Monkey Business

Every good day starts off with a good breakfast.  Did I mention that we’ve been having these delicious banana coconut pancakes almost every morning? Plus other stuff, like fresh fruits, fresh bread, and duck eggs that are produced about 20 feet away from the kitchen.

Also, in Bali, along with a good breakfast, the day for most Balinese starts with a ceremony or spiritual ritual.  One of the interesting things that you see everywhere – almost every door step has one, there are loads in front of temples, in the street, sidewalk etc… are offering baskets called “canang sari”.  Their purpose is to give thanks for another peaceful, abundant day, and wish for another to come.  These baskets must take a huge amount of work and care to prepare every day!  Some of them are very elaborate, a lot of them have incense, perhaps a cookie or cigarette on top of the flowers – they are a constant reminder of how devoted the Balinese are to their traditions, faith, and positive living.  They are so plentiful, there’s even an item on the Bali equivalent of a green bin for discarded offerings.

Here’s a few more shots from around Ubud.

On Thursday we set out with Made again and visited Tegenugan Waterfall.  Up until a few years ago, this was a relatively obscure attraction, but now there’s a large parking lot, line of shops on the approach to the viewing platform and stairs, and a large bar on the opposite side.  We got there early enough that this didn’t detract from the experience.

We stopped at the Bali Bird Park for a visit.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of any of the live action they had going on with some magnificent winged creatures, but we also saw some other interesting things such as this Toraja house that was the home for a number of owls, and even a totem pole just like on the west coast of North America!

Another lunch spot in a beautiful setting.

After lunch was the Sangeh Monkey Forest.  Similar in idea to the famous Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest, but only 3 cars in the parking lot, no foreign tourists, and monkeys outnumbering visitors 4 or 5 to 1.  Also, if you choose to you can feed the monkeys peanuts here – only peanuts in shell – to entice them to pose for photos.  The monkey families in the front of the park are well cared for and calm.  Still at your own risk if you want to get close to them though.  The entire park is really quite beautiful:  there is a temple inside the walls of the forest proper, with stately nutmeg trees towering hundreds of feet above the sidewalks.  At this place, there was a group of what seemed to be high school age girls that really wanted to take a photo of Elinka (pale skin, blonde hair anyone??) but she declined – good!  I’d be miffed if she’d pose for some stranger’s photo but run away when I want to take one, or have someone take a group photo.

A short drive down the road was another lesser known but beautiful stop: Taman Mumbul Sangeh.  Elinka had a lot of fun feeding the hundreds of fish here, and we got right up close and personal with a gorgeous little temple in the lake.  Again, only 3 other tourists here as far as we could tell, and there were a few vans of local people arriving near the end of our visit to take part in another ceremony.  Saw a cool old VW convertible in the parking lot here!

Friday morning, Blanka and I got up at 0115 to head out for a hike to see the sunrise at Mount Batur, an activity that’s very popular with active visitors to the island.  We were picked up by a shuttle service along with 4 other people staying in the same area, and drove for about an hour to the company’s base where we were served coffee and a banana crepe to get us going.  Another 15 minute drive after that brought us to the trailhead where there were around 200 other people starting the hike, all with guiding services.  I’m not sure if you need a guide, but it was definitely worth it rather than trying to find our way in the dark (we started hiking at 0345).  At this higher elevation (around 1100 metres) the air was noticeably cooler but we were still sweltering after about 10 minutes of hiking at a moderately brisk pace.  We had a fit group and managed to pass a lot of other groups on the way up the volcanic slopes.  Of interest, along the way, the guides all stopped in one place to do a ceremony / prayer.  Everyone was served bread and an egg boiled in a volcanic steam vent at the summit for breakfast.  Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side and we only saw sunrise for less than a minute through a brief gap in the fog.  Usually the fog lifts right before sunrise but today it was persistent.  You could tell that people were disappointed, as when it became apparent there would be no magnificent views today basically all of the groups started to head down at once.  Up until now the outing had been very organized for such a large number of people, but the way down was fairly slow due to the mass exodus.  We did manage to catch some nice views of Lake Batur when we were about half way down the mountain below the cloud deck.  Once at the bottom of the main slopes, we walked past a new temple that was under construction.  Would have had no idea this complex was there, walking by it in the middle of the night.

By the way, if you can’t find a playground, Elinka can show you how to improvise.

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