Day 336… bali2… Today we shoehorn in a bunch of stuff around Ubud (interesting facts for bali… they have an exclusive holiday Nyepi Day… EVERYTHING shuts down… wifi… power… even eenngaes closed and tourists locked into the hotel! It’s thier New Years and instead of a party… its a time to reflect on the past and what you will do in the future). Now… back to business.
First we try the inland mountain areas of Bali as an alternative to the beaches where the hills offer spectacular scenery, intact culture, tranquillity and a cooler climate. Named for the medicinal plants that grow wild here – ‘Ubad’ means medicine in Balinese – Ubud has long served as home to painters and artisans. Our first stop in this green paradise is the Hanging Gardens of Bali… an exclusive resort that charges $40au just to walk in! But if u have the time and inclination, the views and photo ops are definitely worth it with gorgeous stepped pools looking into the lush valleys.
After that we drive on through streets lined with painjol… palm leaf constructed hanging street pole/offerings… to the Tegalalang rice terraces and into them which is incredible. Had to wait out a it of a short shower, but all good.
After the rain left, we head out to Bali’s Monkey Jungle. This cool and dense swathe of jungle, officially called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana, houses three holy temples. The sanctuary is inhabited by a band of grey-haired and greedy long-tailed Balinese macaques who are nothing like the innocent-looking doe-eyed monkeys on the brochures. Well… except the little guy who immediately climbed aboard me for a ride. He was gentle and curious… lifting my sleeve to see if my freckles were edible… checking out my camera… and generally chilling on my shoulders for like 10 minutes having an arm scratch before climbing down my arm like a branch and heading off. Nestled in the forest, the interesting Pura Dalem Agung has a real Indiana Jones feel to it; the entrance to the inner temple features bizarre, almost pornographic old statue Rangda figures devouring children and… things.
The monkeys keep a keen eye on passing tourists in hope of handouts (or an opportunity to help themselves, as 1 tried with Chris’s backpack… another stole a ladies ear ring). One protective mother headed in my direction at random teeth bared as a sign of aggression. After our adventure we head off to take a look at the arts scene in Ubud. This is the place to go if you need Balinese paintings, wood carvings or other handicrafts. The place overflows with rustic tradition and the unique religious heritage of Bali’s Hindu culture; with everything from local temple ceremonies to a Kecak fire dance, which we see tonight after a delicious local meal.
The Kecak dance is nothing short of… for me… mind blowing! Why? Because I had no idea till it started what it was… but it’s one of the most iconic scenes in my favourite film of all time: BARAKA! I got to see it live, first hand! Astounding! Happy as Larry we head off home.