3 Nights In Ubud - Part 2
18 May 2010 | Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
With the exercise part of this trip out of the way it was time to indulge in some good old fashioned pampering. We had all arranged the night before to have massages, body scrubs and facials so off the 6 of us trotted to Verona Spa. Each couple was led into a room complete with bath and shower which looked out over a rice paddy. After handing us a pair of ridiculous disposable undies each the staff retreated to let us get changed. The massage was just what we needed and I could feel myself starting to drift into semi sleep as the setting, massage and traditional music lulled me into a state of relaxation. All too soon that part was over and the shock of the rough body scrub being applied brought me sharply into reality. When they had finished applying the mud-like substance we were wrapped in sarongs and left alone. Jay and I had chosen a spice body scrub and it wasn't long before the spices started to heat up our skin, a sensation that I enjoyed, Jay not so much! A head appeared through a crack in the door and told us we could shower now before disappearing back around the door. Jay and I had been to Verona Spa before and last time as we had been showering an old man had appeared outside the window working the rice paddy as we stood naked beneath the shower. This time we had no voyeurs though and the sensation of the cold water on our skin was welcome after the heat of the scrub. This part of our treatment over we were moved to another room for our facial which I thoroughly enjoyed but after discussion with the girls I found they were less than impressed with it.
We wandered down Monkey Forest Road doing a spot of window shopping until we reached one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ubud, the Sacred Monkey Forest. The forest is alive with hundreds of long tailed macaques and they are not shy with visitors, jumping on people backs as they walk by and climbing up peoples legs if you happen to stand still for too long. This virtually ensured that there was no possible way we were going to get Mel to go anywhere near the monkey forest, sacred or not!! We left her in the relative safety of a shopfront and entered the forest, we declined to buy a bunch of bananas that would ensure the monkeys attention was on us and watched as one silly European woman had her bunch snatched right out of her hands, she chased the monkey to get them back while her tour guide implored her in horror to let the bananas go. Many people entering the monkey forest are under the misconception that as the monkeys seem so tame and unafraid of us that it is safe to be around them. Well, it's not, Jay learnt that the hard way years ago when we were here and he handed me the camera to get some shots of him with the monkeys. He got down on the ground and rolled around with them, this was something that they were not very happy about and I can't imagine why he was surprised when they jumped on his back and bit him, breaking the skin!! But as we walked through the monkey forest this time Jay was up to his old tricks, getting too close to them, imitating them (not that that was too much of a stretch!) and eventually being chased away by an angry male who had had enough of this big white monkey. We were all fascinated though by the baby monkeys everywhere, it must have been breeding season as every female seemed to have a tiny baby with them, they were as wrinkled as a newborn and were unsteady on their feet. They too were very curious and would come right up to us before a protective mother grabbed them by the tail and dragged them back to safety.
The next morning, our final morning in Ubud we arose early for a walk along Campuan Ridge taking our cameras with us to take advantage of the early morning light. Campuan means 'where two rivers meet', the two rivers being Sungai Wos and Sungai Agung. It was a gorgeous time to be out and about, it was cooler and there was a freshness to the air, everything was still and the early morning sun cast a magical light over everything. We were dropped off by our driver at the beginning of the walk near the entrance to a resort, walking down some stone steps we crossed a concrete bridge where the sound of the water below us filled the air. We walked past Labuh Temple which is over 1,000 years old and headed North on a paved path along the ridge through waist high grass known as Alang-Alang, this is the grass used for traditional thatched roofs. The breathtaking beauty of the scenery surrounding us kept us quiet and the only sound to be heard was clicking of our cameras as we attempted to capture the moment. Hordes of dragonflies darted this way and that across the path and though I could have found myself a spot and sat there for hours just taking it all in, we still had a bit of a hike in front of us. Unfortunately, although there is still a huge expanse of space there at the moment, evidence of the developers can be seen and a string of upmarket resorts and villa's are popping up boasting views of the ridge. How long before this too is gone? The grassy fields of the Campuan Ridge eventually led us to a small village called Bangkiang Sidem, as with most of Ubud the art community is often divided into villages that are famous for a particular item, in this village we found it was wooden painted eggs. Walking through the rice paddy's we found a small shack where a small Balinese man sat cross legged, a traditional 'kamben' on his lower half and a t-shirt and cap on his upper half, a fusion of traditional and modern. He held a wooden egg in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. His shack was filled with not only these eggs but scores of paintings, most depicting Hindu Gods. There was not a huge tourist trade out here and his shack was set up on the side of the road in the hope that the odd tourist undertaking the Campuan Ridge walk would wander past and spare a few dollars for his artwork. He was happy to chat with us and explain his work, which was amazing. He made a meagre living by selling his wares to the touristy souvenir shops in central Ubud, they paid him next to nothing and then charged the tourists exorbitant prices. We made his day by purchasing several of his eggs and some artwork, the smile on his face made our day.
We continued on through the rice paddy's as the villages began to wake up, the noises of animals filled the air, the cows with their long beautiful eyelashes, ducks running through the fields and chickens pecking around the roadsides. The paddy's all too soon gave way to tarred roads and eventually we found our way to the outskirts of central Ubud where the women wandered around in their traditional dress to make their morning offerings, the smell of incense filled the air and everyone greeted us happily, content to pose for photos. Jason saved me from a couple of nasty dogs that came snapping at our heels by smacking them with his camera bag while my husband walked ahead oblivious to the danger I'd been in! I have a fear of Bali dogs, rabies has been a problem in Bali in the past and I could not see the red ribbon on this dog that indicates they have been immunised against rabies! The walk was a feast for the eyes and all the senses and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Ubud.