Markets, Monkeys and Fire

We left our peaceful bubble in Sanur and headed to Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud. We found it impossible to resist the calls of the market touts and many a conversation went as follows: “How much for this?” “200,000 ruppee” “Too much, never mind” “Okay, 20,000?” Basically this was going from $20 to $2 in one fell swoop. That’s some easy bargaining and the result is that we bought a bunch of stuff. Maybe it wasn’t the greatest idea to fill our backpacks in the first week, but I’d like to see you try to resist.

We had to find a diversion from the markets. What better than hundreds of playful monkeys? Approaching the Ubud monkey sanctuary you start to notice that the offerings that grace every doorstep have been tampered with. In fact they’ve been completely foraged; all signs of rice and fruit have vanished. The monkeys have no respect for sanctity.

Once you enter the park you are surrounded. If your’re carrying bananas, you’re only chance of survival is to drop them and run, lest you want to be covered from head to toe in hungry monkeys. We saw this happen to several people and it was rather frightening. In one of Ubud’s freak downpours (of which there were several during our stay) we huddled with a group of monkeys under and overhang. This seemed to displease them and one in particular decided to show us his teeth, which we at first mistook for a smile. We won’t be making that mistake again.

The night’s festivities included a traditional Indonesian dance performance , followed by a man in a trance kicking hot coals at the audience, followed by another freak downpour. The latter left us stranded under another overhang. Cleverly, we found a giant piece of plastic to put over our heads and we inched along in the rain like some huge plastic caterpillar. Now that was a performance you could have sold tickets to.

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