Tuesday, 17th January, 2017
We had a late start to the morning. Courtney, me and two others made a trip to the supermarket for medicine, markers and souvenirs. It is a huge place. Slightly smaller than Costco but with two levels. It has a small pharmacy, clothes, groceries, a wide range of souvenirs and a collection of children’s books with the English translation. I had to get one. The English is just…so bad. See the below slideshow for a read.
(HORRIBLY TRANSLATED CHILDREN’S BOOK SLIDESHOW)
Our list gathered with the required impulse buy of strange candies, we headed out to find a taxi and parted ways. They went to teach and I went to meet some locals.
Ubud Monkey Forest
The Ubud Monkey Forest costs IDR 40, 000 (4AUD) to get in. You can spend as long as you like in the large forest, exploring the winding pathways, relaxing in the absence of traffic noise and, of course, meeting the monkeys. There are 678 of them, according to an information sign. For another couple of dollars you can get a bunch of bananas. As the website says: “do not hide the food because the monkey will know”.
The first monkey came up and took the banana from me before I knew what was happening. Another saw what was happening and waltzed over, taking it firmly from me. I walked a short ways before another sighted me, a baby hanging on to her belly. She scampers over and reaches up, standing on two legs to take banana. She sits, unpeels it and starts eating, leaving small monkey bites all around the fruit.
Others were not so suddenly spotted by the monkeys and several people throughout the day hold the banana in the air. A monkey scampers over and swings them selves up to sit on their shoulder, take the banana and eat it before leaving. While there will be no absence of monkeys to feed they were definitely hungrier in the morning. Later in the day a few incredulous tourists were rejected by monkeys and had to find hungrier ones.
The are everywhere. Sitting in the walkways, swinging through the trees, snoozing on the thick wooden rails. Younger monkeys roll across the ground together, roughhousing. I spent hours there. A large pool and tree dominates the centre of the forest and walkways branch off to a temple and stream, to a viewing stage, to a small graveyard marked with strange names – presumably monkeys.
There are caretakers everywhere, making sure no one touches the monkeys or aggravates them in other ways. They have seeds and/or nuts and I see them give a boy a handful and tell him to hold it up in the air. The moment he does a monkey climbs up and starts eating. It was amazing. I mean, look at that face.
Lost and Missing Price Tags
I head out, deciding I need a nice dress from Bali and want to get a good look at the markets. As shopping doesn’t exactly scream fun for me I have to be in a particular mood and the whole excursion goes better if I just find what I want quickly.
I did not find what I wanted quickly. I picked up some keychains (which I collect and have many of) and enjoyed my stroll down a street with many shops. Soon I am in the heart of Ubud and take a spur of the moment stroll through the Ubud Palace which is surprisingly small.
The markets were actually…scary. It was a scary trip. Stalls pressed right up against each other and vendors attract your attention. “Hello, excuse me, lady, buy a sarong?”. The deeper you go the narrower the paths get and sooner or later you’re going to end up in the same situation I did. Cornered in a tiny stall with no idea how you got there, holding a dress and negotiating the price. It was my first attempt at negotiating without Courtney, besides a very reasonable taxi driver, and I think I did okay.
They have quite a few tricks, these salespeople. Holding onto your purchase after you’ve paid them. Slipping your money from your pocket or bag. A volunteer lost 100USD the previous week when she was shown how to tie a sarong and this woman offered to just slip my purchase into my handbag. Surrounding stalls will try to grab your attention more fervently once you’ve spent money, to the point of grabbing your arm and holding on. Luckily, I can go from lost and kind to scary in a heartbeat so she let go pretty fast. Gotta try everything once, but I’m not eager to visit such a packed market again.
I wander, taking a nice walk down a near empty lane filled with rice fields, a couple of cafes and a backpackers. Eventually I find the calmer part of Ubud and settle in the Laughing Buddah for some water and fresh fruit. It’s my last night in Indonesia so I meet Courtney and the others at their accommodation, use their shower and go down to a nice restaurant with them for drinks and dinner. By eight I’m on my way to the airport, quizzing a talkative taxi driver.
They have a president – Joko Widoko. Nothing good to say about a healthcare system and they go through the same amount of schooling as people in Australia and America, though it is less common to go on to University.
I meet a middle-aged man who came with a friend and is leaving earlier. Coincidentally, he’s going to start his degree to become a pilot at the same university and campus I study at, though I will be in Italy at the time. I sleep through the plane ride and arrive back in Brisbane at seven in the morning, ready to apply to the Italian Consulate for my student visa.