First Stop Ubud

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End May 08, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, February 8, 2013

We hopped on our hogs (this word is used extremely loosely in this instance) and we headed north.  The problem with driving bikes in Bali is that all the streets look the same, there are few traffic lights, no street name signs but you can get lucky with some signs pointing you to the major centers.  6 bikes and 9 people in a train of bules (there is an accent on the e and this is derogatory for white tourist) head out like sore thumbs.  We had been advised that the police will pull you over and shake you down for cash so we knew this was a risk as it had already happened to a few people at the villa.  Not 45 minutes in and people were pulled over, paying off about $20 a bike to the corrupt cops we continued.  20 minutes after that we were all pulled over again and shook down for over $100.  At this point everyone was frustrated and wondering if the trip up north was a good play.  It was at this point that one of the Hindu gods sent us an offering in the form of Katut.

Sitting at a traffic light a local guy pulls up and tells me I have a nice bike.  I say thanks, he asks where we were from, where we were staying and where we were going.  We drive side by side chatting for a bit.  He says he is from Ubud (which is our first destination) and that we can follow him.  We drive and chat for a bit longer, he asks how many bikes and that he will make sure there are no more problems with the police.  He tells me he is a security guard and works night shifts and just got off.  So we start following.  He checks back all the time to make sure he hasn’t lost any of us.  He waits after turning each corner to know that the less experienced riders are still with us.  As police show interest he waves them off as if he is their superior.  For the first time we feel like we are getting somewhere in a decent amount of time.  Katut tells me that he wants to show us a few things on the way.  Winding through random roads we see some small rice fields on our right (these are the first that I have seen and they are spectacular to me).  We arrive at a stop and he says this is the waterfall.

We walk to the edge and a spectacular sight of a waterfall down in the valley below sits before us.  Over a hundred feet high we sit and have a beer and enjoy the sight.  Then Katut says we can go swim.  He guides us down to the bottom where a few of us gear down to our undies and head into the falls.  This was indescribably refreshing given the long hot ride behind us and all the setbacks we have encountered earlier in the day.  Getting out Curtis commented about how his hangover had been washed clean.  We sit up top for another beer, dry off and get dressed. And head out. 

Katut leads us back into the city and onward to a field after a few turns.  We stop and realize that we had lost Cory and Trevor k.  Katut rushes back to try and find them.  As we are sitting in this field by our bikes we get a message from Trevor that he is back at the waterfall.  I race back, see Katut on the way and we go to get the boys.  Cory is still nowhere to be found.  An hour has passed and all we can hope is that he will be able to find our hotel which he knows the name of.  So now with 5 bikes we proceed to a coffee farm.  Here we are offered 10 types of tea and coffee for free (yes I said free).  We are also allowed to try a cup of luwak for $5.  Luwak is coffee that is eaten by a mongoose digested for 24 hours and passed… yes passed… then sifted and brewed.  Obviously we had to try it and it was actually really good.  There were a few mongooses along the path. At one point Trevor asked if he could hold one and the girl said sure but it will attack you.  Hahaha… a simple no or not a good idea would have worked too.  I felt really bad that Cory being the coffee lover he is missed out on this amazing experience, so I bought him 5 packages for $20 and really was hoping he was alright.  We were then back on the bikes and Katut said he was taking us to the monkey village

We drove through such amazing jungle and rice fields on the way, all the while Katut patiently keeping our crew together.  As we arrived at the monkey place a few of us bought some Bintang and headed in with the guides.  The guides would say which monkeys were friendly and which weren’t.  He explained how many there are there and that they feed them on a strict schedule so they don’t pillage the villages.  However he also said that it was alright to feed them.  The guides said that they know each of the monkey’s faces and can tell them apart.  You have to understand that there are hundreds of them too.  The guides let the friendly ones jump from person to person on our heads and faces.  At this point I was finishing my beer and the guide asked if I wanted to give some to the monkey… hahaha.  I asked him if he was serious and he said “of course, monkeys love Bintang”.  I was dying laughing already and I set my beer (about an eighth left) on the ground in front of one of the friendly big ones.  I watched him chug the rest and set it down like a drunk.  I was on the ground laughing so hard.  Not everyone saw, so I told Trevor to give one to another monkey, he didn’t think I was serious but the guide said “give it to this little one he is nice”.  The little monkey picked up the can and started slowly pouring in his mouth, then he tipped too hard and it splashed in his face and eyes and was rattled.  I was literally crying I was laughing so hard.  This little guy did it again and again and seemed like he was really enjoying himself.  Sandy caught it all on videotape and is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.  I don’t think this is cruel, but if it is, don’t judge because I wasn’t sure and listened to the guides who love the monkeys.

It was then time to leave and Katut said he knew where our hotel was.  He guided us there and said he could come back in an hour and take us for supper.  By his word he did, the meal was good.  Cory found us and rejoined the group.  He said he had a great day at the coffee shop and on the internet and needed a slow break.  So everyone was Happy.  Katut said he would take us to a play in the morning and then show us what road to take to Lovina. 

As is his way, a man of his word, Katut was at our place at 9 am.  We went to a play which was very interesting and had a solid story line with gods and princesses and some comedy.  It was also partially a celebration for the Chinese New Year.  He then took us to what he said was the best rice field.  This did not disappoint.  It was an amazing valley followed by mountains with tiers of rice as far as you could see… simply stunning.  Katut was able to explain everything along our journey. He knew the history and was like a guide for two days.  We went for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the rice fields.  After lunch it was time to separate from our new friend.  He told us the way to go, and then hugged each of us.  He said he was so happy to have Canadian friends and said he was bragging to his family about us.  I gave him $90 ($10 each) and he told me it was unnecessary as he had learned as much from us as we had him.  I insisted and he humbly accepted.  This kind of person is rare and far between.  He is a good friend and I hope we can keep in touch.  It reminded me a lot of my friend from Saigon who will be a buddy for life. So we headed down the road suggested on our way to Lovina, where it is said that every morning dolphins can be found swimming off the coast. 
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