Piggin' out in Ubud
Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
92Trip End Apr 22, 2011
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We phoned the driver who dropped us off at Villa Rama Rama to come and collect us the next day and take us to Ubud a small village in the hills north of Kuta known for being more traditional, the cultural centre of Bali....well it was 14 years ago! The journey only took an hour and half and I recognised Monkey Forest the second we passed it ..... anyone who has been bored with our travelling photos from our last tour will remember the picture of Gary with a monkey on his head...that was Monkey Forest. The driver dropped us off at a guest house and we said our goodbyes. First I needed a shower and then a walk out to see the changes.
Centre of Ubud is two one-way streets, both about a mile long, Monkey Forest at the bottom of the hill and a large market and Ubud Palace at the top. The two streets are lined with shops, Spa's, restaurants and homestays. Other than some of the bigger named shops like Billabong, Crocs, and D&G, most of Ubud is as we remember it. We even found the place we stayed in last time we were here. The streets on the other hand have got busier, the roads have improved between here and Kuta which has made Ubud a prime destination for the day tripper. Everyday mini-bus loads of tourists come to sample the cultural delights of this special town.
We have done a lot of walking since we got here, the road is a steady walk up hill to the market and the main road, on top of that the pavements are ridiculously high with lots of driveways. Just getting to the end of the street is like an aerobic step class. There are so many wonderful things to buy here, I just can’t fit any of them in my rucksack or sneak them in Gary’s and the things that will fit I am not sure I want. They have an odd fixation on large wooden penises in Indonesia, I think it originates from a Javanese fertility dance but now they are just ornamental bottle openers.
One of the must do things is to eat at the Warung Babi Guling. They roast whole pigs and serve it up with rice, if you order the special you get a bit of everything. Tender roast pork, spicy vegetable stuffing, crispy crackling and a scrumptious blood sausage all served on a bed of rice. This has the holiday-makers queuing out the door between 11am and 3pm and worth the £2.20 it costs. I felt sorry for the dogs as I entered the restaurant, all sniffing and begging at the door. It wasn’t until we left the restaurant and spotted a smaller dog nip out from under the kitchen counter with a large piece of pig in his mouth that we saw how fat they actually were. What we thought were poor mangy, flee bitten pups were actually battle scarred hounds that are set on defending a prime eating establishment.
We had a walk down to Money Forest, having been through it before and seen the temples we didn’t fancy paying the entrance fee to get harassed by monkeys again. I still don’t trust them and there were enough monkeys at the entrance to satisfy my monkey urges. There are two ladies selling bananas to tourists for the monkeys, each lady has a big stick to fend off any monkey trying to steal her bananas. If you ask me they are asking for trouble sitting outside a sanctuary packed with monkeys selling bananas, occasionally the monkeys would make a dash for the table and have one or two bananas away. It was funny to watch. Outside every shop, house, room, etc.. is a small bamboo tray with flowers, food, water a blessing to the gods. One of the larger monkeys had a wander up the street and helped himself to all the biscuits out the offering trays as he went past. We could have watched these guys all day there we so comical.
A rainy day had us room bound for the morning, sitting on our veranda reading our books. When the rain finally stopped we ventured out and did some shopping. I have been after a hammock since we left home and they do some really nice ones here. So that was top of the shopping list, other boring things like mosquito repellent and soap where also there. With my hammock acquired and our other shopping items purchased we headed to Warung Babi Guling for some more pig.....it really is too nice for words. We spent the evening back on our veranda playing backgammon.
The Guest houses or Home Stays are in very traditional styles, most are little bungalows like ours with rooms out the back for the bathroom. Most have open air bathrooms, ours was half undercover but we have looked at rooms that have totally open bathrooms.....well I suppose it sorts out the after poo smells but I am a little uncomfortable showering without a roof, any one might be looking. Another tradition is the entrances to the homes stays. They are very ornate and have big doorways with a little shrine as you first walk in. It is often difficult to tell which ones are temples and which have rooms behind.
We hired a scooter the next morning and headed off into the hills. Our destination was unknown I just wanted a great shot of the rice fields and I wasn’t disappointed. Five minutes outside of Ubud the scenery got greener and a few fields appeared, within a mile of leaving our room there were rice fields in every direction and the views were spectacular. We were stopping every few meters to take photos and admire the sights. As we climbed higher in to the hills we came across lots of little villages all selling and making arts and crafts. All the wooden items that are for sale in the shops in ubud, Kuta, etc are made up here. There were piles of carved masks, rocking horses, wooded cats, pigs, and more, all ready for painting and then selling. Every home and shop front had someone sat outside doing some part of the carving or painting process.
The higher we went into the hills the colder it got and eventually we turned round and came back down again. On the way back down there seem to be more people around and most of them in traditional dress. People were lining the streets heading towards the temples, it all looked very spectacular and the colours were fabulous. The next town had a trail of small children with drums and chimes, two of them were dressed up as a lion (I think it was a lion), they were going from door to door offering blessings. The day ended with us visiting another delicious and a legendary food establishment. This one was called Naughty Noris and serves the tastiest and most tender ribs in Indonesia if not the world. They were mouth watering and messy and completely addictive. The portion was big enough for Gary and I to share, a monster of an Ozzie opposite us devoured two helpings and was considering a third before his six year old daughter dragged him home.
Unlike us we cut Ubud short by a day, we had planned to stay until Tuesday and get a bus and ferry all in one day. However at 2am on Monday morning we were woken up by scratching in the roof. This lasted for 2 hours, scratching and running up and down. My thoughts it was one of the bigger Gecko’s as one had been spotted on the side of our bungalow, Gary on the other hand thought rats. So the decision was made at 4am to leave the next morning and head for Padangbia the ferry port for Lombok and stay one night before taking the ferry over.