Ubud Overload

Although we had left Sanur midday, we arrived at Bali Ubud Villa with wooden souvenirs in tow around 4:30 pm.  I was in love more or less instantly as we were greeted with fresh juice by a barefoot woman behind a teak desk.  Bali Ubud villas are situated just outside of Ubud and we were on the edge of a deep ravine amidst a jungle-like setting.  If you looked into the trees, you would often seen people going about their day along small footpaths and at night and mornings, we heard singing and chanting and brahmans ringing bells from nearby villages presumably celebrating the religious holidays occurring around the time of our visit.  It was magical.

It helped too that the villa we had booked was being renovated and we were upgraded free of charge to one of the premium villas.  The bed was so large that David and I joked around that we were in different time zones.

Although the villas aren’t in the center of Ubud, we had no problems going to explore the city life because a complimentary shuttle ran about 4 times a day and you could arrange for the hotel to pick you up for the same price a taxi would charge if their itinerary didn’t match yours.  We were also given business cards with a wee map printed on them and chose to negotiate our way back from Ubud giving this to taxi drivers.

Despite living within the bounds of the world’s largest metropolis, I found the small and walkable Ubud city center a bit overwhelming.  For one, I don’t live in a country where English is constantly being spoken all around me.  Seeing the alphabet and hearing my native language was stranger than I expected.  Seoul sidewalks are also very wide, so the narrow ones of Ubud and stream of people on them kept me on my toes. There are some street peddlers and many shops keep their doors wide open with wares being (politely) hawked….. in short, I had a case of sensory overload and was a little out of my element.

This I do not consider a bad thing, at all.   In fact, it’s why I don’t go for the kind of vacation where you laze about in a resort for a week.

The hotel uses Ubud Palace as their pick up and drop off point, which is very wise considering how hard it is to miss this:

The palace is very small as compared to the ones in Seoul and people were wandering in and out of its courtyard freely.  The yard was filled with stacks of wood, rolled up banners, and a very large papier-mache cow in preparation for a mid-August royal cremation ceremony.

funeral pyre, under construction

Let me be clear here–Bali is a part of Indonesia and therefore, under their law.  There are still 9 royal families, but these kings are, to my understanding, more a part of tradition than politics.  It was never entirely cleared up for us who exactly had died, but it was someone close to a king, though not in his nuclear family.

Another imposing structure of Ubud life (we had also seen these in Sanur) were these massive decorative poles outside of nearly every home and business.  They would be torn down soon as religious holidays came to a close but were handmade by families and mounted each year around the time of our late July visit.

Hinduism is everywhere in Bali.  It’s what makes the island so unique to not only predominantly Muslim Indonesia, but to world travelers as well.  All sidewalks were littered with offerings and many businesses had a small area for employee worship throughout the day.  It was just a part of life for the majority of the people around me and stones statues and jepun (frangpini) flowers tucked into every place imaginable served as more of a beautification to an already charming tropical place than forcing you to join in.

Though these photographs are an amalgamation of our two days in Ubud, for the sake of organization, I’ll need to stop my musings on the non-coastal capital city for now.  Next to follow will be our up close and personal adventures with monkeys and elephants, which were a very exciting fourth day of our vacation.

As a teaser, I’ll leave you with a photo of the wild monkeys you can see on a stroll down Ubud’s Monkey Forest Road.

Have you ever seen a wild monkey hanging out on the sidewalk? I have. It's nuts!

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