Monkey Business in Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest Sanctuary is home to around 200 macaque monkeys and three Hindu temples that were built in the middle of the 14th Century. The monkeys roam freely which can be both fascinating and frightening. I am generally fascinated and have stood, mesmerized at the zoo, watching these distant relatives do things people do. But today a precocious teenage monkey decided I probably had something he wanted in my purse. I know better than to carry food into Monkey Forest so I had nothing. But he jumped on to my shoulder and in a split second, he had himself draped around me, grappling with the zipper on my bag and then my camera case. I had just witnessed two monkeys fighting and I saw the vicious teeth those little creatures have so I didn’t want to upset him in any way. As he readjusted his grip around my neck I slowly lowered myself as close to the ground as I could get hoping he’d hop off. No such luck. The next thing I knew he swung around my arm, a Tarzan-like move, and was on my head. I know their penchant for grooming and I didn’t want to go there! I saw a cement pillar near by with a flat top. I moved close and tilted my head. Junior finally got the message and left in a bit of a huff. I gave the monkeys a wide berth for the remainder of my visit today, and I wasn’t approached again.

They’re just so cute when they’re little!

Then they become teenagers…

And then, ah well, it happens to all of us.

The lush green jungle is a feast for the eyes. If you notice about half way down on the right side of this photo, two mossy green alligators perch on the edge of a cliff.

The sidewalks are spotlessly clean and are kept that way by women with pink dustbins and bamboo brooms. I watched a tourist intentionally drop a plastic bag on the ground. Another person in the group said, “There are recycle containers for that.” His reply, “Oh, the monkeys will take care of it.” Within moments a green uniformed Forest Attendant picked up the bag and took it to the recycle bin.

Monkey Forest Sanctuary is also a cemetery used by the village of Padangtegal for their cremations and burial grounds.

Directly across from the headstones is the cremation area. There had recently been a cremation and smoke was still rising.

The temples are awe-inspiring with their statuary and intricately carved edifices.

I wonder what the ceremonies looked like that were held here in the 14th Century. Probably not much different from what they are today.

No trip into Monkey Forest would be complete for me without seeing the incredible dragon bridge. Shrouded in the dripping tendrils of the banyan trees that surround it, the bridge spans the rushing creek in the chasm below.

Magnificent! And so was the day. My trail home took me past Atman and I had to stop. Just look at these bananas, fried in butter with two sauces on the side, one is coconut cream and the other is carmelized raw cane sugar. Go ahead and drool. It was beyond delicious!

Hanoman Street in Ubud

I love the surprises each day brings. After another superb meal at Atman Cafe I head north on Hanoman Street.

Hanoman is one of the two main arteries running north and south through Ubud. I set off, camera in hand, to capture some images that are representative of the flavor of the village. This carved, painted door with a soaring crown and gargoyle is typical Balinese architecture. It is inserted into a high brick wall that surrounds a family compound or perhaps a temple.

There are always steps up to the doorway so you can’t quite see what’s in there. Today curiosity triumphed. I climbed the stairs and took a peek¬† through the partially open door. There was a large open space bordered by several buildings that I assume are dwellings. The ornate facades of these homes are protected by statues of gods or fierce creatures.

My mission for the afternoon is to visit the new CoCo Supermarket and pick up a few snacks for evening munching. I hadn’t realized until now what a snacker I am! Not having a kitchen with stocked cupboards handy is definitely a lifestyle change. I comb the gleaming isles of the large store. There are thousands of varieties of chips, cookies, and candies. My search is successful and I leave with two apples and a bag of spicy Thai peanuts. There is a somber look to the sky as I head home so I pick up the pace hoping to reach cover before a downpour.

I am approaching my turn when Hanoman Street becomes suddenly quiet. No traffic. That can only mean one thing. Looking up the street I see them coming. A ceremonial procession is making its way toward me.

The black and white plaid fabric is seen everywhere in Bali. I was told that it represents balance.

They pass directly in front of me on their way to the temple to make the offerings that the women are carrying on their heads.¬† I don’t want to be the obnoxious tourist who intrudes upon their traditional rituals with camera flashing, so I try to be discreet and probably miss the best shots as a result.

The parade continues on and I head down the walled corridor that will take me home. As I turn the corner at the top of the steps, there beside my door is a canang sari, a small basket woven of palm fronds containing an offering to the gods. The Balinese present these offerings three times a day. Sometimes I wonder how the women get anything else done. They seem to sit for hours every day making literally dozens of these small gifts.

Finally back on my balcony I watch the threatening clouds approach.

There’s a stiff breeze and…ahhh yes! Here comes the rain!

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