Sunday, 14 July 2013

Ubud and the Monkey Forest!

After Seminyak and a day of rest after my birthday, we were to take a trip into central Bali for a couple of days before making our way to the Gili islands. We were headed to Ubud, the town where the majority of Eat, Pray, Love was filmed, and home to the legendary Ketut, also in Eat, Pray, Love. We never got the chance to see the ‘Ketut’ who played Ketut in the film (mainly because he charged $25 for the privilege) but we did get to peruse the streets of charming Ubud, complete with Monkey’s and rice paddies!

Desiree and Felix were joining us so we all jumped in a shared car at 1pm and an hour and a half later we were in Ubud, searching for somewhere to stay. The place Diana had recommended to us was full (high season – yay), so our driver let us hunt up and down the street for accommodation. Eventually Devyn stumbled upon a little gem at the end of a cobbled street, just down from the cute little market. It had a decorated archway into it, and our humble abode was a cute little bedroom, which had its own marbled outside area, and majestic carved wooden doors and shutters in the windows – it was like we were living in our very own Balinese house (it also had a hot-tub bath-tub)! Desiree and Felix had a cute room in the upstairs area. Inside the ‘family compounds’, there was a temple, a place where the grandmother and grandfather lived (opposite our room), and the family house. There was also a dog, tortoise and some pet birds! The owners were exceptionally amazing – they made sure we always had a supply of Balinese tea and breakfast every morning.

After exploring our new digs we decided to go on a walk to explore the area and the market just up the road from us. It sold all the usual tourist tat, as well as some cute things...and penis bottle openers?! (We later discovered that Penis’s are a symbol of great respect and represent fertility and good fortune). I bought a few fridge magnets for mother and then we went for a walk along some of the streets before it started to rain. Ubud had a certain charm and look about it that reminded me of Hoi An, Vietnam and Luang Prabang, Laos a little! Devyn and Chandler had to go and find somewhere to eat that was able to take credit card as they were having issues with their account, so we split up and Desi, Felix and I went for massages.

Felix went in one room and me and Desi in another. Our massages were great, however, poor Felix came out looking rather was his first ever massage in S.E.Asia and he had almost gotten a ‘happy ending’ by a guy...unwittingly!! Lol! Poor baby, he will now be scarred for life! So we went back to the rooms but Devyn and Chandler had the key to our room and weren’t back yet, so we went upstairs and chatted/played some card games for a bit. When Devyn and Chandler returned, we felt a little hungry so went to the restaurant opposite us for some food, then hit the sack as we were up early tomorrow to check out Monkey Forest!

The next day we had our amazing free breakfast of fruit salad, toast and fried eggs, plus our regular supply of Bali Tea and then eventually made our way down to Moneky Forest. Monkey Forest is actually an ancient temple complex, but is called such because it is now overrun by wild Monkey’s, and a lot of the temples are dedicated to these wonderful creatures. As soon as we got there we glimpsed our first 3 Monkeys at the entrance, by a statue, with a bottle of water trying to drink it, and then playing with the water that had spilt. We then saw another monkey playing what we thought could have been a game of ‘Statues’ as he was in a very weird position for quite some time, which was pretty funny! What I loved about these Monkeys though, is that they were super blasé about the amount of tourists surrounding them, but were also still very cheeky – there were signs everywhere warning you of what they were capable of!

We took a tour of the first temple, which had a very interesting statue of a monkey...well, getting down to Monkey business. We also encountered a monkey fight and walked along a small stream/waterfall. We then went to the biggest temple, where we had to dress in skirts to be allowed in – boys included. Felix was not a happy bunny. We also had to read a sign of temple rules – girls were not allowed in if menstruating or if you had just given birth. No one was allowed to enter if you were mourning the loss of a relative. Hmmmm, pretty strange rules but we all passed them so we were allowed entry – woohoo!

The temple was pretty sweet and we took some pictures, before exiting and handing back our skirts, much to Felix’s relief, and then witnessed a Monkey-rape! Some poor female monkey was minding her own business before a massive male came along and quite literally raped her, before she could fight him off...tough life being a female monkey!!

There were some pretty cool monkey statues around, which being big kids, we couldn’t help impersonating, especially as you know, we descend from apes! So it was quite fitting to show how we can still act and behave like them. We then just went on a big monkey spotting walk, where we found one to take pictures with while it seemed like he couldn’t care less...’sigh, one more pose for these stupid tourists’. One monkey looked like he was at a photo-shoot for Vogue, and we got to see some really cute babies and one that looked like Doby from Harry Potter or Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

After this we walked through the crematorium with little headstones to which Felix asked...are they monkey graves?! Pahaha. They don’t love their monkey’s THAT much Felix. We walked back along the streets to do some more window-shopping and Felix, Desi and I booked the Eco Bike Tour for tomorrow, that Diana told us we should do while we were here. Then we all went our separate ways for the afternoon. Desi and Felix went back for a nap, Devyn and Chandler went to find some wifi and I went to look for a smart phone, so I would have one for Australia.

I asked at many stores but just got blank stares back when asking if there was any mobile phone shops around. Eventually a man understood me and took me to his friend who for £2 would take me on his motorcycle 10mins down the road to a street where there were many phone shops to look in. So I took him up on the offer, a little scared of the ride but eventually found a shop and settled on an asian brand Maxtron, which was an android, and like a Samsung or Iphone, but MUCH cheaper (around £100 I paid for it, including credit). He then gave me a lift back to our homestay.

Upon returning, Chandler and Devyn still hadn’t returned, and we’d made plans that evening to all go to a traditional Balinese dance show. So instead of waiting around, Desi, Felix and I decided to head there ourselves, letting the girls know where we were going. But it turned out, choosing where to see the dance show was pretty confusing and we were HOUNDED by touts trying to sell us tickets. So, hungry and tired, we decided to give it a miss we couldn’t be bothered with the hassle, and so instead went to a little tiny street restaurant down the road from us. We met an older british man here who was convincing us that it was the best restaurant ever and to try the food, so we did! He'd gone on a world trip, come to Bali and loved it so much he ended up staying in Bali...forever (well, the last two years). He had some pretty cool stories, so we listened to them while we ate delicious Lumpia (spring rolls) and I had a Beef Rendang curry.

The night was still young so we headed to a shisha bar which we’d heard was good, just down the road from us and got ourselves a shisha and some drinks, where we stayed for the rest of the night, Devyn and Chandler joined us around 9pm. We played a little of the 5 W’s game (where you ask each other questions using Who, What, Why, When, Where and How). Then we headed to bed ready for our 6.30am rise tomorrow on our bike tour! Devyn and Chandler had decided not to join us, so it would just be me, Desi and Felix.

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