Scooters & Monkeys

Trip Start Mar 26, 2009
Trip End Jul 18, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Today was the day to get out there and explore a little, the red eye flight and the
humidity had restricted us to Kuta yesterday but now it was time to see a
little of Bali. After negotiating a scooter from our hotel, and getting some
local advice from another guest we were soon on our way. With
elena griping on to the back and me trying to weave my way through the traffic we managed to get to the outskirts of town where we filled up the tank
for a whopping 1 euro and sped off in search of some temple action! From arriving
in the taxi yesterday i had witnessed the madness of the roads, it was just a
swarm of scooters of all shapes and sizes carrying anything from a whole family
to having 200 wicker baskets strategically balanced all over them. It sounds mad but i
suppose there is some kind of method as in you just have to go with it, i was
using my indicators to give warning and trying to offer space to on coming
traffic to cross junctions when i realised that i was the only one and was
probably best to concentrate on the many pot holes that have to swerve by instead. I thought that it would be a little more scary blasting along at 60km on
a moped as you slalom between traffic that moves in swarm fashion but it was
actually so surreal i found myself with a permanent grin on my face which was
beamed back by all in a typical Balinese fashion.

The temple we were heading to was about an hour away and as soon as we cleared Kuta the
traffic became less and less dense with the roads opening up to reveal large rice fields in-between villages. This was my first time that i had ever seen one and it
rang home that now we were actually in Asia. The ride became a blur of wonderful
statues of goddesses and demons that were nested in every village we passed along
with these large submerged acres of green that were being harvested. As we drew
closer to Tanah Lot we passed through another village, typical in that it
seemed full of life with a mix of colourful people going about their business. Amongst the curious infrastructures of shrines and housing of all
descriptions we spotted a ceremony that we had to stop to check out. There
were maybe 30 people all dressed in colourful attire sitting crossed legged playing a an
almost Asian version of the tubular bells sound with a memorising collection of instruments
which were struck in a even more interesting fashion. On the other side of the
road women appeared from another temple like building with colourful embroidered
pillows on their heads which crossed over and went into the patio that was behind
the group. They were sat in the garden of a house but i gestured to take a
photo they invited us in, allowing me to take photos from where ever i liked.
When they were finished they explained that it was a baptism of a boy and
this was their offer to him, as always they were super friendly and let us stay
a while to listen even offering us some water, a nice experience.

From there we went straight to Tanah Lot which we had been told was a real highlight of Bali from Dani the guest from Jakarta that morning. He was right as what we
found was a large temple that had been built onto an island that was only accessible at a certain time of the day when the tide was low. It was like
something out of a movie, an ancient wonder sitting there on the ocean as the
waves broke all around it. There was the usual swarm of tourists that always
detract from the experience but what was funny this time is that with them
being mostly Asian every now and then you would catch them taking photos of us,
with the more brave asking to have photos taken with us. I guess we are as
strange to them as they are to us. There were other temples and shrines scatted
over the coast line which sat on varies parts of the cliff ranging from the
scenic to the dramatic, all around as always were the little offerings of rice,
flowers, biscuits and sometimes cigarettes all with the same aroma of incense
sticks coming from them. A very cool place to begin exploring of which i am
glad we got to see as the guide we have the whole of south east asia
gives it very little coverage, just goes to show that its always better to ask the locals.

Next stop was Alas Kedaton, a temple that was hidden away in a semi jungle and was
surrounded by monkeys and bats. As we turned off down the road the sign that
displayed a large image of them both was not to be taken lightly as even as we
arrived the car park was over run of by the little baboon like things scattered
all inbetween the cars and bikes muching on everything from fruit to food left
by tourists. On entering the place we were given a guide that took us around
the grounds of the temple as the monkeys ran around us. The guide was there to
stop us from being over run by the things which are considered holy here and as we could buy them food of which they were
clearly used to so much in fact that as soon as the little bag of peanuts was
purchased they ran across with some even climbing up on you. I wasnt too
bothered about this but Elena freaked a little bit, i soon realised why as
soon of them became quite agressive, bearing their teeth to get some more
treats. As i had a large one on my back he worked his way to my shoulder where
i felt a whaft of hot breath hit my neck, our guide gave a bit of a whack with
a stick and got off, it was only as i saw the photo later that had been taken i
realised why... wont be doing that again especially as if you get bit its a 48 hour dash to Jakarta for the rabies shot. Pure monkey buisness i guess but
anyway made for some cool photos. Also in the grouds were the bats, in Melbourne you become used to seeing bats flying over you at night but i had
never seen them at this size and in true asian style this was played to an
advantage to get some cash out of the tourists. I can remember seeing a video
on youtube where a guy had an aligator in a zoo and impressed the crowd by
sticking his head in its mouth which was prised open by a stick... that was
until it snapped! This is why i declined the offer to hold the demon with a
wing span of about 2 metres
as the guide did, opting instead just to feed them some juice, agian some cool
photos. Even more impressive when we were guestered to look up to see them
all hanging in the roof of the jungle. I looked over at an Aussie guy to see if
he had seen them only to realise he was with a massive snake around his neck
that disabled him from looking up as he grimiced under the weight of the beast ...
f**king asia baby!

The last call of the day was a temple to the very south of the island called Umuwata, that we thought we
may have to do another day due to the distance but we had covered more ground
than expected on the moped so we decided to tick it off as well. The journey was
a mixture of little village roads followed by a dual carriage which ran a fair
distance to the south as it passed through Denpensar. Again the swarm of the
traffic remained the same no matter of what roads we hit, it just became
denser. Even on this major road there was the mixture of people doing a circus
balancing act while weaving along, i think the highlights were a 5 metre bit of bamboo being
carried and triangle shaped mountain of swarking chicken baskets being riden by two people. The temple to
the south was set along a cliff face which looked out over the west facing
ocean enjoying a water sunset ever evening. There were about 100 steps to climb,
also with a large community of the sacred monkeys, to the main section to where a large ceremony
was being held with the men all dressed in white and the women with colour
sarongs with offerings balanced on their heads. We were also told to wear a
sarong as it was the request of the temple to have your legs covered. We
mingled around for a while watching the ceremony as the people were blessed and
then prayed or gave an offering. As always the people were super friendly and
did not seem to take offence to the swarms of tourists that explored there
temple, they had however sectioned a part of but even so if you talked to them
they would happily let you take their picture or explain events to you. From
there it was back to Kuta as the sky was blackening by the minute spoiling the
chance of seeing the sunset and threatening some tropical rain and with it
being just the second time i had rode a moped i wasnt quite sure if i was ready
to tackle that yet in the dark. As we got back to the Hotel we were glas we left when we did as the heavens opened followings a deafening roll off thunders, guess thats why they call it the wet season.

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