Markets, Volcanoes, Temples and of course Bikes!

Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
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12
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Trip End Dec 21, 2009


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Where I stayed
Some little Homestay down an even littler road

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Wednesday, September 9, 2009



I feel I have to stop using the words - amazing, stunning, exquisite, beautiful and any other positive descriptive word I’ve used excessively in my Bali blogs so far but I’m afraid I’m not carrying around a thesaurus in my rucksack and Bali simply is all the above and more. Ubud was no exception. In fact it was quite exceptional! It was more touristy than the previous few days but unfortunately when there’s a place of interest in the world that generally happens. It’s made me realise quite how lucky my Granny was when she came out to these places like Bali and Peru and got to see them for what they were and not what the western world has created out of them.

Ubud is the craft and culture core of Bali. There are more artists and crafts people than you could possibly count and many a European has found them selves nestled nicely into the hills surrounding the town in search of a more chilled and artistic life. Reading ‘Love, Eat, Pray’ was a huge insight into Ubud and it didn’t disappoint. The art and crafts were irresistible, the food was divine and the monkeys the highlight! I also discovered the key to any street kids heart was to carry around a packet of sweets at all times! That also worked with the monkeys as Miriam found out but not as intentionally.

On our bikes we climbed again and set off on search of some spiritual enlightenment. We headed up to a water temple which would have been so special had a coach load of Chinese tourists not turned up just as we were settling into the mood. Posing for photos and making peace signs and jabbering away in rapid Chinese isn’t generally conducive to the atmosphere of a temple so we left after a while and headed to this other one a few kilometres away. It reminded me much more of Peru. And it wasn’t just the steps that did that - just the whole atmosphere. It was quite a chore to get down to the temple due to the high numbers of women trying to force you into buying a sarong for the temple. It was crazy. Got a few little things like a new ring to replace my shattered wooden one but between them Sarah, Stephen and Miriam had the sarong front well covered with enough material to cover up an entire village if needed. This temple was a little quieter and the stone carvings in the hill side were amazing. There were Paddy fields all the way down the steps which led down to the carvings and it was a great chance to see them up close as we usually just whizzed past them on our bikes occasionally stopping but not being able to get too close to them so it was a great chance.

The climb back up was taxing and we were in good need of a feed by the top. Luckily the women obviously were used to tired and snappy people making it back up to the top of the stairs and so the sarongs were only mentioned a hand full of times and only got grabbed by the arm and dragged into one little shop which I resisted by strict orders of my stomach. Found a lovely little spot for lunch and then the drive back to Ubud proved very craft filled with the most amazing bits and bobs for sale and being made on the side of the street.

We arrived back into Ubud at the monkey forest end and so headed in to take a look. They were hilarious. Such funny creatures. I learnt not to touch their tales after about 2 minutes in there when I stroked one and he hissed and spat at me and I thought it best not to push it. His teeth were sharper than mine. So we were wandering around minding our own business when Miriam suddenly got jumped. By a monkey. It was hilarious. She didn’t know what to do. The little thing actually managed to get into her bag, rob her mentos sweets before taking off back into the trees. There was nothing you could do either as you were scared to knock them off incase they bit and so you had to sort of just let them at it. Also we were all laughing way too hard to be of any use. She was obviously flavour of the month as another two then jumped on board and one settled on top if her head and with one hand patted her face absent mindedly while playing with her sunglasses with the other. This was the end of us and we could barely take photos with the tears streaming down our faces. Miriam on the other hand wasn’t quote seeing the funny side as with one monkey on her head and another swinging off her side she was in a rather compromising position. When she finally got rid of them it was me who was their next target. One took a running jump at me from behind and climbed up me and into my bag. It then decided the beads I was wearing looked nice and edible and so tried to munch those and take them off me. Shook him off them so he turned his attention to my bag and attempted to climb in. In the end to stop him running off with anything I had to half drop my bag and just shake it until I was monkey free. We made a quick exit to the outskirts of the forest and to safety. Advising anyone we saw along the way not to go the way we had just come from.

We eventually braved the forest again and headed to the more people populated part where the monkeys were a little more relaxed and less interested in jumping on you. Still had a few encounters - another took a fancy to my beads and I eventually had to take them off and put them in my bag and Sarah also ended up with one on her head. But it was great to see the mums with the babies and it was then feeding time so they were all then a little preoccupied thankfully. Giving us the chance to observe uninterrupted! They provided many an hour of entertainment! We then headed out for the most amazing Japanese meal - so good - I think it’s about safe to say it’s my favourite food ever. It’s been growing on me for a number of years but that meal just confirmed it for me.

We embarked on our next adventure Aussie free. It was a shame but Stephen wasn’t feeling 100% as he was still recovering from a Bali tummy and then sun burn and then sun burnt lips on top and so was feeling a little delicate so me and Miriam set off at 2am to climb the volcano Batur without them. We had a funny German guy with us as well as our slightly strange guide. Very nice but his lack of English led to whatever he said sounding very abrupt and just got a little trying towards the end of the hike as instead of trying to explain things in English he seemed to find it easier to just grab one of us and point us in the general direction of what was of interest. There have been so many times I wished I spoke the language so much or at least everyone spoke Spanish - I feel really at a disadvantage over here without the language after getting so use to being able to communicate to some degree with everyone in South America and it just makes me feel horribly ignorant over here without a clue as to what’s going on. And to make it worse I reckon as Asian languages go Indonesian would be pretty easy to pick it up and the people would appreciate so much. Even a simple ‘thank you’ in Indonesian and people’s faces just light up! It’s wonderful. This morning was definitely one of those times I could have done with the local language.

Anyway back to the volcano. We stopped off for breakfast at the base of the volcano and then had a hike of about two and a half hours in the dark up the side of Mt Batur. I quite liked hiking in the dark as you had to concentrate so much on where to place you feet with the limited light from a very small torch that you became less concerned with how much further there was to go. It was a steep but short climb but the footing was difficult at times as it was mainly ash and volcanic material that was spat out in the last eruption in the 60’s. The stars were out of this world that night and it was a very enjoyable climb all in all. We had second breakfast (true hobbit style) on arrival at the crater and then sat and waited for the sun to rise. Reckon we got to the top at 6ish after overtaking most of the groups on the way up much to both our surprises and so had a nice breather of half an hour before the sun began to rise at 6.30. It was a beautiful sunrise with the cloud keeping it’s distance for the most part. As the actual sun came over the horizon some not so obliging clouds swept across it but as this was about the time the monkeys appeared I was preoccupied watching them and so wasn’t too bothered. Once we could see what was going on and were in less immediate danger of falling down the crater we went for a hike around it. We had a good few opportunities to stand in spots with nice warm steam rising from them and at times the ground was almost too hot to touch which was exciting! The longer route down resulted in getting some spectacular views of the whole crater which we didn’t realise we were even in until the sun came up. Basically we were already in a crater about 120km wide and then there were lots of little volcanoes (or not so little in the case of the one we had just climbed or Agung which is bigger still) with the most recent eruption as recent as 1973. It was a completely different Bali to anything we had seen before and was a thoroughly enjoyable morning.

We were back in Ubud by 10am and so after a little nap we packed up and got ready to head on that evening. We bid Sarah and Stephen sad goodbyes and there are hopeful plans to see them again in Perth in a few months. Which I think also needs a little explaining! So instead of coming home as planned in October after a year I have decided to max out my possible travelling time and extend it until Christmas! Which means another 7 weeks here in Asia and then I’m going to head back to Perth for a couple of months to work again before heading back to Ireland for the 21st of December - just in time for Christmas. There are a number of reasons I’ve made the decision but the main one is - why not? The New Year is a far better time to sort my life out and so after many weeks/months of consideration I bit the bullet in Ubud and sacrificed my lovely BA flight in October for a Ryanair equivalent budget flight home in December for ridiculously little money. Ahh to be young and free I thought as I clicked the buy button on my flights back to Oz and then London and finally Cork.

Which concludes my adventures in Ubud really. The markets were spectacular with all sorts of hand crafted ‘buy me’ goodies and the temptation to blow all my savings in a few days on mountain loads of pretty things was prevalent but the new reality of travelling until Christmas kept my feet on the ground and wallet in my bag (for the most part).

And then all to soon we headed off for Sanur on the East coast with hopes to reunite with the other two in Perth as I said, as hopefully our dates should coincide!
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