Hidden just outside Ubud, in the depths of the Padangtegal rainforest is the sacred Monkey Forest. A beautiful enclosure of lush green trees filled to the brim with cheeky long-tailed macaque monkeys. After a could of days exploring the city of Ubud, a fair few Balinese massages and a lot of restorative fresh coconuts, we Ward clan were ready to get out of hustle and bustle. On our route out of Ubud, into the hills of Mount Batukaru, we stopped off for a quick leg stretch, and a moment of calm among the wild birds and holy temples.
The forest is on a scared Hindu site and contains a number of holy temples for worship. The whole purpose of the site is rather poetically a demonstration on the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature… as a Green supporter, this is something that resinates strongly with me and I feel we are often out of odds with in the western world. Aside from organising out compost and sorting the recycling the concept of synergy can easily be lost on us busy city dwellers. The energy of the space and the peace and quiet was a lovely chance to listen to the amazing sounds of the birds and wildlife all living in the abundance of vivid green trees.
Of course, trying to be respectful I kept my camera hidden until I was asked if i’d take a picture of the holy men. They were more then happy to strike a pose.
Among those looking after the site are also the keepers of the monkeys. If you don;t mind the idea of a monkey tail swinging into your open mouth they will coax them onto your shoulders using pandan leaves.
The Balinese are some of the most considerate and kind people I have ever met. If you didn’t know this or have yet to meet a Balinese it is probably because they all (rather wisely) choose to remain in Bali. Such is the strong sense of community and unity among their kind, that they spend much of their time in worship or celebration. (Even their funerals warrant vast street style parties) Little miss Polly (pictured below) might have been the cutest kid I have ever met. We bonded over our love of barbie whilst buying meatball mie soto from a local street vendor in Munduk
Enroute to our third destination, The Menjanjan Resort on the west coast of the island, we stopped off at one of Bali’s most specacular sights. The Gitgit waterfalls. A thirty five metre jet of the freshest water jetted out from the hills. Ice cold and the purist you have ever tasted (sorry evian) It was certainly worth the journey.
It was a bit of a walk down but there were lots of lovely trinkets, incense and edible delights to peruse on the way. Including a stand selling a rather obscure and unique variety of arabica Civet coffee. I was explained that the coffee is feeding the beans to the Civet cat, who then poos it out undigested. Supposedly this is a highly desirable (and expensive) coffee. To be honest a cup of traditional balinese brew with thick coconut milk is far more delicious, but I gave it a try.
Standing 5 metres away from the falls you could feel the breeze of speed from the water jetting out. It was rather soul cleansing. I left feeling a hell of a lot purer. There is nothing like a splash around under a waterfall and a loud, clear ohm to wash away life’s debris.