Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bali Break - 2

Bottom End of Ubud
So after Kuta we moved on to Ubud, away from the coast. We hired a taxi-van to take us up to Ubud and show us around a bit on the way.

The driver chappie was a bit short of ideas of what to show us on the way. He stopped and picked up a lady-friend who was really nice and friendly but couldn't speak enough English to have a worthwhile conversation.

He did stop at a (free entry) temple on the way. We clambered out and had a little look (but we are pretty much templed-out!)

All of the statues and shrines have this little modesty (?) skirt - I wasn't really trying to peek underneath, I was trying to read the sign.

Ubud is still very touristy, but much more Arty-Farty ... well, quite pleasant anyway compared to Kuta. The streets are small and windy, and there are lots of foreigners, but the sellers are not quite so aggressive. The shops are full of beautiful wood carvings and other artworks, and there are lots of lovely restaurants.

We stayed in a small hotel called Kamandhani Cottage - also very new, and only 12 rooms. Our driver was really shocked when he finally found the 'road' to the hotel, just a very bumpy dirt track - he was a bit scared to take his nice car down there.

Our second floor room looks out over a pleasant little pool, and the rice paddy next door.

And, of course we have a nice little balcony.

Kamandhani is sort of at the bottom-end of Ubud, and we walked up through the town to find food as the cottage only has a breakfast bar and no restaurant - although they will order in a pizza from a nearby shop.

 There is a complicated one-way street system, and to further complicate matters the local people are building up to an important Hindu ceremony. There are decorations everywhere, and the occasional procession like this one. The chaps in back lava-lavas seem to be some sort of special ceremonial traffic cops - they have a big word (in Indonesian) on the back of their T-Shirts.

 It's all very colourful and very noisy musical!

We found a restaurant called Arma for lunch.

 Very airy,  open and cool. I always have trouble finding something that I can eat without it being too spicy (chili). I thought 'grilled chicken sandwich' sounded plain enough, but in the end was delighted with this interesting (but non-spicy) sandwich.

At the Arma resort they also have a kind of art museum and they put on cultural dances most evenings. So we went to see one.

 The musicians were amazing, using a range of percussion instruments and whistles/flutes that are unfamiliar to us.

 The lovely ladies danced gracefully ...

 ... but really it was all about the faces and the eyes.

The stories behind the dances were fairly obvious even without words and explanations.

So ... what's up with him??

We had thought about hiring a car and driving ourselves around ... before we had a really good look at the roads and the traffic! They do drive on the left, when there is a left to drive on. There is also an endless variety of non-traffic items to skirt around and avoid.

So we asked for a driver to take us on some tours, and after our first "1/2-day tour" we felt like we had seen all of Bali.

Our driver, Yogi, took us to the 'Luwak Coffee and Spices Plantation'. It was very interesting.

 This sleepy critter, a "luwak" - a bit like a civet - likes to eat the coffee fruit, beans and all, and then the beans can be retrieved whole from their droppings. The coffee made from these (washed) beans has a changed, apparently very special taste.

 There were lots of other spicy plants to see as well, like this vanilla plant.

And then we got to taste a whole range of their delightful products. It was cool and pleasant in the plantation area, very relaxing.

Then we went to see the Botanical Gardens.

 A pleasant outing.

We had been talking with Yogi along the way about various fruits, and especially how we like durian. Suddenly we saw some at a road-side stall, and Yogi said he would try to bargain for us.

 We bought one, but despite our careful choosing it was a bit dry and not very sweet - picked from the tree and not allowed to ripen and fall.

This little chap was all chained up to his perch, and very glad of some companionship and a bit of fruit.

Rice Paddy Fields

Peter was keen to see some real rice paddies, so Yogi took us to a favourite spot at the top of the hill where we could feast our eyes and even wander through.

Like everywhere else we have been, this village was making money by charging tourists to enter and take photos of their fields.

Watching the Sunset
There is a favourite spot where everyone goes to watch the sun set behind a temple. So ... why not?

 There were masses of people there - all having paid their money to enter here, and all walking around with their digital devices ...

It was quite picturesque of course. And the local people had set up their stalls to catch some profit from the tourists that flock here every evening.

We were tired and happy after our half-day tour, and flopped around in the pool and wandered up to the shops and cafes for the next day.

The Volcano

Then we thought we should see the volcano, because that is what everyone does. So we called on Yogi again and he took us out to the volcano.

Yeah - nice, ay?

So then Yogi suggested he could take us to see a waterfall. So he took us along even smaller, narrower roads through tiny villages. As he weaved his way between children, animals, people pushing various carts, motorbikes ... he started getting really chatty with the people he passed. Suddenly he said, "This is my village. Do you want to see  my house?" Wow. We felt so honoured.

Yogi's House

It's hard to imagine how people live in a place like this. Yogi turned down a narrow lane.

 Here is the front gate, with his nephew playing on a bike. The schools have two separate sessions (early morning till lunch, and afternoon) and the children attend one or the other - it's like two separate schools in one building. They don't learn English at school - Yogi learnt it 'from the tourists' in his years as a driver.

 Yogi and his brother both live in this compound.
He introduced us to his lovely wife.

 He has some pigs in a pen.

 And there were various birds and poultry in various cages and the like.

 And that is Yogi's actual living quarters in the back left there.
It all had a nice open, airy, friendly, relaxed feel about it. Ideal for the general Bali lifestyle.

Then we went on to see the waterfall.

 Lovely, ay?

Working Rice Paddies

Out near Yogi's village we went past some rice paddies that we didn't have to pay to look at.

 Here we saw real people up to their shins in the muddy water, planting their rice seedlings.

The Monkey Forest

I gather there are quite a few of these places around Bali. (One chap was bemoaning the loss of his prescription glasses, snatched by monkeys.

There is a monkey forest right in the middle of Ubud, and we decided to go in there for a quick look. We paid for our ticket, and then bought a couple of bunches of bananas (at a rather exorbitant rate for this place) from the lady at the gate. She said 'if you see a monkey, give him a banana'. Well, okay.

As we wandered in a few little monkeys started trotting towards us.

 This little one seemed grateful enough for my banana.

 But when I gave a banana to this little one, the big one behind raced in and beat him up.
Naturally I gave the big mean monkey his own banana.

 But as soon as I walked by, he dropped the banana I gave him and came tugging on my trousers.

 Now there's a nice, polite monkey.

Time to Move

We have had our few days at the lower end of Ubud, now we're moving up past the monkey forest to the top end of Ubud for a few days. Moving on ...

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