Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hanging out In Ubud

On Wednesday the rest of the mob left early for their day of cycling (down hill mostly from the starting point of Lake Batur, formed in the crater of the volcano at Kintamani in NE Bali) while we had a day hanging out in Ubud.

I enjoyed the morning exploring the crazy busy area down near Tjamphuan Bridge at the western end of Jalan Raya Ubud. I knew that the first day of October was the start of a long period of cleansing ceremonies at the temple and there would be a lot of activity. This is something that only happens every ten years so I knew it was likely to be big.  I bet Janet de Neefe and all the crew trying to launch the first day of the nearby Writers and Readers festival were very stressed about the amount of traffic clogging the narrow access roads.

I mistakenly chose the most difficult entry to the temple via the steep and slippery steps along the Tjamphuan river gorge. And then I realised I’d made another error in not having the required sarong and arm coverings to be able to enter the temple for a closer look at all the preparations. This was as close as I could get…….

While most of the local people at the temple were busy with their preparations a full scale gamelan orchestra, all dressed in pristine white were playing mesmerising percussion patterns in a small shaded pavilion overlooking the gorge and the temple.

I found the official entry to the temple eventually – much more fitting for the celebrations ahead.

Walking back up busy Jalan Raya Ubud there were groups of locals cleaning and cutting overhanging foliage and sweeping the footpaths.  I thought this group were very glamorously dressed for their task.

Walking back to the hotel to pick up Maddie and Rob for our lunch date I could see lots of activity and people gathering around the football field in the middle of the village.  More beautifully dressed locals waiting expectantly……

Later, walking back up to Jalan Raya Ubud for our after lunch gelato we saw that things had moved forward around the football field.  Open trucks were delivering hordes of people all dressed for ceremony around the field……….and the northern end of Monkey Forest Road had been completely cleared of traffic. Running down the length of the road was a ribbon of white cloth strewn with marigolds, offerings and coins.

All the shops and homestays along the road had prepared extra special offerings and little shrines. It all looked very festive.

As we reached the intersection of Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raya Ubud we, along with all the other onlookers and mystified tourists, were instructed to be seated as the procession started.  There were hundreds of people involved, groups from the temples in the villages surrounding Ubud, all beautifully dressed and decorated, carrying gilded shrines, singing, playing percussion instruments, doing Barong dances – an amazing sight!!

The cyclists had all returned safely by around 4.00pm after a fantastic day, leaving not a lot of time until G &Ts and the promise of another wonderful meal ahead.

I had managed to get us a table at Ibu Rai on Monkey Forest Road. It had come highly recommended by John and is booked out most nights.  Despite the late booking we had been given a fantastic table in this gorgeously decorated space.  We could tell straight away it was going to be a very special night.

I swear this duck in coriander and mushroom ravioli is one of the best meals I have every eaten (big call!) and this fuzzy, badly lit pic does not do it any justice at all!

Rob and I ended off a perfect evening at the cp lounge bar enjoying the great live music and vibe of this laid back open air bar right next to our hotel.

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