties. It was a treat for the senses and I came away feeling light, relaxed, blissed out and profoundly well and happy. Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night. I’d highly recommend giving this a go if you ever have the opportunity. If you are ever in Ubud, I know that Shervin would love to hear from you at Yogabarn or Taksu Spa.

It was in the early morning of our second full day in Ubud that I decided to create a blog about this trip to Bali. I had been toying with the idea for a few days and 5am on Thursday 29 October was the perfect time to put ‘pen to paper’.

Whilst in Ubud, we always awoke early as there were cockerels on the property. There is something magical about rising before dawn and seeing the sun rise. This blog, therefore, was started in my favourite little gazebo just metres from our room.

“It’s 5am and I am reclined in a Balinese gazebo amidst lush palm forest within Ubud’s Yogabarn. The soundtrack is most enjoyable: cockerels crowing, cicadas singing, a stream softly bubbling along. There are creatures of all sorts around me: a mother hen and her chicks going for a morning walk, a native bird picking insects out of freshly turned mud, the most enormous butterfly I have ever seen darting between birds of paradise and frangipani trees, the tiniest of birds drawing nectar out of brightly coloured flowers, geckos darting around making that sweet clicking sound, a baby squirrel balancing gracefully on a palm leaf, and mosquitoes lured by the tasty promise of my blood.

It’s also a feast for the eyes with bamboo huts, delicately carved stone, a Balinese shrine, a few silk parasols and a rich sumptuous flora that is hard to describe in words. Softly underlying this treat for the senses is the heady aroma that promises to become another beautiful day.

The morning mist is lifting and the full moon which hung brightly in the sky right ahead of me, disappeared only minutes ago. Planet earth has turned and that soft lunar energy will soon be replaced with the fiery vitality of the sun. As if on cue, I can hear someone warming up some drums nearby, preparing the soundtrack for their day.”

After our daily yoga practice, yummy breakfast and some chill-out time in our room, we put the scooter that Dean had hired the night before to good use. Before coming to Bali, we had planned to stay up in the mountains for a couple of nights during our trip, but instead we decided to make a day trip of exploring them. We did a 90km round trip on our little scooter, weaving through the countryside outside of Ubud, right up through the rice fields to the active volcano Gunung Batur and the lake at the bottom of its crater, Danau Batur. This whole area is a National Park and tourists pay a small fee upon entry. The steep windy slopes were fun to scoot down, although the roads were quite rough at times. We ended up in the tiny village of Songan where we went for a short walk, briefly visited the temple and spoke to a local artist. On our return journey, we were stopped by a police officer on a scooter. Once he had verified that we did indeed have an international driving license and weren’t breaking any laws, he of course asked us if we had any money for him. It’s best to stay firm and polite with such requests and thankfully he swiftly waved us along with a smile. On our way back we stopped for lunch above the rice fields. The food was nothing to rave about, but the view was absolutely amazing.

Despite using sunscreen, we were badly sunburnt from riding in the midday sun. I had dressed in long trousers that morning but changed to shorts before we set out on our ride, forgetting to apply sunscreen to my legs. To top it off, on my way back to our room after walking around the shops in the late afternoon, I fell over on the pavement. Typical Balinese pavement is in a very sad state of disrepair. It certainly helps to keep your eyes peeled for any missing or damaged tiles, and to pay particular attention to the large slanted gaps that allow access to side roads.

As I post this blog entry one week later, the sunburn on my knee is still sensitive and blistering and the scrapes from the fall are finally starting to heal. The day was a lot of fun but also exhausting and we slept like logs that night.

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