Quite a day really full of intrigue, song and dance – we were to be transferred from Nusa Lembongan to Ubud, therefore the return leg of the fast track ferry to Sanur first and then taxi transfer from Sanur to Ubud. The ferry was nice and cool and although there was the odd cloud overhead with a look of rain the day boded well. On the other side (Sanur NOT the afterlife) we were shepherded into a waiting white taxi and off we went. Although Bali is a reasonably small place it seems to take an age to get from one place to another and this was the case even with the taxi. We reached our new digs and it was quite nice but the moment we got there the taxi driver asked for some more money but I had been told this was all part of what we had paid the Diving school so told him no more would be forthcoming. During all this confusion of me explaining the situation to the taxi driver I left our camera in his taxi – Damn! I only realised this after he had left and a young lad at the hotel – not even sure if he worked there or not – started ringing up the taxi driver on our behalf. After two or three attempts he finally got through and as the taxi driver lived in Ubud he said he would drop it off later tonight – our fingers and other appendages were well and truly crossed!
Rather than hang around waiting at the hotel we decided it better to have a look around Ubud itself so off we went. Ubud looked a very busy place and this was still not even the high season so I have no idea what it would be like here then! The place is like a Dulux paint colour chart with vivid colours all over the place and quite a few more boutique-style shops than we would normally like with prices to match. We had decided to head off to view one of Ubud’s more accessible attractions – The Sacred Monkey Forest – this was a case of monkeys, monkeys everywhere! There are various signs everywhere telling you not to take bags or water with you but although we did not ignore them we did not exactly follow them either and had our water hanging about us at a jaunty angle – making us the perfect target for a mugging. The lads came in on a surprise run about four or five of them after our flipping water, Liz tells me to give up the goods and to be fair this did seem the correct course of action but it really wound me up to be bullied by nothing more than adolescents testing their balls but they had big teeth and I only had a pair of flip flop style shoes on, so we ‘did a runner’ – Cor Blimey!
Besides the monkeys the Forest is actually a very nice place to visit as it has a very nice waterfall, some deer and some amazing trees (this IS the new me!) with one quite macabre item – a series of graves. The graves were being dug and people’s remains interred but after five years they actual dig up all the remains and cremate them all together! After this harrowing experience we went back to the guesthouse – on the way buying tickets for the night’s Balinese dancing – and hoorah, the camera was there as was the taxi driver so I gave him some money, so he did get his tip after all! Balinese dancing is definitely one to see and this one was no exception – there are lots of very different types of ‘show’ and ours was Legong and we were to watch it in the Palace Gardens – so a very nice setting to boot.
There is a band playing traditional instruments and all of the dancers are made up very colourfully in traditional costume into a character in order to then tell a story via the medium of dance. An old lady keeps asking if you would like a beer every two minutes but this is not obligatory so we did not bother – far too refined! In the audience was a Chinese version of the Queen, God bless ‘er – except she was smaller, more efficient and spoke better English!
The show itself was excellent and during it Liz would tell me what the dance meant so nice and easy for me to follow. It appears you need to have very open eyes to be able to Balinese dance and no blinking either twitchies!
After the dance we had a look about Ubud and groups of men and youths seemed to be working on monstrous creations made of expanded polystyrene or paper mache – these were real hideous things and we found out later these were the Ogah-Ogahs being readied for the ‘Day of Nyepi’ (21/March) these are effigies built to be carried about by the various male groups who then should make loud noises to attract all of the evil spirits.
On the day itself no-one is allowed outside and we would have to buy food from the shops to cover us – people even roam the streets to ensure the rules are followed. It all sounded very interesting if a little like voodoo (that they do!)! We ambled around for a while before settling on a place to have a bite and a beer. On stage were a band called Unb’rocken who did old English and American Rock classics with their own twist.
They were all excellent guitarists so had a really good sound also they had a little guy playing ‘Drums’ – which was basically a box with a set of strings and a speaker attached – very good. Me and Liz were nodding our heads most appreciatively and then half way through an American guy joined in on the harmonica – not us, the band! – looks like he had been using a far more advanced ‘Learn to play the Harmonica’ book than I had and obviously past ‘Chapter 3 – Puffy Billy’, so the whole thing had a great vibe everyone getting their ‘Rock On’!