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Showing posts from November, 2017

Denpasar on Purpose & Kuta by Accident

Ubud is lovely. Nearly a paradise. When i arrived i thought i never wanted to leave, but by day four, i was ready to move on. The centre is sort of phoney in a perfect sort of way. Inviting restaurants and bars and shops for tourists, english speaking staff, abundant taxis, juice and gelato stands, walkable, clean, easy.
I flew to Denpasar for one day and night and realized only then how happy i was to be in a new city. A real city. Dirty, crowded, busy. With a momentum of its own that did not centre around me, the visitor.
The airport is in Denpasar, so if you are going anywhere in Bali you will likely pass through, but most people don't stay. I would have skipped it myself but i didn't want to be in a rush to get through traffic from Bali to make a flight. So i took an uber from Ubud (a complete rip off compared to a regular taxi, as it turned out) to Denpasar and checked in at my accommodations: the Nakula Familiar Inn. The rooms felt like your Grandma's neglected basemen…

No Elephants or Menstruation at the Elephant Temple

On my third day in Ubud i hired a driver to take me to some of the far flung sites. It was nice to drive through the countryside, seeing villages and suburbs, with people going on with daily life, all with the picturesque scenery. We stopped to gawk at more rice terraces, which i really cannot get enough of. I went to the Goa Gajah temple/cave, also known as the elephant cave or temple, which is odd, as there is nothing elephant-like about it. It is just an 11th C temple with a cool cave you enter through the mouth of a carved demon head. There are also pools with sacred water, but the nicest part was the walk up and down stairs in the lush forest to visit a Buddhist temple and lily covered pond. 

I also visited Gunung Kawi which is one of the oldest temples/monuments in the country (so sayeth Lonely Planet). This one forces you up and down hundreds of stairs to descend into a valley to see ruins and temples, then forces you to hike up and down to visit other temples that are less impre…

Ubud on Foot

My first full day in Ubud was spent exploring the city on foot. I visited about six super cool caf├ęs and had an espresso at each. I visited various temples, including the main two.  Before i came here i looked at maps and read my guide book strategizing so i would be sure to see the Balinese Hindu temple architecture and carvings. I needn't have worried because every building here has a small temple and it seems like every second building is a religious site with statues, intricately carved doors, and altars or spirit houses. I took way too many photos.

I Knew there were rice fields one could walk into from Ubud so i found the path and set off. It was completely pastoral aside from a temple complex at the beginning of the journey and the odd sign promising cold coconuts at the end. It was a stunning path through the most verdant of landscapes...palm tress, vines, grasses, and fields of rice.
There was even a picturesque bamboo swing that swung out over the valley. I didn't see muc…

The Monkeys of Ubud

I arrived in Denpasar mid morning and caught a taxi to Ubud. The ride can take an hour and a half, but mine took longer as we got stuck in interminable traffic. I didn't mind too much though as the scenery was great. 
So Bali is predominantly Hindu, unlike Java which is Muslim. So gone are the calls to prayer and here are countless statues of deities and offerings of flowers. The island - or what i saw of it on this first day - is green. Every conceivable shade of green, dotted with flowering vines, orchids, magnolias, is stunning. It is also very touristy. Ubud is a tourist town. Restaurants catering to foreigners, margaritas, pizza, gelato, tour touts, tacky souvenir shops, spas, and bad tattoo studios. The streets are crawling with tourists, most sporting some combination of tie-dyed harem pants, Ganesha tank tops, tattoos, beards, beads, and dresses they would never wear at home. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It just means that the place has a less t…

Yogyakarta: final day

On my final day in Yogyakarta i had planned to go to the cigar factory as it had closed at 2:00 pm the day before and i missed it...but as it turns out it is also closed Saturday and Sunday. Dammit. So i had the day at leisure. Honestly there isn't much to report. I hung out at this cool hipster cafe for a couple of hours where i had a jackfruit burger, which was a revelation. So good. And some excellent coffee.
I then walked to find a cigar store i read about...only to find it had closed. Fuck. But the walk was interesting and i passed markets, paintings, and had fresh soursop juice.

After that i decided to walk out of the downtown area to this other area i had seen when i drove in from the airport where there was a ton of street art and some public sculpture. The walk wasn't too long but in the heat and humidity it felt like a grand trek. 
It didn't disappoint. There was an array of murals, from the great to the sucky, but all were enjoyable to look at. There has been such …

The Descent: Goa Jamblang

Yesterday i hired a car to take me from my hotel in Yogyakarta to Goa Jamblang, a cave about a two hour drive from the city. The cave wasn't listed in my guide book (that's a failure of Lonely Planet, in my opinion, but once it is listed it is sure to get a lot busier) but i had seen pictures of a magical cave on the internet and that was good enough for me.
The ticket was 450,000 rupiah, which was more than reasonable, and but they only allow 25-35 people in per day, so it is important to get there early. I was #5.
We were walked over to the entrance to the cave: a large hole in the ground created by a sink hole, with perfectly vertical sides descending about 60 meters (200 feet ish) to a verdant bottom. 
Our way down? Being lowered on ropes held by a group of slight men in flip flops.  Not exactly comfort inducing, but i figured it was safe, or at least no more dangerous than some of my previous travel exploits. They outfitted each of us in helmets and well worn harnesses.  I was…