Bali: Monkeying Around in Ubud

Asia Day 20

A few days of doing absolutely nothing but drink on the beaches, had rekindled an urge to explore some culture.
We opted for a day tour up to Ubud, which would encompass a number of temples, waterfalls, rice fields and the infamous monkey monkey forest.

Crammed into a minibus, our first stop was a small outdoor amphitheater, where we observed local Balinese dance, music and story-telling. These were mostly all about dragons or cartoon faced Gods and were complimented by the same looped drum beat.

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Theatre over, we stopped at a village tapestry, filled with religious and mythical art. A lot of it was pretty cool, provoking Emily into a frenzy of whether to splash out on some or not. In the end she chose the latter, with the sense that it would be impossible to lug around without damage on a world trip.

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Further up the road we stopped for a break overlooking a waterfall, before once again heading into the villages, this time to a wood carving shop. Some of the creations were incredible, with a 20 ft crocodile carved, scale by scale, out of one stem of bark, while many others were just ridiculous!

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We continued North, this time to the rice-fields, but took an impromptu stop as a large crowd had gathered by the road. Our tour guide was keen to walk us over to observe what was a bloodied cock-fight. It was absolutely brutal! Both roosters had huge blades strapped to the ends of their talons and were forced to go all out in a battle of survival. As brutal and at times sickening as it was, it was still pretty unique to observe and be apart of this social gathering and cultivation with the locals.

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By lunch we had reached the rice fields- a stunning overlook across the stepped hillsides. We were fed noodles in a small shack, which came complete with a panoramic of the valley, now dampened by a brief rain shower.

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Lunch over, we drove to another near by rice-plantation and were this time offered a range of local coffees and teas, some that included mongoose poop- a local delicacy…It wasn’t Starbucks! Finally, before leaving for the monkey forest we were offered shots of 30% rice wine alcohol – vile stuff!

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The monkey forest was mental! The monkeys flickered between cute and funny to viscous and demanding as they snatched for food.
They walked around in gangs, fighting each-other for dominance in their free reign across a complex of moss-grown temples.
We were given bananas as a means to entice the monkeys up to our shoulders for a photo. It wasn’t the most comfortable experience!

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The completion of the monkey forest more or less concluded the day and we drove back towards Seminyak, past the onrush of villagers who, if they weren’t driving entire families on the backs of their scooters, had live chickens or meat strung to their seats for their dinners. A thoroughly enjoyable, if not mental day in the villages and the highlands! Back to the beach for sunset…One Bintang please!

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