Not everyone will resonate with our monkey coverage. To some, it’s like Ben’s attitude vis a vis baseball… shrug, yup, monkeys. But to us, monkeys are not just a side attraction. They are a core value proposition for this Southeast Asian city.
The Sacred Monkey Forest includes three important Hindu temples, dating from the year 1350, and both the forest and the temples are important components in the spiritual and economic life in the local community. Monkeys and the mythology around them are also recurring themes in the Balinese art tradition.
The population of Macaques live in a somewhat enclosed forest where their diet is supplemented by daily feeding times from the staff.
The monkey sanctuary is also a place for research and conservation programs.
The macaque population is fairly stable, at around 700. There are currently about 50 babies (younger than 4 months) ~ these are the guys sporting the super cool “haircuts”.
It is interesting to talk with foreigners about their experience ~ some are “freaked out” about the monkeys, fearing a bite ~ monkeys do bite tourists daily, (not surprisingly, given the taunting and inappropriateness of some tourists toward the forest’s inhabitants). Our take ~ if we are gentle and respectful of them and their territory, they will return the courtesy and there is nothing to fret about.
Lest we paint an idealized and idyllic picture of Ubud, we also need to address some of the less attractive features of living here.
if one spends a dominant amount of time within the pocket of the center of this vibrant town, one experiences an Ubud that is characterized by way too many tourists and a lot of traffic. Way more than just two years ago! (More traffic, more construction, way more Chinese visitors than before… ) It is a little overwhelming to be in one of those congested streets in the afternoon, and easily leads to thoughts such as “What has happened to Ubud?”. Growth is inescapable, and the solution is to find the pockets of serenity and calm that endure.
Our answer to the congestion problem is to hop on our rented scooter and go in the surrounding countryside, and to base ourselves in Nyuh Kunning, technically just outside of Ubud, which means our short cut into Ubud takes us on the periphery path of the Sacred Monkey Forest. So every day, on our way to Yoga, we say hello to our monkey friends.
A small sign in the middle of a rice field we pass while exploring on our motorbike says: “river this way” with a hand painted arrow to the left. After climbing down a steep and rocky cliff side, we are rewarded with a swim in cool fresh mountain river water.
Our second accommodation is a home stay with a local family who like many here, live in a family compound which houses extended family in individual small cottages, has its own temple and sometimes as in this case, rents out a few extra rooms.