We made it to Indonesia from Austria via a long day(days?) flying with some changes in Bangkok and Kula Limpur. We made a quick stop in the coastal tourist town of Kuta and then headed inland to Ubud. Ubud is more of a cultural center than a beach town, so we have been to the monkey temple, watched a traditional Balinese dance, visited a lakeside temple, been massaged and rafted a river through the countryside. The scenery here is really amazing.
We stayed for two nights in the coastal town of Kuta after our flight, since it is so close to the airport in Bali. However, it is high tourist season and the town was flooded with Australians and all other types of hedonistic beach goers. The small streets of Kuta where crammed with people, and motor scooters often used the 2-foot wide “sidewalks” to get around the vehicle congestion in the small roads. Kuta was packed, and we ended up staying a few blocks from the memorial for the 2002 Bali bombings. Since Bali is a Hindu island in the mostly Muslim archipelago of Indonesia, the bombers chose to attack the popular tourist nightclubs of Kuta, which killed many foreign tourists. However, the clubs are back and the hedonistic tourists are lining up for ‘happy hours’ once again. As Kuta was too crowded to really enjoy, we bought some cheap tropical clothing and then headed inland to get away from Kuta for the (hopefully) more manageable the town of Ubud.
Ubud is not lacking in tourists right now (July), but at least it is easier to walk on the streets. On our way to Ubdu, we met an English couple, whom we joined for a walk through the countryside and compared notes on traveling in the rest of Southeast Asia. The monkey temple was amusing, and the little creatures are used to tourists feeding them bananas and they are fairly aggressive at getting the bananas. They aren’t very appreciative and tend to prefer the whole bundle instead of just one. Instead of buying our own bundle, it was more amusing to watch other tourists be assaulted for their bananas and the squabbles that broke out amongst the monkeys. We did see one monkey away from the feeding frenzy who was more laid back and wasn’t so greedy for bananas (although he did paw through Aleax’s purse in search of treats).
We treated ourselves to some long massages and Balinese skin treatments to help our tired bodies to recover from all the walking we have done over the past few months of our trip. We relaxed in the tropical settings and enjoyed some great food. One night we went to see a traditional Balinese dance and gamelon (an orchestra of flutes, gongs and drums).
We took a day trip to Bedugul, a village in the mountains with a scenic water temple (Pura Ulun) on Lake Bratan. Our driver also stopped at a field with coffee and cocoa growing, so we were able to see how the red coffee berries look on the trees and the cocoa pods grow on the trees which are then split open to get the cocoa beans out to use for chocolate.
On another day, we did some rafting with awesome views of waterfalls, steep fern covered canyon walls and lush tropical forests and rice fields. The scenery was great and the water was nice and cool. We have seen many tropical animals, in addition to the monkeys. There are many geckos, frogs and bats. On the way to Lake Bratan, someone had these huge fruit bats (with bodies bigger than a cat or small dog) for tourists to take photos of.
***click to enlarge***