Where We Be
|One monkey contemplates what mischief he can get into next
while the other brazenly rifles my pockets in search of goodies
|Ubud Walkable Sights -- Bali, Indonesia
Ubud is Bali's cultural capital. Located in the
cool uplands, it makes a perfect base for
exploration since it's smack-dab in the middle
of ancient temples, terraced rice paddies, and
Hindu shrines. You could easily spend a month
or more in Ubud and not see everything there
is to see. In our five days we visited the Sacred
Monkey Forest, saw two museums (ARMA and
Antonio Blanco), and hiked along Campuhan
Ridge -- all walkable from our lodgings. We also
went on two full day tours of surrounding rice
terraces and temples. And by sheer chance we
happened to arrive at the tail end of Galungan,
one of the year's biggest festivals -- lucky us!
Tops on our Ubud walkable list was the Sacred
Monkey Forest Sanctuary. This lush jungle
preserve is known for its large population of
free-roaming macaques. If you sit still, the
monkeys may come right up to you and sit on
your shoulder -- or head! They may groom your
hair and will most certainly try to pick your
pockets! I had three monkeys on me at one
point, and I’ll never forget the sound of velcro
tearing open as they ransacked my pockets!
But I'd been forewarned and brought nothing
for the little scoundrels to steal.
|Blanco is famous for his
paintings of the "eternal feminine"
|A second popular museum is the Blanco Renaissance Museum. Antonio Blanco was an artist of Spanish
descent who married a local Balinese dancer and built this distinctive house and museum in Ubud.
|Campuhan Ridge Walk starts right from town. We got going early around 6:30 am.
Right near the beginning of the trail you'll pass this Hindu temple with tall pagodas
and mossy green walls hidden in the jungle. Quite the dramatic Indiana Jones setting.
|After an initial climb along a stone-paved path, you'll reach the top of a ridge and the hike's name
will begin to make sense. From here it's mostly level walking with fine views in both directions.
|Take your time and enjoy the green countryside, the occasional
palm tree, and even a small village tucked away from the world
|This picturesque village is located at the top of Campuhan Ridge and is reachable primarily
on foot or by motorcycle. You'll find small art shops here and a few spas and restaurants.
|Karsa Kafe & Spa is the main attraction in town. This is a common end point for the
hike, although the trail continues for quite a ways afterwards to another village.
|Just beyond the cafe are some lovely rice fields. We walked back home along the same route.
The hike was about 2½ miles each way, or 5 miles altogether, including the walk through Ubud.
|We walked a bit past Karsa Kafe then returned for homemade papaya banana smoothies while relaxing in
this private hut perched over the water. The pond was filled with fish and lotus flowers -- what a serene setting.
|Galungan is a ten-day Balinese festival marking the time when the spirits of deceased relatives return to visit
their former homes. Current inhabitants show their hospitality by making offerings suspended at the end of
tall bamboo poles (penjor). We saw penjor in every town and village we passed through, including Ubud itself.
|We arrived in Ubud on the last day of celebrations, known as Kuningan, when the spirits depart.
At dinner that evening, we watched a "closing ceremonies" parade pass directly below us.
|Even on non-festival days Ubud feels celebratory with so many doorways,
temples, and historic buildings adorned with rich decorations and art
|We stayed at Santana Homestay for just $30 per night. Its quiet but central location was perfect and its
included breakfasts outstanding -- especially the green pancakes with bananas and chocolate sprinkles.
|A fifteen minute walk brought us to the Sacred Monkey Forest
with its moss-covered temples hidden away in the jungle
|Entrance is relatively inexpensive at Rp 50,000 (~$4 US) each, and the sanctuary is open
daily from 8.30 am to 6 pm. We recommend arriving early to beat the heat and crowds.
|Have a seat and wait for them to approach and you should soon have company.
Though not without some risk, I was told if you stay calm and don't shout or
swat at them or try to keep them from stealing stuff, you should be okay!
|You'lll see plenty of monkey families
interacting with each other in loving ways
|Women with purses are particularly popular. These three monkeys
are determined to find out what's in this young woman's white purse.
|Macaques have the most expressive features --
and sometimes startlingly human behaviors
|We watched this monkey vigorously pushing a round rock over leaves, then
tasting the leaves to see if they were "done." A gourmet chef in the making!
|A big male sits next to a staff member and
politely asks to have a look at his smartphone
|This "action shot" shows big brother making a playful leap at little
brother, with mama putting a protective hand on the youngster
|Little brother decides to stick a little closer to mama after that!
|Moments later little brother is happily having a snack with big brother's help
|Mama looks at us as if to say, "Kids!"
|Others are too busy getting groomed and
scratched to interact with silly humans
|This one bares her teeth at a male as if to say "Back off!"
|Most of the time the monkeys are too busy doing their own thing to bother with us,
like drinking from water fountains. You know, typical wild monkey behavior.
|Don't forget to appreciate the jungle sanctuary
itself, which is incredibly lush and beautiful
|It's important to remember these are still mostly wild animals. Posted signs
remind you how to behave properly around the monkeys to avoid problems.
|If this doesn't look like a scene right out of
"Tomb Raider," I don't know what does!
|Later that afternoon we visited the highly rated Agung Rai Museum
of Art (ARMA) -- again, only about fifteen minutes away on foot
|ARMA is an interesting amalgam of art museum, garden,
and hotel. These were two of our favorite works of art.
|The buidings on the premises are gorgeous in their own right
|The gardens and grounds are extensive. You'll descend multiple
staircases before you reach this stream and a nearby rice paddy.
|The place feels luxurious in an Old World sort of way and is fun to wander through. The whole time we were there,
a class was learning how to play gamelon music, so traditional Balinese sounds accompanied our wandering.
|Your Rp 80,000 (~$6 US) entry fee gives you access to two different
buildings filled with Balinese art as well as the lush grounds themselves
|Your entry ticket includes free coffee or tea at this lovely on-premises
restaurant. We enjoyed iced coffees while appreciating the view.
|Some penjor are quite elaborate and
remain in place even after the festival
|You probably won't get more than a few feet into
the sanctuary before spying your first monkeys
|They tend to use the paved trails
as their own personal playground
|You'll find almost as many moss-covered
statues here as you will monkeys
|We had the place pretty much
to ourselves from 4 to 6 pm
|Come as much for the grounds and architecture as for the paintings. We liked
this museum but not as much as ARMA, so if time is limited, visit ARMA.