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Ubud Monkey Forest

Ubud Monkey ForestTanah Temple
for a wedding present, and to give us an escape from family, my uncle danny bought us a trip to bali. bali is a tiny island with tons to explore. we only had 4 days so it was a pretty quick trip. we hopped on air asia from the k.l.  airport, the great thing about southeast asia is once you’re there it’s cheap to hop around. the bali airport is quite large considering, but visa lines are long and no escaping…unless you want slip an officer a $100 bill and he’ll show you to a(nother) shorter line. my cousin vacations there quite a bit and has a driver he always meets up with so we opted for that option, especially with the crazy traffic patterns (or lack there of) and the short amount of time–we wanted to see as much as we could! even on our meager budget at $20 a day we thought he was a steal. he knew all the shortcuts, the touristy traps to skip and ones worth the trip, the hidden waterfalls and temples to check out, best food, local artisans who wouldn’t rip you off, and we basically had a personal tour guide with us all along the way. he had grown up in bali, was hindu, and was more than willing to answer any questions we conjured up.
my uncle covered our accommodations at probably the nicest place either of us will ever stay. the “w” in seminyak. when you arrive in seminyak you pull off the main road leaving behind the horns, bumper to bumper cars, and gobs of tourists; and start down a private cobble stoned driveway enclosed by a green vine tunnel. suddenly the tunnel opens to a green forest dotted with villas and the main retreat. getting out of the car you’re so mesmerized by the surrounding greenery and peacefulness you’ve entered you don’t notice your bags being whisked away, a mango nectar drink has been placed in your hand, you’re greeted by a friendly hostess and being escorted to your room. at some point we started taking in that we were surrounded by ex-rugby players and their model wives. everyone is well above the 5’11 height and there’s a vodka photo shoot taking place at the bar. no one seemed to notice that we didn’t fit in with our backpacking attire–probably because of the height difference. i’m pretty sure if we weren’t so curious to explore the island we would have happily never left the w for all four days. there was a private beach, people would come by and set drinks by your lounge chair, give you a shoulder rub, and i haven’t even described our shower which was the size of a large room with water streams coming at you from all directions!
alas, we bucked up and left our sanctuary to explore the authentic culture of the island. we visited rice patties, hiked to secluded water falls, left behind the throngs of people to the countryside, visited the sacred sanctuaries and temples of the locals, saw the workings of every type of artisan from wooden masks, to tapestries, to metal. swam in crystal clear waters, had tea in the countryside, lunch by a rice patty, saw men carrying loads at least 4 times their size balanced with a forehead strap, visited a temple on accessible during low tide, and even explored a monkey forest. in the 4, really 3 days (let’s be honest we did take a day to enjoy the “w”) we had, we only touched a portion of the island. but it served its purpose and we headed back to family sunburned and relaxed.

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