Pat, Chris and I travelled from Canggu to Ubud with an unofficial grab taxi so we got a great price. The drive was cool, passing volcanoes and rice fields we were excited to get to a new city. Ubud is in the center of Bali so there is no surrounding ocean. It is known for having a lot of yoga and being a hip area. There are many tourists within the region; mixed with the buzz and bustle of local people, it is a friendly and fun place to visit.
We stayed at a hostel named ‘In Da Lodge’ it is enormous, had a nice pool and many areas to hang out in. The people here were friendly. With no air conditioning in the room, the heat had me waking up in my own sweat. The hostel overcharged for services such as transportation and excursions so I would find what I was looking for from a local person on the street. Different examples of this were when I booked a ticket to Gili Trawangan for 220,000 IDR ($22 Canadian) and the hostel was charging 350,000 IDR ($35 Canadian), I hiked Mount Batur and paid 220,000 IDR ($22 Canadian) while the hostel was charging 300,000 IDR ($30 Canadian) for the exact same tour.
Cheap markets made for some great shopping. I picked up a handmade backpack for 50,000 IDR ($5 Canadian) to carry around daily items and a ukulele for 100,000 IDR (about $10 Canadian). With all the travelling I have done in the past I have almost mastered my bargaining skills. There is always a local price and a tourist price, the tourist price is usually at least double that of the local price.
We took off on motorbikes on a nice sunny day destined for the monkey forest. This is a real place, with hundreds of monkeys running around. They behaved in many different ways from being quite aggressive to friendly and playful. Local people were selling bananas to feed the monkeys which encouraged them to climb up your clothes and body to get to the food. Monkeys of all ages from babies to elderly were roaming around.
The monkeys characteristics are so similar to humans. As we were walking along the path one monkey had mounted onto another monkey and they were making monkey love. That was until another monkey jumped in and started smacking one in the face with his hands and then they all broke it off. It was a very organic experience.
A young Asian woman wanted a photo with a monkey, unsure as to why she chose the aggressive monkey showing his teeth and making growling noises she insisted Pat take some photos while she got close. It was not a great idea as she was invading the monkey’s personal space. He got very angry and simultaneously another monkey came charging from her other side. Pat with the camera taking photos for her, Chris and I standing there watched her get ravaged by the big monkey who had become territorial about the girl. He had his teeth gripped into her arm with the other monkey attacking her from the other side.
I really wanted to help but had no interest in having a monkey bite me. It took the locals a long five seconds before appearing with sticks to beat the monkeys off. The big monkey pierced her skin and I asked her about having the rabies vaccine. Her response was “ohh no no, worry I got the vaccine.” I tried to explain that she still needs follow up treatments.
[The rabies vaccine only increases the amount of time (and fewer treatments required) from bite to initial injection for treatment]. I don’t think she quite understood because a man working in the monkey forest took her to the medical station and put alcohol and a bandage on it. We saw her again afterwards and she said “no problem, it is all okay” she was all fixed up. Some of the monkeys loved to steal water bottles, food, glasses, whatever the little troublemakers could get their hands on.
We left the monkey forest with the intention of heading to the Tegenungan waterfall. As we got near our bikes a local man approached us and asked what we were up to. He offered to take us to a coffee plantation and then would show us to the waterfall. It couldn’t have worked out better we had a free tour of a coffee plantation and tried 12 different coffee and teas, some of which were delicious. I particularly liked the coconut coffee. There wasn’t a big pressure on us to make a purchase so we carried on. After showing us to the waterfall the local man carried on with his work. It was fun to take a dip in the water and cool off. There were other tourists diving and doing double flips off the waterfall but our local friend had said it was dangerous so we just swam in the water. It turned out to be a great day, fun to explore the city with motorbikes and drive through some back streets.
At night we went out to dinner and enjoyed some live music. The band could really jam, it was a ton of fun to hear some good tunes. The food was great as well.
On a few different nights we went out to a bar named CP Lounge, the live music was phenomenal. As usual we were tearing up the dance floor. I was playing some tambourine with the reggae band. At 1230 am the band had to stop playing and the party was moved to the air conditioned room with a DJ. The gang of us whom had gone out danced for a long while before calling it a night.
On another day in Ubud a group of us took a van taxi out to see some rice field terraces. It was a beautiful spot but after paying an initial entrance fee we were required to pay to get in again. After spending a while walking around it was getting dark so we decided to leave. At the exit was a agitated topless elderly woman who refused to open the gate for us until we again paid. They didn’t ask for much so it wasn’t a big financial deal as much of a general annoyance. The rice fields were definitely worth the visit.
Pat and I had decided to hike Mount Batur. I found a lady at a shop on the street corner who was offering a much better price than the hostel so a group of us signed up. Because it is a sunrise hike each person is required to show up at 0200 am for a two hour bus ride up the mountain. I figured I would get some sleep this night but one thing had lead to another and by 830 pm somehow Pat and I had been convinced to head to CP Lounge with a gang from the hostel. We stayed out until 0130 am and then headed back to the hostel and jumped in the pool. In Indonesia there is a powder with similarities to red bull but is 3-4 time more potent and contains 1000mg of taurine and other vitamins. It’s called Extra Joss, mostly referred to as Joss. Joss vodka shots, joss in the Bintang beer, it certainly works well as a stimulant. Though not legal in many other countries that I know of, it is readily available at most corner stores. After heading to the meeting point for Mt. Batur we loaded up a backpack with Joss and Bintang beer for the hike up the mountain. We hiked up with a pint in hand as many other people had struggled to make it up after a nights sleep.
We celebrated when we got to the top and watched the sunrise. No denying how stunning it truly was. Colours breaking through the sky penetrating the clouds. After a short period of time a foggy haze settled over everything so we started the trek down. I was helping others make the way down as the trail was slippery with a lot of loose gravel and dirt.
We reached a break point where there were tons of monkeys playing around. They were much more friendly than monkey forest so I got a banana and had four or five climbing on me at one time. We grabbed another Bintang on the way down to keep the party going. At this point we had a fully developed Bintang song that may someday become world famous. The other people struggling didn’t seem to enjoy it quite as much. It was about 1100 am when we arrived back to the hostel. The sun was shining and the pool was glowing so we decided may as well have a quick drink by the pool. Another Bintang lead to another and we had the pool party in full swing. Tossing the occasional Joss in our drinks likely helped make it through the long day but by time I went to bed that night Pat and I had been up for somewhere around 40 hours straight.
After a good full day of rest and recovery I needed to get back to the ocean. Ubud is a big tourist spot and the water is not easily accessible as it is in the middle of Bali. Pat came along with me and we separated from Chris for a few days because he wanted to stick around Ubud with a few people. We’re headed for Gili Trawangan, the party island of Indonesia with beautiful beaches and there is never a need to rush.