(see on map) - trin: I just want to start this entry by saying I have wanted to visit Bali for more than half my life and was a little afraid that it might not live up to the expectations established in my childhood mind. While it was different in someways, it really is a special place and the Balinese people are probably some of the nicest we've encountered.
On Bali, our friends Shaun and Angela joined us which was great. Hanging out with our friends is one of the things we miss the most.
We arrived late. So, we spent the night in nearby Legian. The following day we went to the beach and walked around the town for a bit before heading to our ultimate destination, Ubud. We stayed at family run hotel called Ketut's Place. Anyone who has read Eat, Pray, Love will know that Ketut is the fourth child in his family. Regardless of sex, all children in Bali are named according to their birth order: Wayan (first), Made(second), Nyoman (third) and Ketut (fourth).
Like most places in Ubud, the grounds at the hotel were ornate and immaculately maintained.
Twice a week Ketut's wife prepares a sample buffet of Balinese food. We were lucky and arrived on one of those nights. Here we are visiting with other travelers over dinner.
There are many, many ceremonies in the Balinese culture. One of which is the beautiful offerings left around entrances several times a day.
Another ceremony that all of the people in Ubud were proud to tell us about was the upcoming cremation ceremony. I am not going to try to explain the procedure or significance of the ceremony because I haven't actually seen one and I am afraid, I wouldn't do it justice. (youtube video example)
The entire village was busy preparing for a king and one of his relatives cremation. On the same day, villagers who had died in recent years would be exhumed and cremated as well. Families often need to save up for years to cover the cost of the ceremony.
The frame and head of a villager's cremation bull.
The king's cremation bull. The village was planning to take down all of the power lines so this massive bull could be carried in a procession through the streets of Ubud. Not only is it enormous, it is also very detailed. There were paper mache veins on his hind legs.
The ceremony is truly a group effort. Each day villagers would spend several hours working on the preparations.
After checking out the bulls we headed into the rice paddies. It was a beautiful walk and we were greeted by locals along the way. They would always ask, "where are you going? where are you staying?" Just like in Eat, Pray, Love.
After our walk we ate at the Lotus Cafe which sits along side a water temple.
The following day we went rafting through a lush river valley with rice terraces and waterfalls. The rapids were small compared to California but it was still scary as our guide took us down the river backwards most of the time. Plus, there were several low foot bridges and we had to lay down in order to pass underneath.
Everyone in Bali rides motor scooters. It is common to see a whole family on one scooter.
We saw two Balinese dance performances; Legong (youtube video example) and Kecak (youtube video example). We all prefered Kecak. The music is created by men chanting Kecak at different tempos. It sounds awesome.
The main road in Ubud is called Monkey Forest Road and at the end of it is of course a monkey forest.
The monkeys are accustom to people. This one is just checking Shaun out. Later on, one tried to jump on his back.
Most of the monkeys are born in May and June. So, we got to see lots of little baby monkeys. Some still had their umbilical cords while the older ones were already playing/swimming in the pond.
One of my favorite pictures. I call him little Buddha monkey.
Anyone who watches the Anthony Bourdain Show may recognise this place. They only serve one thing, roasted pig with rice. When the pig is gone for the day they close. So, they are only open for lunch.
There were mixed reviews from our group but I really liked it. I even ate all of my pork rind. It is was nothing like those pork rinds in the bag at home. Yuck.
We ended our time in Ubud with a shopping/pub crawl. There isn't much night life but we managed to find a place that served champagne and toasted our travels together.