After entirely too much surfing in Kuta, I took a break to Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali. Whereas Kuta is filled to the brim with surfers and drunk Australians, this city is a more laid-back destination, with lots of European tourists.
As a result of Eat, Pray, Love book and movie (where the heroine comes to Ubud to practice Yoga and find love), this city is also filled with 30-some women fleeing from a midlife crisis and trying to find meaning in their life. I had the pleasure of chatting with one Californian gal who boasted of practicing Yoga with the very same Yoga instructor mentioned in the book, and I got the impression she had a really bad case of midlife crisis. I wonder though, was my own trip also inspired by a midlife crisis of sorts?
It’s monkeys in a forest, surprise! What’s special about Monkey Forest in Ubud is that the monkeys are completely fearless. They’ll sit there right in the middle of road, doing their business as you walk around taking pictures. Some of the more adventurous ones will even use you as a tree:
Ubud is famous for its cultural dances, which are fairly cheap ($8 for an hour performance) but also fairly repetitive. I found that Indonesian dance is characterized by swinging the head back and forth, hand movements, and intricate costumes.
During my time in Ubud, I had the pleasure of watching several Balinese Hindu ceremonies, and and found them to be fascinating. In Balinese culture, in order to watch or take part in any ceremonies or visit any of the temples, you need to be properly dressed – in a sarong in sash, for both sexes. So yes, I got myself a sarong. I must say, I look dashing / very manly wearing a skirt:
It’s odd, walking around the market – if you’re not wearing a sarong, you get innundated with offers of “sarong?”. If you’re already wearing a sarong, you instead get offers of “another sarong?”
What really impressed me was that these ceremonies and dances weren’t meant for tourist eyes – we were welcome to observe if properly attired, but for the most part it was something that locals did for themselves.
Something else I found fascinating is that in Balinese culture, there is a teeth filing ceremony – much like how in the West, people get braces to align their teeth, in Bali they get the tops of their teeth filed so that the tops of teeth are smooth and aligned.
While staying in this city, I hired a car and driver, and started traveling around Bali!