Monday, 1 October 2012

Day One in Ubud

Roosters should have snooze buttons, or at least the decency not to begin crowing at 3 am and every few minutes after that, until the sun actually comes up three hours later.
Our first day in Bali really began with the delivery of breakfsst to our rooms: fresh tropical fruit, coffee and coconut crepes. We ate alfresco on our small balcony, overlooking orchids, frangipani and ancient clay tiled roofs. Humidity had me melting most of the day, but we persevered through the steamy tropical heat.
Our first challenge was extracting rupeahs from an ATM, turning $100 Aus into $1,000,000 Indonesian. As " millionaires", we walked a few blocks to the famed Monkey Forest, where primates reined supreme. Mossy stone temples, streams and jungle vines mocked movie sets that try to recreate the authentic. Kees and Gina enjoyed visiting with the hairy beggars, but I preferred to keep a healthy distance from their bared fangs and grabby little paws. Despite my intentions, monkeys still grabbed at my legs and bag, but did no harm, as I kept moving on. There were ample chances for Kodak Moments during our 2 hour visit.
A 2km stroll down Monkey Forest Road followed as we searched for a vegetarian cafe. One diversion, through hibiscus and frangipani gardens of a lovely little hotel, yielded a photo op with a real fruit bat, which was just hanging in a tree. Amazing!
Temperatures and humidity felt very
high, but a brief stop for a scoop of mango gelato helped. Gina did a spot of shopping. Eventually, we found a suitable lunch place with free wifi. Cool watermelon juices for us and a large Bintang beer for Kees we're divinely welcomed. Clear Cafe had a zen-like vibe and an interesting menu, with a resident kitten as well. All was good!
Refreshed and recharged, we continued on our muggy way, hunting for any familiar landmark on a road full of foreign words and look-alike shops. Touts and pleas to enter into many shops were incessant, as were the calls, "Taxi? I give you good price!!
Another iced watermelon juice was required in transit.
We eventually made it back to Jangkrik, but we had to ask directions to get there. It's entrance seemed to be camouflaged by sarong and t-shirt shops!
An afternoon nap followed by a cool shower rounded out the day. We returned to Warung Labalaba Restaurant for a delicious dinner that we had  hardly earned, taking time to savour each bite. A nonstop stream of Balinese women passed by, on their way to Full Moon Celebrations, with remarkable towers of fruit offerings balanced on their heads. Traditional lace jackets and gorgeously colored sarong skirts completed their appearance. Men also wore sarongs, but usually of darker colors, with headwraps and jackets as well. We had been invite to visit the neighborhood temple by Made, the patriarch of Jangkrik Homestay. It required all of us wearing sarongs as well, which we were not prepared for at that time. Simply watching the steady parade of color down the street and hearing the joyously clanging instrumental was enough to us, after our long, hot day.  We were pleased to get back to our rooms to shower once again, then visit with David, a new friend from Amsterdam,  before   ending the day.

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