Terrorizing the Sacred Monkey Forest

Trip Start Oct 09, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oh, how it's been so long. I'm so sorry I've been gone. I was busy swashbuckling through southeast Asia, creating new stories for you! You don't have to worry, I'm still the same guy I was when I last updated this blog. You don't have to worry you don't have to worry you don't.

Seriously, I am writing this on February 12th, long after the events about to be described. What happened is that my script reading job kicked back into high gear in the new year, which has eaten up all the time I would have used to write detailed journal entries. As long as I have several scripts to read each week, my journal entries will most often have to take the form of abbreviated highlights.

So. My next stop was Ubud, the spiritual, cultural, and artistic center of Bali, and the place where the unlikable protagonist of Eat, Pray, Love spent the last four months of her journey.

--The town is full of art museums and galleries. My favorite was the former home of a deceased Spanish painter named Antonio Blanco, who specialized in playful and imaginative erotic art, with a particular fixation on female Balinese subjects and their bare breasts. A magazine article about Blanco that was on display claimed that Balinese breasts were world famous. A useful piece of information I had not been made aware of.

--Here's something that never gets old: looking at monkeys! In the center of Ubud is a big area known as the Sacred Monkey Forest which is home to a famous temple and two or three hundred monkeys. There are signs everywhere suggesting that visitors put away small objects so the monkeys can't sneak up and steal them. And of course there are always idiots who fail to heed the warnings. I took particular satisfaction in seeing a nimble adolescent monkey jump onto a Russian tourist's shoulders, snatch the sunglasses the guy had stupidly left on his head, and then proceed to tear the glasses apart.

--Along with half the city's population, I sat and watched a soccer game which a banner proclaimed was the Pendantangel Cup. It was bad soccer in muddy conditions but the crowd reacted to every play as though the outcome was of grave importance. I stayed for most of the game but never saw any goals scored.

--I got the chance to see the traditional kechak dance, which I've been fascinated with ever since seeing it in the glorious documentary Baraka. I couldn't follow the plot, which centered around seven colorfully attired characters, but I loved it anyways. That was followed by a fire dance, in which a guy riding a fake horse pranced around barefoot on flaming coconut shells. Ouch.

--I took my motorbike up to the top of active volcano Mount Batur and had lunch at a restaurant with an exceedingly fetching view. Along the way up the mountain, I stopped at several temples, including the famous Elephant Caves.

--Lastly, I took a day trip to a town called Lovina on the north side of the island, which was empty, beautiful, and as-yet unspoiled.

Reading: The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
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