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Saturday 18 May 2013
Ubud, Indonesia

Sacred monkey kleptomania

After breakfast, we packed up and gave our bags to the porters to load up the van.  The rest of the group had disappeared somewhere, then one of the porters asked us if we wanted to see a cock fight.  We followed reluctantly, but I wondered if I had misheard him, or misunderstood what it was.  Unfortunately we hadn't. We were led around the back of the hotel to a small clearing marked with white lines, where a gang of men were attaching knives to the feet of a pair of cockerels while about 20 people stood watching.  We saw a few others from our group there, but as soon as we realised what was going on we turned around and walked away.  We found a few others in reception, who had been equally as disturbed as we were.  Sukio arrived shortly afterwards and explained cock fighting was not illegal in Bali, but it is elsewhere in Indonesia.  He doesn't like it either and Intrepid does not support it, so he would never take a group to see a cock fight deliberately, but if people want to go and watch, he can't really stop them.

We had a 90 minute minibus ride to Ubud and arrived in a beautiful hotel called Artini 2.  The entrance from the road was just a small doorway with statues and carvings, but the path lead around the back to a beautiful swimming pool and a number of villas and balconies overlooking well maintained gardens and pathways.  In the Balinese style, there were many sculptures of animals with some quite comical expressions (and a couple of quite rude ones too!)  Ailsa and I had a very big room with solid bamboo furniture, woven bamboo walls and a big balcony overlooking the pool area.  It didn't take long before we were in the pool and cooling off from the heat of the day.  Having a swim everyday is something that I can get used to quite happily!  Jim jumped in to join us and then jumped out again just as quickly.  We didn't realised why until we turned around to see him quietly spreading the contents of his wallet out on one of the sunloungers.  He'd forgotten to take his wallet out of his pocket before getting in the water! Oops.

When we regrouped at lunchtime, Sukio led us across town to try an Ubud speciality: Roast Suckling Pig.  We sat cross-legged around a low table and ordered the special - pork slices, crackling, spicy meat patty, sausage, steamed rice and mixed vegetable. Absolutely delicious!  We spent the rst of the day meandering through Ubud, looking in the shops and markets for souvenirs.  Sukio helped me get an Indonesian SIM card (SIM no 4 of my trip) for the rest of my stay.  

Jim, Ailsa and I bought some lovely handmade books from a lady near the hotel, before walking down to the Sacred Monkey Forest.  As we approached the forest entrance, we removed sunglasses from our heads, tucked cameras back in our bags and hid anything the monkeys could steal.  Jim had just tucked his wallet and sunglasses into the bag with his new books and was in the process of tying a knot in the carrier bag, when a large grey maccaque monkey hurtled across the path, stole the bag and leapt up above our heads onto a statue.  He proceeded to tear through the bag and pull out the contents.  He ripped into the books with his teeth and started eating the dried leaves that made up the covers.  A nearby Frenchman climbed up the statue to try and help us, but the monkey dashed off up a very tall tree with the books and Jim's sunglasses, leaving the rest behind.  This was followed shortly by a cascade of pages as the monkey scattered the remains of the book from above us.  At least we got the wallet back, but he didn't drop the sunglasses.

Once we made it through the gauntlet of the entranceway and the banana stand, complete with a gang of aggressive monkeys meanacing the unsuspecting purchasers of the aforementioned bananas, we were able to relax and admire the cuter baby monkeys scampering around happily.  In the middle of the forest, there was a path leading down to a river dell and a temple around one of the biggest banyan trees I have ever seen.  This was surrounded by animal statues, some rather graphic in cheeky Balinese style...

We had a last group dinner together and said our thank yous to Sukio for such a great trip.  There was a musician in the corner of the bar singing recognisable songs.  When we started singing along with 'American Pie' he realised he had a captive market and got us singing along with everything.  By the time we left we were in great spirits and Jim and Klaas had impressed us with their dancing skills.  We moved on to a great reggae bar for more dancing.  I have had such fun travelling with this lovely group of people through such a beautiful country.





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