Sunday, January 30, 2011

At Long (Long Long) Last

This is the face of joyous relief. To give you the very short version - it turns out the volcano was on Java, not on Bali, and didn't cause any major problems for neighboring villages except for of course, the airlines, who were not able to fly through the ash cloud. And unfortunately, the volcano kept erupting and erupting get the idea. In the end, we entered the nimbus loop of flight delays and cancellations which lasted precisely 2 days, 3 hours, and 43 minutes. Gross. But Cathay was lovely enough to put us up in the airport hotel and feed us, so it was not the end of the world, just a little taste of purgatory.

 But enough of that. Ubud, the area of Bali we've chosen to spend our days, is stunning. We explored the market and village temples this morning and rounded out the day with a visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana). There are over 450 Balinese Macaques in the sanctuary, as well as 4 temples, a stream, and a lush jungle. The first thing to know about the sanctuary is that the monkeys run the show. They are stalking down every path, playing, fighting, bathing, drinking, and most importantly eating. And occasionally, they go up to a person and not exactly beg, but instead demand food.
And they don't mean in a few mintues after you've had a chance to exchange some rupia for a stack of bananas, they mean right this freakin instant. They will reach up and stick little hands in your pockets, stamp their feet in frustration, and generally make a little monkey mayhem until you give up the banana. Fortunately most of the time they are content to sit around, pick fleas out of each other's fur, lick the walls (for moisture the park ranger told us?), and generally tend to their monkey business.

And that worked out quite well for us, leaving us to explore the other sites within the sanctuary.  The site was built in the mid-14th century during the Pejeng Dynasty and contains three holy temples and two graveyards.

The Pura Dalem Agung Temple (Temple of the Dead) was the most ostentatious. We donned the sarang to be admitted (see above picture) and entered the temple gates. We were the only people in the complex so it was quiet and calm. We roamed around for a while, taking pictures of the moss-covered stonework, massive gates, and exquistely carved statues.
After Pura Dalem Agung, we headed down a long flight of stairs to the Holy Bathing Temple, which hugs the river and uses some diverted water to fill a stone bathing area, which is the sacred bathing place for the gods' disciples. This temple has three Mandalas (components). The holy bathing site is the Madya Mandala, the Utama Mandala is where the gods's rest, and the Nista Mandala, at the opening of the bridge over the river, is where the normal human beings bath. 
 The final temple is Pura Prajapati (the funeral or cremation temple). Cremation is a very big thing in Balienese culture, involving an elaborate ceremony, family, friends, and for wealthy families, even a flamethrower. Wow.

The photo on the right is of a park worker "cleaning" the moss off the rock carving with a blowtorch. Some guys have all the luck.


  1. Yaaaay!! You made it! So glad to hear you're back on track. :)

  2. I am LOVING every minute of these blog postings! I miss you, Sarah, and love hearing your giggles in the videos...feels like you're right next to me. xoxo, Danny

  3. The place in Bali you guys visited is indeed stunning! Thanks for sharing!