Bali Day 3: Ubud

Well we’re both sick. What Jenn originally thought was caused by pollution was a head cold, and her napping all day yesterday wasn’t from a lack of sleep because of the flights entirely, but partly fighting this thing off. But now I have it too, the sore throat, the start of the congestion. Great.

We went to the front desk and extended our stay a night, postponed the ferry to Gili Air, and booked a day tour with a driver to Ubud and around. The idea is we’re going to mostly sit in a car all day and look out the window. It should be a relaxing day without much energy spent. Puri Santrian keeps us in the same upgraded room for the same “superior” room cost.

Before we go we have breakfast and then grab the stuff we want from our room. We have our massage and facial still planned for 9:30 which takes us to 10:30, not long before our 11:00 start on our tour. Oh we’re so pampered. The service here is amazing, everyone seems genuinely in a good mood. Not just at our hotel but in general. Where a lot of spots in India we noted a good attempt to make things perfect like say at the Clarks Shiraz there was always something not quite finished or right like exposed bolt ends sticking out of the bottom of the table hit your knee on, that sort of thing. Here though things are immaculate.

We’re picked up by our driver Mr. Tom at 11 and head out. Our first stop is a weaving display, but it’s there to sell you things. He asks if we want to see wood carvings and we say no. We’re trying to see more nature and culture. Our next stop then is a temple, more our speed. It’s also tourist, but probably the best maintained one on the island with lots of bright red paint and gold trim.

Up next we tick off the nature bit with a waterfall. Normally we’d be right there in the water with everyone else, but not today. Instead its sorbet and young coconut water with some potato chips with some relaxation.

From here we went on to the Ubud Monkey Park. Monkeys follow food, and they feed them here so here they congregate. Everywhere you look there are monkeys grooming and chasing and playing. We’ve seen so many different monkeys this trip, but they’re always fun. I see a woman eating a banana and it reminds me how much we’re all just weird hairless monkeys of a sort. Apes anyway. When will I stop being so interested in these guys.

Back in the car we’re ready for our lunch and hope we can find a good place to stop. Our driver says he knows a place away from Ubud which is a bustling mess of tourists more western than Indonesian. We stop at a restaurant along the river that is in the middle of some book related conference. Luckily the downstairs still was serving so we got a seat. I’m still amazed every time we eat how we can have such great food without paying an arm and a leg. We had great food and thanked our driver for a good selection.

We’re pretty done at this point so we ask to just see the rice terraces the area is known for on our way back to the hotel.

The rice terraces were so unimpressive I hardly cared to take a photo. Especially after the ones I saw in Bhutan and later in the Philippines. Worse still the streets are lined with shops and more tourists than you can shake a stick at. You can’t even get a clean view of the terraces there are tourist walking all around and among them. There are locals all dressed up and posing for pictures. What a letdown.

On the way back we drove through some quiet village roads and saw active rice fields being farmed and heard about how the local Bali rice has only 2 seasons per year while the modern rice can grow 3 times per year. We learn about Balinese weddings and community. This is what we’re interested in. If we could have just taken a car out to the mountains and spent the day in a village that would have been better. The villages look fairly prosperous though I believe part of that is money sent home from the booming tourist areas.

Back at our hotel we’re set to pass out, both feeling sicker than before. Today wasn’t quite as restful as we’d hoped with more walking than planned.

Waking up I get my computer online and check my email to find some really sad news. My Great Aunt Anne has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has been moved to a care facility and has been sedated. My mother has flown out from Texas to say good bye. As I got older I grew to appreciate my Great Aunt more and more, she always had something smart to say and she was always stoic. I had the opportunity to visit just over a month ago while visiting my grandparents and I’m thankful I took the opportunity to see her one last time at home in comfort with everyone in good spirits. I know at this point she won’t be with us long and I think about that a lot over dinner. Love you Aunt Punk.

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