I really had no idea what to expect going there. All I knew about the place is that it’s where Elizabeth Gilbert went at the end of her big spiritual journey, and you can ride elephants there. So I kind of expected it to be full or pachyderms, and middle aged women on bicycles clutching well thumbed copies of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. I was wrong on both counts.
I flew in to Denpasar airport,
and paid the princely sum of 250,000 Indonesian rupiah (IDR) – about £13:80 – for the one hour taxi ride from there to Ubud, near the centre of the island.
The first thing I noticed was the Balinese love of statues. They were many and varied.
The second thing I noticed was the crazy random vehicles you got on the road. Never mind all the scooters, I saw a forklift heading down the main road,
and this turned out to be a police pick-up transporting prisoners.
At one point my driver, who wasn’t the most approachable chap, announced he needed a drink. So he just pulled over, hopped out, and left me there with the engine running.
I was glad when the busy, warehouse lined, dual-carriageway started winding it’s way out of the city and into more open country.
And I was very glad to finally get to my hotel in Ubud (my one hour taxi ride taking a good two hours because of all the crazy traffic).
I’d splashed out a bit, and was staying at the Casa Ganesha Hotel, for just under 3,000,000 IDR (£181) for the week. It looked very promising as I walked in,
and I had no complaints about the room.
The main road was crazy busy with traffic (constantly) so I was happy to be at the back away from all that. The facilities were excellent – air-con, TV, free wifi – and you even got a choice of free breakfasts each morning. Check this out!
I was quite partial to the fruit salad and banana pancake combo, and had that more than once. But I wasn’t averse to the cinnamon toast as well, and both were an excellent way to start your day.
The first couple of days I just wandered about a bit, got my bearings. The pavements were a bit haphazard,
so you had to keep your wits about you (I tripped several times as I was walking while gaping into shop windows, but thankfully I didn’t fall down any holes).
But everywhere there were glimpses of Ganesha; the Remover of Obstacles,
so I wasn’t too concerned.
There were also offerings everywhere – outside every shop, gateway, by every statue, and anywhere else they could think to put them;
though who they were to and what they were for I never found out.
And there was yoga. All kinds of yoga stuff all over the place.
I was looking forward to some of that (though that’s a subject for a post of it’s own).
Apart from yoga and riding elephants, a little research came up with two things you could do in Ubud that were meant to be good; visit the Ubud Palace, and visit the Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
I gave the palace a go first, and was woefully disappointed. You couldn’t go inside (as far as I could see anyway), they had these ‘STOP’ signs everywhere,
so you just got to wander around a small part of the grounds a bit looking at a few stone carvings.
By far the superior of the two options was the Monkey Forest.
The monkeys were awesome. Crazy, cheeky, and a little bit sneaky, you had to keep your eye on them or they’d be away with whatever you had!
The forest itself had some beautiful and unexpected architecture,
as well as some less architectural man-made enhancements,
but of course the best bit was the monkeys. 😀
You had lone monkeys just hanging out,
families of monkeys just doing their thing,
and cheeky monkeys just being cheeky.
A monkeys life is a simple one. When you’re not begging for bananas, or trying to steal stuff off tourist, most of your time is spent laying around grooming or being groomed (so it seems).
I can’t say I don’t envy them that, lol.
The monkeys may be crazy, but what drove me nuts was I couldn’t stop singing the song from the following video as I wandered around the place. And I bet you’ll be singing it too by the end of it. 😉