Well, sort of.
But it sounded fitting since my last post was dramatic and fraught with bad luck. 🙂
I decided to escape the drunk Swedes and Australians in Kuta and head north by minibus to the little town of Ubud. This place is still very touristy, but sleepy (things close around 22:00) and tucked away in the middle of a scorching hot jungle. There are probably more family vacationers here than budget travelers, that will probably change when everyone finishes with Uni soon.
It may be lacking backpackers, but there are monkeys. LOTS of monkeys. More monkeys than I feel comfortable having circled me at one time! For $1.50 I took a stroll through a peaceful, shady monkey sanctuary which is literally just across the street from my $5 a night guesthouse.
There are three temples inside of the sanctuary and it looks something close to Ankor Wat with vines hanging down from the canopy above. The monkeys (longtailed macques) are absolutely fearless of tourists and my “attack” consisted of one climbing up my leg with his creepy little midget fingers. Lucky for me he got distracted before he could bite, scratch, or worse and went off to pester some other travelers.
Unfortunately I couldn’t go inside of the temples because men have to wear a sarong. Proper dress is widely enforced, unlike many of the temples in Thailand. I did get some great shots of monkeys hanging out on the statues and walls though.
It was fascinating spending a couple of hours with the monkeys….they were all over the stone walkways, always vigilant and intent on stealing dangling cameras and water bottles from tourists. I must have had 30 around me at one time, which pretty much puts the odds in their favor. According to the signs, there are 3 clans that live there and since mating season is just around the corner, a few skirmishes broke out here and there. They let me pass without too much humiliation, but I did catch a couple eyeballing my Nikon.
The oddest thing I saw other than one jumping onto a German guy’s head to scratch an itch in a private area was three monkeys kill a large lizard. I took pictures of them examining the body very cautiously, only to pick a single berry out of the lizard’s mouth to eat. The poor guy died for a single berry and then they discarded the corpse.
Ubud is an interesting little town, but unfortunately it is absolutely bursting with overpriced shops and cafes. Sure, there is real Balinese culture here, but they all want to sell it to you. Since things are slow, I am constantly saying “no thank you” to offers for taxis, shows, and everything in between. Making it even more difficult is the fact that the Indonesians truly are warm and genuine, their smiles seem real unlike Thailand where it is standard issue and part of the culture. Telling these guys “no” actually makes me feel bad!
The sidewalk is the toughest to walk on I have encountered in all of Asia. Broken tiles move and shift with every step and are littered with Hindu offerings which I try not to kick. Lying just under the tiles is a festering sewer anxiously waiting for a traveler’s foot. Walking 100 meters in flip-flops is a challenge in itself, so it looks like everyone is walking with their heads hanging in gloom or exhaustion. On the contrary, I’ve seen a lot of smiles around here.
A few days here and I’ll thumb my way east to the coast and then catch a boat to Lombok, the next island. Aside from this being the hottest and most humid place on the globe I could be sitting in, it is wonderful. The jungle is a package deal – you get thrills and beauty with green smells of life all around, but you get the insects and sweat too.
As I sit here in a little cafe writing this, I have to knock a mozzie off my laptop screen every two minutes and ants have already set up a new colony in my keyboard. An Indonesian guy is playing guitar and singing John Denver’s “leaving on a jetplane….don’t know when I’ll be back again”.
Sounds like a damn good plan to me.