City of culture, art, monkeys.. and pigs!
26.09.2009 - 29.09.2009 26 °C
After negotiating a nice, first floor room in a Homestay amongst the locals of East Ubud and catching up on some reading on our private veranda with palm top views, we were woken at dawn by the raucous crows of all the local Cockrells. A breakfast of strong coffee and banana pancakes later, we were ready for our self-guided walk around the local villages ( Bandy navigating with the guidebook and Gregory carrying everything!)
First stop was the Monkey Forest Sanctuary (officially called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana), a fairly substantial, designated section of jungle filled with playful yet mischievous monkeys (i have to admit to recognising a certain family resemblance!). All this amidst an Indiana Jones-esque setting of ruined and overgrown temples, rickety bridges and damp rainforest (i just wish i had brought a brown leather Fedora). The scenery was amazing, and we were up well before all the other westerners so it was just us and the wildlife which made us feel even more privileged.
Eventually we broke out of the jungle into the surrounding villages of Nyuhkuning, Dagin Lebak and Katik Lantang, strolling through as the locals smilingly set about their daily work. The back-drop was equally mouth-watering, rice with little thatched houses and crumbling temples set amongst the incredibly green and verdent landscape of rice paddies and coconut palms.
After such an epic walk we had understandably worked up quite an appetite, and luckily (deliberately) our self-guided 'tour' finished up right outside a restaurant that sell only the fabled Babi Guling, a spit roasted, suckling pig stuffed with a Balinese spice paste and basted for hours in coconut water. This is usually a ceremonial dish, only eaten at weddings and big events, and this place in Ubud is only one of a few in Bali to sell it. Not to say that we invest a lot of time thinking about our stomachs on this trip, but we had been salivating about this particular dish since reading about it in the guide book on the flight out of London... My god it was good, and so good in fact we ate the exact same lunch again the next day!
Heading back for our final night at the homestay we came across the local villages plucking and preparing numerous ducks over the fast running stream alongside the path. It turned out that there was to be a wedding the next day and everyone was pitching in with the preparations, culminating in us being ironically awoken the next morning by the pained squeals of a LARGE pig being slaughtered for the Babui Guling. It was then shaved and butchered beside the same stream as we left to catch our bus to Padangbai for the ferry to Lombok, literally sidestepping the puddles of blood as we waved farewell.