Day 192: Monkey Business

Thur. 21st February 2013

Sometimes how I feel about blog writing!Yesterday, we were thwarted by the rain and not able to visit the sites we wanted to (or do the circular 8km walk). So, today there is no lazy start to the day and Janet’s edict is that if it isn’t raining we are off out pronto tonto. Fortunately / unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), it is chucking it down again first thing. Even better, it clears up around 10 o’clock and so everyone is happy with this reasonable compromise. (I think we’d have been heading out any not much later – rain or no rain).

At least we now know our way into and around town – and also where most of the places that we want to see are. First up is the market which is tucked away in some side streets. This contains the usual arts and crafts and is mostly one up from the usual tat that you see. In particular there are stalls with paintings, wood carvings and batik.

Entrance archway to the royal palaceNext on our list is Ubud Palace which apparently is still home to the local royal family. This seems to be spread over two sides of a road with a number of traditional buildings and decorated with the statues that we are coming to recognise as being typically Balinese. The temple, in particular, has incredibly elaborate carvings on the entrance gate. Also typically Bainese is the scooter parked right in front of it making the taking of photos that really capture the entrance even harder!

Lotus pond in front of Water PalaceNearby is the Ubud Water Palace (Pura Taman Saraswati if you really want to know) which is fronted by a large pond full of lotuses. Statues line the path through the middle of the pond which in turn leads to the temple building itself. Perhaps we have overdone the traditional temples with statues of spirits and gods that we don’t really understand. The simplicity of the pond covered with broad green leaves and the occasional pink lotus flower was good to see.

Sorry Myf!To cap it all, there was a Starbucks right by the Water Palace and it would have been rude to resist the call to coffee (sorry, Myf). It does, however, speak volumes both about Starbucks and generally about the local way of life that the 2 coffees cost 1/3rd more than yesterday’s lunch. Lunch yesterday was a real high-water mark of our trip and it is one of the memories that will stay with me – the location, the atmosphere, the food and the cost were all absolutely spot on.

Trying to be cuteThe weather gods stay kind to us. Whilst the sky is grey and overcast with thick clouds, it’s still not actually raining and so we head on down Monkey Forest Road – to the Monkey Forest, would you believe? This is a patch of forest on the outskirts of town. It does have a formal name, but it is always just called the Monkey Forest after the grey-haired (nothing wrong with that) Balinese macaques who live here. The monkeys had a rare old time living off titbits handed to them by tourists – and the locals had a good time selling the tourists bananas to feed to the monkeys. I think that generally, food chains in nature are more complex than that.

Not going to do that!Maybe it is just us and maybe we have listened to the stories from our nurse and then doctor when we had our rabies jabs. But if you get a bite or a scratch from one of these monkeys you are going to a hospital to get an injection whether or not you’ve been vaccinated – its just if you have had the rabies jabs you have a day to get there rather than an hour if you haven’t been vaccinated. So, whilst the monkeys looked moderately cute sometimes, there was absolutely no way we were going to touch them or feed them – and as for letting them climb on us… Sure enough, we did see a woman get on the wrong side of one of the monkeys and end up with a scratched shoulder. She got directed to the nearby clinic. No, thank you very much.

Statues by the main templeThe main focus of the site should have been the three Hindu temples connected by paths that run through the jungle / forest. The main temple was the largest and had the most impressive carvings that were largely covered in green moss. The Temple of the Dead had the most impressive name, however, I actually liked the Bathing Temple down by the river best. The mix of running water, huge Ficus trees with their dangling roots and the fountain pool all made it very atmospheric.

Guardians of the Bathing TempleAstonishingly, the rain was still holding off when we made it back to our hotel – though the covers were out on the loungers by the pool. Sure enough, we had not been inside long when the heavens opened. I would say that it has rained about as much here as it did for us in Tahiti – but that we are enjoying Bali so much more. I think that Tahiti (the island – as opposed to Rangiroa which we did enjoy) would have been disappointing to us even if it hadn’t been raining. When you factor in that accommodation, food and drink are so much cheaper here as well it just reinforces the distinction.

Olly's not frightened!After catching up with the family on Skype, we are just settling down to a well-deserved beer (there is another sort?) and to contemplate our supper plan when the phone in the room rings. It is the diving folk in Gili Trawangan, where were are due to be tomorrow, ringing to tell us that the bad weather has meant that all of the fast boat transfers from Bali have been cancelled for at least the next two days and probably longer. We can either choose to stay longer in Bali (no real hardship) or go to Lombok (the large island next to Bali) by plane or ferry (slow) boat. The Gili isles are just off the coast of Lombok and would be easy to get to once there.

Footbridge over the gorgeWe deliberate over supper and decide that our best option is to fly to Lombok. There are flights available and they only cost $25 each. When we try to book, however, because of the short notice, the airline wants payment by ATM. I didn’t know you could do such things – and it turns out you can’t if you have a UK bank card. This, we only found out after, yet another, walk into town and after trying every ATM in town (there were a surprising number), when we would much rather be ensconced in our Kindles.

There is no more that we can do tonight. We’ll have to find a travel agent or tour operator in the morning. Stuck in Bali – its a hard life!

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One Response to Day 192: Monkey Business

  1. The joys of travelling, luckily now in paradise on the beach:)

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