Friday, August 6, 2010

Down time

So Ubud has been my base for a few days now. It’s entirely possible to walk around the city of Ubud itself within an hour so after a day you’ve exhausted the sights to see within the city. I wandered into the monkey sanctuary the other day to check out Ubud’s primate population. There are no bars to keep the monkey population separate from the humans so you do get up close and personal. I witnessed screaming females, indifferent males, the old picking fleas off the young, bare arses cocked up in the air by all, endless tantrums, food fights and much unruly behaviour. And that was just the Australians.
I decided to check out the sights of the surrounding area, if for no other reason than to get back into the countryside. Mopeds are everywhere here - not much use if you’ve, er, mislaid your driver’s licence - but bicycles are a little harder to come by. Spotting some bikes outside a shop the other day I enquired within how much it would cost to rent a bike.
‘25,000 Rp’
‘Do I need to pay a deposit also?’
‘If you like.’
I didn’t. 11km from Ubud - and uphill all the way - is Gunung Kawi, a collection of stone shrines carved - a la Petra - into cliffs on either side of a valley. To gain entry to the temple within you must wear a sarong and there are plenty of old ladies at the entrance fighting with each other to supply you with sarongs of questionable quality. Anyway, Kawi is quite impressive for sure but not, I feel, somewhere that’ll live long in the memory. At this stage temples are inspiring the same indifference in me as European cathedrals.
The cycle there and back was worth it all though. Balinese pupils - perhaps Indonesian pupils in general - are marched to school singing and/or chanting what sounds like it might be the Indonesia national anthem. It’s an impressive sight watching them march along in their perfectly formed lines but I couldn‘t help wondering what they do for fun.
Balinese dance troupes are internationally renowned apparently and Ubud is a traditional dance hotspot so I’m going along to one of the performances tonight to see what I hope will not prove to be the Balinese equivalent of Riverdance. Now I’m genuinely not one for traditional dance of any description so there had to be a hook, and as I returned from today’s cycle, I saw it: ‘FIRE DANCE’ - the poster screamed and the pyromaniac in me knew that this was the dance for me. Culture, tradition and FIRE in big capital letters - who wouldn’t be drawn to it?
More on the dance show anon.

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