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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 21

    Monday, September 14, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    A damsel in distress? Or is she just happy to see me? Holy Monkey Forest in Bukit Sari Sangeh, Bali, Indonesia.
    A damsel in distress? Or is she just happy to see me? Holy Monkey Forest in Bukit Sari Sangeh, Bali, Indonesia.

    The entry gate to the Holy Monkey Forest in Bukit Sari Sangeh, Bali, Indonesia.
    The entry gate to the Holy Monkey Forest in Bukit Sari Sangeh, Bali, Indonesia.

    I woke up super early at 7:30 am to check the sky–which was clear and blue, sporting a shining sun–so I could book a spot on the Bedugul / Sunset Tour for the same day. That way, I didn’t have to worry it might be a rainy day if I booked the day before. At 10:00 am, the driver showed up and stuffed me into a tiny shuttle van with five other people. Plus, we had one more to pick up over on Jalan Hanoman! The whole crew–three guys and three girls in their 20s or 30s–hailed from Europe, as usual. I do believe the entire population of Europe pretty much visits Bali at all times.

    A quarterpipe tree at the Holy Monkey Forest in Bukit Sari Sangeh, Bali, Indonesia.
    A quarterpipe tree at the Holy Monkey Forest in Bukit Sari Sangeh, Bali, Indonesia.

    The front gate to Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.
    The front gate to Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.

    Our first stop was the Holy Monkey Forest in Sangeh, where we admired some seriously beautiful temple grounds populated by little monkeys, which were hilariously animated as they frolicked about the stone walls and jumped into a small pool. I even saw one tiny monkey dive off of a 15 foot tall tower into less than one foot of water! And several of them climbed all over anyone who sat down. Even though I remained standing and kept my distance, one of them still managed to sneak up behind me, jump up onto my back and climb onto my shoulders. I just did what you should do: I stayed calm and waited for it to jump off. I asked a guy who worked there if the monkeys ever bite anyone. He said no, but I didn’t believe him, because I know for a fact that the monkeys in Ubud occasionally bite people. Why would it be any different here?

    A collection of multi-tiered merus at Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.
    A collection of multi-tiered merus at Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.

    The beautiful gardens at Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.
    The beautiful gardens at Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.

    Next, I followed a walkway through a jungle, where I spotted a huge quarterpipe tree blocking the path. Too bad those monkeys don’t ride skateboards, because if they did, they would shred the sap out of that tree! On the way back out, I got forced into one of those long, snaking pathways through dozens of souvenir stalls. I felt kind of bad for the people who have to sit there all day, beckoning foreigners to buy something. From what I ever see, 99% of tourists just stream right past without purchasing a thing, and I’ve heard from the vendors themselves that sometimes days go by without them making a sale.

    A large, covered pavilion at Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.
    A large, covered pavilion at Pura Taman Ayun near Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia.

    Our second stop was at a stately temple built in 1634 called Pura Taman Ayun, which literally means beautiful garden. Surrounded by a wall and a moat, and set amid attractively sculpted gardens, the temple complex boasted several merus with five, seven, nine and eleven tiers, as well as a phalanx of cicadas that emitted a shrill whine that somehow sounded electronic. Our third stop was at a little coffee plantation, where we walked through a small forest with trees growing papaya, cacao (which is used to make chocolate), and, of course, coffee beans.

    A woman processes coffee beans in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.
    A woman processes coffee beans in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.

    We saw a lady processing coffee into powder from beans, followed by a tasting table, where everyone sat down and sampled some coffee and tea from tiny cups. If anyone wanted more, it was a whopping 50,000 rupiah for a larger cup. Likewise, at several hundred thousand rupiah a pop, packets of coffee inside the shop were also expensive. I spotted a small box of chocolate I wanted, but the steep price of 100,000 rupiah was a no-go for me. Our fourth stop of the day was at one of those rip-off tourist trap restaurants that served crummy buffet food at inflated prices. I refused to pay 100,000 rupiah, and just shot a couple of photos of some distant rice terraces and sat relaxing and typing the first part of today’s journal entry instead.

    An explosion of sticks in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.
    An explosion of sticks in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.

    When the driver came to get us 35 minutes later, he said our next stop was at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. “What about Jatiluwih?” I asked him. I was referring to the famous picturesque rice terraces that have been depicted on postcards of Bali since forever. He said we had just been to Jatiluwih. I asked him why we didn’t get to walk through the rice terraces and take photos, and he said it’s better to do that in the morning. Well, that was misleading! The main reason I booked this tour was to walk through the rice terraces at Jatiluwih. Oh, well! You can’t always get what you want. I guess I’ll have to hire a motorcycle driver to take me up there someday so I can traipse through the rice terraces to my heart’s content.

    The crew samples coffee in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.
    The crew samples coffee in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.

    As soon as we arrived at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, I went to look for a place to eat. I didn’t feel too good about the tiny warungs across the street, so I settled on one just outside the temple’s front gate womaned by a really nice lady who served me a piping hot bowl of soup with eggs, noodles and rice for only 10,000 rupiah. I also bought two small, blank bags of handmade chips for the same amount. By the time I finished chomping on those, there was only five minutes left before we had to leave. Of course, we only got 30 minutes at this stop and 45 at all of the others! So, I only got to shoot a couple of photos of the temple from outside the front wall. The place was packed with a ton of people–both foreign tourists and Balinese–anyway. At least I got to go inside during my first visit to Bali back in 2010. The only bummer was it was overcast then, but today was beautiful and sunny. Crap! Maybe I’ll have to take this tour again someday and bring my own food to avoid all of the hassles and misunderstandings.

    A Barong in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.
    A Barong in Perean, Bali, Indonesia.

    The rice terraces in Jatiluwih, Bali, Indonesia.
    The rice terraces in Jatiluwih, Bali, Indonesia.

    Following a 90-minute ride down the slopes of the mountains, we pulled into the parking lot of Pura Tanah Lot, one of Bali’s holiest Hindu temples, which is situated on a tiny islet right on the beach. After passing through the usual maze of souvenir stalls, we proceeded on down to a small shrine called Pura Batu Bolong on a cliff just north of the main temple. From this vantage point, there was a good overview of the astonishing amount of foreigners swarming all over the rocky beach around Purah Tanah Lot. So many photos were being clicked, I’m surprised the all of the world’s server farms were not crushed under the weight. I counted at least two couples flitting about in wedding attire. Too bad I failed to get a snap of them.

    Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bedugul, Bali, Indonesia.
    Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bedugul, Bali, Indonesia.

    Pura Batu Bolong in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Pura Batu Bolong in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.

    In a rocky cliff under the main temple, a couple of Balinese priests were doling out holy water and smearing third eyes onto the foreheads of anyone who threw some rupiahs into the donation bowl. I wanted to participate, but the sun was getting low, so I headed up onto the main cliff that overlooks Pura Tanah Lot to see if I could get a good angle to shoot my sunset photos. Unfortunately, the whole top of the cliff was taken up by the chairs and tables of various warungs. Luckily, one of them was occupied by a newlywed couple from Portugal who were in the same shuttle van as me, and they invited me to sit with them.

    Pura Tanah Lot in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Pura Tanah Lot in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Pura Tanah Lot in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Pura Tanah Lot in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.

    So, as the sun sank lower toward the horizon, we chatted away about their honeymoon in Bali. I recall one specific moment right then when I took a breath and I could feel that I was coming down with something. Near sunset, I stood up with all of the other standers and clicked off shot after shot, hoping I’d capture at least one that was decent. With the sun gone from view, we did the 10-minute shlep back to the van, followed by an hour-long ride back to Ubud, where we all got jettisoned in front of Ubud Palace. After dinner at Arimas Warung, I felt exhausted from that long, 10-hour day, so I hit the hay early.

    Pura Tanah Lot in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.
    Pura Tanah Lot in Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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