Common to many who visit Bali, our internal clocks were reset as we awoke with the sun and the cacophony of hundreds of roosters! We enjoyed tea each morning from our guesthouse balcony and tried to do a bit of yoga to start off our day of activities.
On our first day here we went on a long day hike with our two Dutch friends. Our first stop was the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary - home of the grey-haired macaques. Monkeys are a very important part of Balinese culture and are represented in dances, statues, carvings and folk tales. The rest of our walk took us through some of Ubud and the surrounding green rice paddies. Gorgeous countryside!
On our last day we rented a motorbike and went in search of some unique, hand carved Balinese masks which are central to the Balinese culture. "Mask masters" were found south in a town called Mas. We explored and met many mask masters (mask carving is passed down from father to son), tried on many elaborate and impressive masks and found two to take home (not pictured - wait and see!). At the end of the day we headed north to see thousands of herons roosting in the trees at sunset. No one knows why they chose these trees to settle in, but the locals are glad they did as they are thought to bring good luck (they certainly bring in a few more tourists anyway).
Other highlights of Ubud included getting more familiar with Balinese life and culture, and seeing the Balinese dance performances (see next entry).
Ubud is everything we expected and more. We spent much of our time here just trying to soak in the surroundings; from the hundreds of temples, shrines, deity statues to the immaculately kept gardens and the karma-centric Balinese with their daily offerings and prayers. Often the offerings were so abundant that if you didn't look down frequently you would surely step on one. And Ubud - Holy New Age! with the number of spiritual shops, classes, and westerners seeking all things new age - this place could be a sister city to San Francisco.