Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Around the World: Ubud, Bali

January 26, 1992

Found a Lonely Planet guide to South East Asia.  The prices are out of whack, as it was published in 1985, but it's still useful for looking up sights to visit and explore.

Hoping for some relief from the heat, I went for a swim in the hotel pool.  It's a rare treat to find a pool that is refreshingly cool and this pool was not one of them, like trying to cool off in a hot bath.

There's a gecko just outside the window and Anna informs us that there is a big bug in the bathroom with her.  By the sound of the shoe smacking going on, it sounds like it's a good size, but apparently (and thankfully) kill-able.

Today, Tracey and I rented a taxi for half the day, which cost 300,000 Rupiah ($15).  I don't know if I'll get used to seeing all these zeros on the cost of things.  It's as close to being a millionaire as I'm ever going to get, and the illusion only costs about $50.

The Elephant Cave near Ubud

After a few stops at some markets in Ubud, the taxi brought us to visit the Hindu archaeological site of Goa Gajah and the Elephant Cave.  Anyone with clothing that does not cover their knees must rent a sarong for 5,000 Rupiah (25¢) to enter the temple grounds.  The carved entrance of a demonic mouth is meant to symbolize the entrance to the underworld.  Of particular interest are the number of Buddhist relics excavated from within the cave and its close proximity to a Buddhist temple.  It is believed the Elephant Cave was dug completely by the hands of Hindu priests, and although the exact age of the cave is unknown, the first mention of Goa Gajah and the Elephant Cave was in the Javanese poem, "Desawarnana" written in 1365.

Long-tailed macaques

Not far from the cave is the Monkey Forest, a sanctuary for over 300 long-tailed macaque monkeys.  This is not a zoo setting where there is some barrier to separate visitors from the wildlife.  When posted signs caution visitors not to feed the animals, it is wise to heed the advice.  Two guys in the small group just ahead of Tracey and I held out a banana to attract a monkey or two down from the trees for a photo opportunity.  The guys were quickly swarmed by a dozen or more macaques who not only took the banana, but both their ball caps, a pair of glasses and the camera they hoped to snap the photo with.  By far, it was the best example of stupidity I've ever had the pleasure to witness.

After a day of exploring, we came back to the hotel and went for a dip in the warm pool and a very delicious pasta dinner.  Settling in for the night with a little light reading about the unique and strange that is India.

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"Luck can often mean simply taking advantage of a situation at the right moment. It is possible to make your luck by being always prepared."
~- Michael Korda