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South Ubud and the Monkey Forest

On the morning of our second day in Ubud, the skies opened, and torrential rains fell on the city. In the hotel restaurant, we decided to experiment with a dish known as the Jaffle which was served as a breakfast food in our hotel. It proved to be a very well buttered grilled cheese sandwich cooked in a kind of a press –which might for lack of a better word be called a Jaffle press. The coffee was tasty and fresh, but milk was served in the form of a strange and insoluble powder, which just floated throughout the cup as a kind of roiling particulate, like snowflakes in a night blizzard.

We responded to the rain by setting up the mobile offices in a nearby restaurant with a beautiful trickling water garden, large tables,made of minimally processed rain forest trees and a number of small sweet smelling flowering shrubs, one of which contained, notably, a large bat, which struggled voluminously to sleep in the small and exposed tree amidst the downpour and the sounds of the restaurant.

The Internet was, unfortunately, more like a thin trickle of information that would dry up from time to time, and we struggled to operate. The coffee on the other hand was stupendous, and served in a vast steaming kettle, just brimming with a thick fragrant brew, a bowl of deep brown local sugar and real honest-to-goodness milk, which easily balanced out the poor data flow.

And then suddenly the sun was out and we were off again, wheeling south, back to the monkey forest. When we saw a local looking fellow on a scooter take a small side path into the forest itself, we followed suit.

Inside the forest, we found ourselves pedaling along a slanting and coiling path of interlocked stone plates, immersed in an entirely unprecedented concentration of monkeys, fighting amongst themselves, harassing passers by, and generally creating the kind of ruckus that only primates can.

On the other side of the forest, we followed the path onto a large paved road, that was a straight shot through about a kilometer of Hindu temple after Hindu temple, many of them devoted to Hanuman, though a diversity of deities were represented. We wheeled on, through another concentration of touristy places, out eventually into the country, where terraced rice paddies and deep ravines containing roaring rivers reigned again.

Feeling the onset of the madness, we stopped for a bowl of Bakso (that delightful Indonesian noodle and meatball soup, which had saved us so many times before).

The Bakso joint was little more than a wooden overhang, which contained a modified version of a cart that had at some point patrolled the streets selling Bakso. Now, in its old age, the cart had been incorporated into this permanent kitchen. In addition, the restaurant sported several very solid teak tables.

We continue to be astonished by the quality of furniture here in Indonesia. Even a humble roadside noodle stand sports very well made and comfortable wooden pieces. If only project K9 were a little further on it’s way to fruition…

The Bakso was delicious and, all be they typically modest portions, a bowl was less than a dollar, and we were back on the cycles in no time. Rain seemed destined to revisit Ubud, and sure enough we were forced to duck into a protected roadside stand (once again sporting very nice hand-made furniture) near the street of temples on our way back. We snacked on peculiar peanut butter-filled pastries, crackers, and jelly, while the rain fell in buckets.

Wheeling through the streets, we explored the back roads of Ubud and came across all manner of shops.  Bicycle repairmen, light bulb saleswomen, Internet cafes and theaters all lined the green streets of the city.  Coming across a strange and ruptured statue of a young boy cast in concrete, we were briefly spooked.  You can see why for yourself below.

It was no more than 20 minutes later that the sun reappeared and we took again to the cycles. We struck out again into the hills, and climbed up a long street of merchants selling musical instruments, wooden masks, and oodles of furniture. Of particular interest was a shop specializing in furniture cobbled together from pieces of old boats. Beautiful rugged wine racks, dining tables, Adirondack chairs, and chests of drawers lay with peeling paint seemingly varnished with seawater.  A fantastic opportunity for western import here, no doubt.

From the summit of this elongated strip of craft houses, we descended back to the main roundabout affixed with Arjuna’s statue, and headed back home to wash up and prepare for dinner.

Dinner was again at the Dewa Warung, which had treated us so well the evening before.  As rare as a repeat dining experience is for AsiaWheeling, we felt there was a certain magic to the cocktail of food, people, and atmosphere that this place involuntarily cultivated.  This evening, we ended up speaking with a woman in town to produce a line of clothing.  A former modern dancer and roommate of circus performers, she provided fantastic perspective on the trade-offs between garment production in Bali and Pushkar, Rajasthan.  As luck would have it, she was a fan of durian and put half of a very large fruit on the table.  We happily obliged by sharing the fruit with her, which was sweet and meaty.

From there, it was a quick wheel home to our nest, followed by a deep slumber before the next day of transit.


Comments

  1. Diane Heditsian | February 1st, 2010 | 12:38 am

    Regarding the durian fruit, wikipedia says: “The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive.” What did you two think? How would you describe the smell and what did it taste like?

  2. Herringbone | February 1st, 2010 | 1:11 am

    yes, hello please! you can, for me, mr. asiawheeling please arrange for import the many tiny boats broken and then for to make of one large table, yes?

  3. Mark/Dad | February 6th, 2010 | 11:44 pm

    Love the bat!!

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