Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bali Day 4: Tour around Ubud area


 Batik of all colors sizes and purposes.
 Cement statues
 Silver works


We hired a driver to take us around today, a nice way to tour.  He took us to a Balinese Barong and Rangda dance performance first, then through the villages towards the live volcano at Danau Batur. Each village is known for its artisan specialty; wood carvings, silver, gold, stone carvings, egg painting and on and on.  If we showed interest, the driver stopped at a certain shop that he assured us was less expensive and off the beaten path.  After we noticed a lot of Westerners at these tucked away shops, we began to figure he was at least helping his buddies out by bringing in the tourists.  That said, we certainly didn't feel captive to his itinerary (we've heard of the shams where the driver takes you to places he is commissioned to take you regardless of where you want to go).  At each stop in a village we made, the shopkeeper always started with a demonstration of how their particular art was handmade, then led you into their shop.  The shopkeepers were actually less aggressive than we experienced in other spots. 

Shelley: My best shot at the volcano because that cloud covered it a few minutes later.  Lunch buffet style occurred next.

Up at the volcano at Danau Batur, we stopped for lunch at a large restaurant full of tourists – this must be the designated place for drivers to take their fares.  Walking across the street to the restaurant required walking a gauntlet of peddlers literally sticking trinkets in you face shouting prices – and putting them in the kids' hands telling them to get money from mom and dad; JP accepted it all with glee.  The scene was like a high profile politician leaving a scandalous hearing.  Reporters mobbing him, sticking recorders in his face. His only defense is to keep his head down, make no eye contact and walk forward. 

Paparazzi following me--yikes!  We could hear them say "Americanos" then watch out!  Thankfully our driver would push us into the car an take off!  

At the Gunung Batur's crater rim, you can see black lava ripple down the sides of Gunung Batur, or so we read in the travel guide we bought to plan our trip.  Unfortunately, the fog covered any view we could have savored.  However, the scenery on the drive up to the Danau Batur Lake made the trip worthwhile.

From the volcano, we headed back towards Ubud to the Monkey Forest, stopping along the way to lake a look at the rice terraces.  The kids got to see the rice fields up close and we got a chance to take some great pictures. Some field workers happily posed for pictures...then followed to collect payment.  Apparently, this was not their first modeling gig.

We also made a stop at Pura Tirtha Empul, a temple and holy spring site.  In order to walk through the temple area, we all had to wear wrap a rounds to cover our legs – even Devon and me.  The holy springs are believed to have spiritual purifying power.  The pools were full of Hindu people – men, women and children of all ages – praying and purifying themselves under the spouts.


Notice the offerings above the spouts.  These people spend one half of their income on this.  Re-carving of the idols must take place every 10 years according to our driver.

The Monkey Forest is a sanctuary for the monkeys with temples all around. The monkeys are religiously revered.  With steady exposure to tourists, the monkeys are not bashful at all.  Alexis approached one offering some food, unaware that this particular monkey was a cantankerous old fossil.  He quickly jumped at her brandishing his teeth.  From then on, JP was on the lookout for the ‘big’ monkeys that were mean – the small ones were nice, if mischievous.  Devon had a monkey climb on his back searching his pockets for a wallet. A monkey also leapt on me backpack searching for goodies.  Fortunately, no valuables were lost and there were lots of photo ops with monkeys doing adorable things and mama monkeys caring for their babies.  We also got to see some fights among the territorial males.  Something for everyone.

Some great photos!  As long as they stay away from me I am happy to look at monkeys!  Unfortunately, when they run at any of my family growling I want to pack up and go somewhere else.  The kids enjoyed it though!

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