Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monkey business, a royal palace and Pura Puseh temple

Monkeys are sacred in Bali. This morning we visited the Monkey Temple situated in a lovely shady forest. We were warned in advance not to get too close to the animals and definitely don't stand under a tree with a monkey above in case he decides to take a bathroom break. There were monkeys everywhere -- young, old, small and large. They are looked after by park rangers who fed them and engaged with them. Lunch for the monkeys includes sweet potatoes, cucumbers and little bananas.

I was trying to get a picture of two very young monkeys in a bush, when an older monkey showed me her teeth and made a little charge at my skirt. It was a bit alarming but my own fault as I was too close to her young. Fortunately, I dodged out of the way just in time.

Our next stop was the centre of Balinese art, Ubud. Bali is home to many craftsmen. We see it as we go by stores with lovely carved doors, shrines and even table tops. Ebony, teak and mahogany are used a lot. Ubud is also where the royal family, who are no longer in power, lives. We wandered around the outer shrines but couldn't actually enter the inner compound. A peek through a slightly open door let us see some very ornate shrines and lovely gardens. There is a hotel as part of the royal compound if you wanted to stay for a few days.

As you probably know Bali, like all of Indonesia was under Dutch rule but Bali wasn't very important to them since there aren't a lot of spices here. The Japanese occupied the islands during World War II until the American bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A week after this the Indonesians seized this opportunity to declare their independence from the Dutch, who they knew would return. In the meantime the Japanese turned a blind eye to the Indonesians liberating Japanese guns. There were some hard fought battles before Indonesia finally gained her independence under President Sukarno in the early 1950s.

A short drive took us to the village of Batuan, a place noted for its artwork and style of painting that originated in the village in the 1930s and has since emerged into a major Balinese artistic style, known as Batuan painting. Once again we donned a sarong before our visit to the village temple, known as Pura Puseh, an ancient structure dating from the 11th century and embellished with intricate stone carvings.

Our afternoon ended back on Jimbaran beach swimming in the big waves once again. Yesterday we moved to join the cruise part of our holiday. Normally, we don't stay in large chain hotels but the Intercontinental, where we are now, has beautiful grounds and six pools. We jumped in one of them after our ocean swim and felt like we were swimming in treacle since the pools don't have any salt in them. Back to the beach for our last full day in Bali tomorrow.









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