Monday, March 25, 2013

Ubud - Monkey Forest and Exploring

Our last stop on our trip was to Ubud. Which is known at the cultural/arts and crafts center of Bali and was made even more famous in the book, Eat, Pray, Love. When we arrived we were shocked at how busy, big and more like a city it felt. I was not expecting that from the yoga area of peace and tranquility to be so busy. The first day or so was a little overwhelming but after several walks around, finding some small and unique restaurants we started to feel the charm and appeal of Ubud but both agreed it would be more appealing without the kiddos. Lots of fun but laid back places to go out at night to and the abundance of yoga and meditation classes all of which are hard to do when managing the little ones. 

Our first stop in Ubud was the famous Monkey Forest. We debated for weeks before we left about going due to the risk of rabies. We read so many conflicting reports of the aggressiveness/ boldness of the monkeys. We decided to go ahead and go and be very cautious and leave if we felt it was too much or scary. We walked in, made sure all our loose items (sunglasses, hats etc) were put away, didn't buy bananas as we didn't want to attract the monkeys and walked in. They were crazy! There were so many monkeys everywhere and it didn't help that there was a stupid man in front of us teasing the monkeys and just being completely inappropriate. I was a nervous wreck and then one jumped on the backpack John was carrying to try and get at one of Graham's bottles in the side pocket and at that point I was done. We had walked about 10 feet into the forest and that was it. I was done and ready to leave. We all were laughing though how scary and overwhelming it was and made a joke of the crazy monkeys the rest of the trip. 

Graham's face completely sums up our trip to Monkey fun! We even hated walking near there at times to get to some of the shops. One day we were walking and saw a monkey run up to a lady carrying a shopping bag and start attacking the shopping bag, ripping it open for food. After that we would walk out of our way to avoid the monkeys. Crazy!

Our hotel was backed up to a rice field which was beautiful. The first night it was cloudy and rained and we loved sitting on our patio, looking at the rice fields and listening to the rain. 

We had many wonderful meals at delicious organic restaurants. They were all so kid friendly with small play areas, coloring sheets and even the staff would take the kids for walks around the restaurant to look at the fish. They especially adored Graham. 

We had lots of walks around, looking at shops and exploring. The kids got little drums that are still a hit. There were so many beautiful art carvings, fabrics and handicrafts and furniture. If I could ship stuff from there I would furnish my house with most of the things I saw. The woodwork was beautiful and so unique.

One of our favorite parts of our time in Ubud was the Galungan festival that took place while we were there. Part of the festival was the Penjors lining the road in celebration of the Galungan festival which is a celebration of the triumph of dharma over adharma. It is calculated according to the 210-day Balinese pawukon calendar and takes place on the Wednesday (Buda) of the eleventh week (Dunggulan). According to tradition, the spirits of the dead descend form heaven, to return ten days later on Kuningan. All the temples were decorated, there were smells of incense, parades of people dressed up in the ceremonial dress heading to temple to make offerings. A wonderful thing to be able to experience.

Also, part of the festival was seeing Barong dance down the streets. So many of these lions with their band would be walking around and as soon as the kids heard the music they would get so excited and look for the lion. Some of them were so beautifully decorated. Lots of fun!

 We had a good time exploring Ubud and it was a fun immersion into Bali culture! 

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