Ubud - I used to be a backpacker.

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Jun 27, 2009

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, May 8, 2009

It's hard to describe how nice Ubud is without sounding smug, but it really is that nice. I guess it's because here you find a spectacular fusion of tradition and modernity in a friendly (and cheap) atmosphere. I can't believe how nice it is to sleep sound in your amazing hotel, eat gorgeous food, see incredible sights and pay so little. I'll start with the hotel. As Charlotte and I are celebrating four years of being together we splashed out on a 15 pound room, this is expensive by Bali standards, yet middle of the road for anywhere else we've been. We're enjoying a huge room, with hot water, veranda, air-con, pool, breakfast and a pet gecko the size of a cat nesting in our room. Anywhere else we've been would be charging double (we're lucky it's low season).

Usually such ritzy places are completely devoid of culture, not here. On our first night we took in a traditional Balinese dance show. Frankly it was pretty weird. The haunting music was accompanied by sinister looking monsters that jerked around using elegant hand gestures and wild leg movements. The show lasted about an hour and was worth every penny (although an English penny here is worth about 0.000000588 Rupiahs).

Our hotel is a short walk to Monkey Forest Road, home of ..... the Monkey Forest. At the gate I bought a bunch of bananas and have never felt so intimidated in my life. The monkeys lurched toward me with wide eyes and suddenly lunged at my shorts, tugging the bottoms. Some even demanded two, cheeky gits. Once i'd hurriedly distributed the death-trap we had a good time, the monkeys were no longer interested. The forest is a really good setting as the old-style bridges and walls make great hang-outs for the monkeys, you feel like an intruder in a lost civilization took over by the little critters.

On the final day we took a trip to the Batur Volcano and lake and stopped at a few temples on the way. It's been a while since we've been to any temples so they feel new and interesting again. Among the many we visited, the Hot Springs Temple was the best; the locals are celebrating full moon and were on a sort of pilgrimage. They all showed up with offerings and empty jugs to be filled with holy water. Amongst the madness and crowds many of them took a bath in the communal pool and said prayer, it resembled a scene on the banks of the Ganges (I would have took a dip but didn't want to offend anyone, it's baking hot, again!) .

When we arrived at the Volcano the rain had set in, big time, making views a little sketchy to say the least. Why does this always happen to us? Table Mountain, Penang Hill, and now here. We had some lunch and the rain subsided a little, the photos aren't great but I guess you had to be there. Finally before heading home we stopped at the impressive rice terraces that make intricate patterns on the landscape, it's a visually beautiful form of farming.

The only down-side to Ubud is the persistent harassment by taxi touts, but i'm more than willing to put up with it.

P.s - I feel I should explain that the photos of me wearing a sarong are nothing to do with a new lifestyle i've chosen, they are simply worn out of respect in the temples (Please believe me!).
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