August 10, 2015 at 4:04pm
Back on the mainland we rented a scooter for the 3 final days of the trip. We loaded our now 4 backpacks on this thing and drove it 2 hours north to the town of Ubud. Ubud was like the Chiang Mai of Bali .. the place everyone talked about.. “You must go to Ubud !!” .. “Have you been to Ubud??” .. yeah yeah .. we went to Ubud. Ubud was jam packed .. traffic on the main road leading into town was like Seinfeld’s really bad traffic driving in reverse. Unreal ! But we had the scooter .. and just like Thailand, the scooter dominates the road .. the scooter doesn’t wait in traffic .. the scooter finds holes and squeezes into them to work it’s way through the stand still. Just awesome .. Sometimes I would find myself stopped between 2 cars and feel like I was doing something wrong .. other scooters whizzing past us .. So, we would join them .. you never need to stand still on the scooter unless it’s a major intersection with lights .. and even then, you should be at the front of the line waiting .. not behind any cars.
Ubud has been invaded by tourists .. real bad. Everywhere ! And all the shops and boutiques were geared towards tourism .. so much shopping. And here the “markets” were different.. normally, the Asian markets sell all sorts of cool stuff at reasonable prices .. and the vendors are cool and chill. In Ubud, the market was a high pressure zone … a spectacle for the “rich” foreigners to gaze upon. The foreigners in Ubud ( for the most part ) shopped at the posh boutiques and stores that littered this town .. and then they would take a stroll through the market to see how the peasants lived. The vendors at this market were broken .. sad and desperate .. confused .. they all seemed to be wondering why these rich foreigners were not buying their stuff. And they were begging you to buy something .. “please mister, make good luck for me .. buy from me .. me make good price .. bargain ok .. please buy from me”.. tugging at your arm .. jumping in front of you with items in their hands to show you. The shit part was that they would become hostile if you didn’t buy .. if you said “just looking”.. or “no thank you”.. It was pretty sad and inevitably those markets will soon disappear .. From what I read, Ubud had already closed 2 big markets and this one’s days are numbered as well. Sylvie and I were genuine shoppers at the market, but we don’t respond well to the high pressure .. We can’t save the market .. we can’t buy something from every stall .. we are always polite and we are sincerely shopping and looking for certain items to buy yes .. but what can you do when the stall doesn’t have it 🙁 And what do you say when someone is in your face with an oversized trinket you clearly have no room for in your backpack .. *sigh
Ubud has many theatrical performances to offer .. the Kecap dance being one of them. So we went to see this one hour show which featured some fire walking and Garuda, Vishnu’s mount. It was pretty cool – lots of costumes and makeup .. lots of dancing – and a chorus of about 40 men in underwear keeping a “check check check” rhythm going .. “checka checka checka”. There was a story behind the performance, but it escaped both Sylvie and I. And when the fire walking started, we had coals flying at us and cinders landing on our clothing .. What a show!
Ubud also had a monkey forest. This was my favorite part of Ubud. We got up early and entered the touristic forest when it opened.. this was great as we had the place to ourselves for about 2 hours. We played with bands of monkeys… so many monkeys !! We were in awe .. they were sneaky .. they tried to open your bag all the time. They would climb on you .. At one point, and I have it on video, I had 4 of them on me .. and 2 of them behind me on my backpack started a little fight over the zipper I guess .. they attacked each other briefly .. But the third one who was on my shoulder got excited by the commotion and decided to nip at my neck.. no big deal, I’ve been beaten my a few monkeys on this trip .. like a cat biting you, harmless .. a small pinch – But I still don’t want to be bitten, and once they start that crap, they keep biting .. So I reached up and grabbed his little body to remove him from me and he squealed “help!!”. Oh shit .. Suddenly, I had like 5 adults running at me !! Showing their teeth, squealing at me, waving their arms in the air .. I was under attack !! show no fear .. I stood up and showed them I would not be threatened and the ones that were on me, jumped off .. and the ones in front glaring and threatening me kept their distance. One lunged and attacked the Gopro Sylvie was holding .. 2 came up to climb and attack me by grabbing at my shorts .. I snapped my fingers and said in a deep voice, “ I am bigger than you !” and they backed off. It was hilarious .. 2 foreigners that were nearby were now very far away .. fearful .. 20 seconds later they were gone back out the way they came. That’s right, my monkey forest lol
Later on in our walk through the forest we encountered one of the rangers who was feeding them. He would hand us corn nibblets to feed the monkeys .. if you held the nibblets high up, they would jump on you to get at them.. been there done that without the nibblets .. but it was good to get some good photo ops for us. Monkey forest was awesome.
Afterwards, we drove the scooter north to Bedugul .. an area Lasse had suggested we visit. It’s a 2 hour ride uphill climbing yet another huge volcano.. and at the top, the road goes along it’s ridge and eventually you reach a beautiful scenic place overlooking 2 fresh water lakes. We snapped some pictures. It was very cold up here .. We were in shorts and everyone else was wearing sweaters and long pants .. lol .. crazy Canadians. It wasn’t that cold 😀
On the way to Bedugal, we found a freebie .. an unplanned surprise. Nestled into the hillside was a huge abandoned resort .. perhaps from the 60s or 70s .. no clue. There was a rope strung across the grand driveway entrance .. meaning no entry .. but that doesn’t mean much around here. We walked right up to this place and had the run of it. There was an outside grand staircase leading to the upper levels and it was completely overgrown.. years worth. It had multiple levels .. huge rooms with balconies … multiple terraces .. ballroom and party rooms .. kitchens and servants quarters .. It was awesome just roaming around this place imagining what it must have been like in it’s day .. We weren’t the only travelers who had spotted this place, other foreigners were doing the same thing.
After 2 nights of Ubud, we headed back south and decided to get a room in Jimbaran, right beside the airport at Denpasar. We walked to Kuta, the party zone and found ourselves a watering hole for our final night in Indonesia. There was a great band playing and we stayed and drank till they were done. The singer, Very, hung out with us between each set. He was very entertaining and full of energy. He looked 25 and he was actually 43 .. He explained to us his beliefs on food and how it keeps him ( anyone ) young and healthy. His beliefs were similar to my own, although he was much more adherent and strict about it. I’ll summarize: Milk bad .. only needed to feed babies. Red meat the worst .. difficult to digest and causes all sorts of problems.. chicken and fish not as bad but still should be limited.. Flour and all it’s products super bad .. difficult for the body to digest .. so pasta and pastries or anything made with flour, out completely. Rice .. bad .. starchy and again hard on the system. Too much sugar bad .. diabetes .. All pop and juices sold in stores .. complete crap and lead to diabetes because of high sugar and preservatives. He eats 90% fruits and vegetables. He speaks the truth .. but you gotta be strong to live that way .. he encourages us by saying that body only needs 3-7 days to adapt to a new diet … and if you can get through those first 7 days, you will be fine, forever. Again, I believe he’s right about that .. after 3 days of quitting smoking, it was a done deal .. and if it’s not that way for you, then you lack control of your mind.
Very was a very wise person but being back in Canada I have come to learn something about him and perhaps many who live in far away lands like Indonesia. I added him as a friend on Facebook because of his energy and his musical talent. Since being back home, I have seen many of his posts on Facebook .. all sorts of dietary articles and the sort. However, after the attacks in Paris, I noticed a sharp change in his posts. Understandably, his posts became very defensive .. seeing as many ignorant people around the world starting blaming Islam for terrorism. I take it all with a grain of salt.. being from the west and understanding that the U.S. puts it’s nose where it doesn’t belong.. all the time… it’s latest huge mistake was taking out Saddam Hussein .. destabilizing Iraq and the surrounding area… which has ultimately led us to where we are now .. IS causing major havoc.
One of Very’s posts really took me off guard .. this one showed me the light .. a huge understanding. He posted a photoshop picture of Angelina Jolie with a quote saying something like “Death to Israel, the real terrorists .. the world much unite to destroy them”. Despite my political beliefs or my disapproval with Israel’s actions against Palestinians, I still understand that this photoshop quote of Angelina Jolie is completely false. Anyone from the west immediately understands this point. Why ? Because we live close to her career .. we see her every move on television .. we know that she would never openly slander a country like Israel because it would probably cost her her career. This is a no brainer for Westerners.
So I decided to help out my Indonesian friend Very, and write him a quick note to explain that the photoshop picture was false. He would have nothing of it .. he didn’t believe me for a second and was very upset with me for having even mentioned it. I realised just how misinformed the poor guy was and wondered how many more from far away lands believe what they see and read so easily .. so willingly .. I mean, we all see what we want to .. but in this case, it’s outright wrong and dangerous. Just to say how “fortunate?” we are to have this common and basic understanding of the internet .. of Facebook .. of our “stars” .. Poor Very.. but it explains much doesn’t it. Give this story some thought.
40 hours of travel back to Canada .. an amazing trip. Indonesia and Vietnam were excellent. Again, we come back to Canada, changed people.. new perspectives, new attitudes .. We learn so much from the Asians .. There are so many things I believe they do better than us .. I think this because they all seem so much happier than us .. less obsessed with materials and things .. more focused on family, people and nature. I think of back home and how much of a rat race we are in .. working jobs, paying debt .. rinse and repeat .. a grind. In Asia, of course that exists .. but that is because the elite are working to compete with the west.. losing themselves slowly I suppose .. Personal space etiquette and finer details of building practices aside, they are kicking butt.. it’s just a matter of time before they take over this planet.
This ends my travel blog for this 2015 trip. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for any new writing. Next summer, we will be traveling for a year and I will certainly be writing about it.
Once again, here is our video of the trip.