While we spent the majority of our one week in Bali in the town of Kuta, we did make a day trip up to Ubud. We really wanted to see a few things there, but ultimately ended up only really getting to see the Ubud Monkey Forest – Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana.
A quick pit-stop to develop some pictures
We started our day off quite early as it was a long ride to Ubud from Kuta. Leaving around 8am, we started off towards Colour Digital Photo Lab to pick up some film Briana had dropped off on an earlier outing to Tanah Lot. It went much speedier this time, since we did not get lost (yet). After getting the film, we then proceeded up towards Ubud.
The ride was relatively easy, although it did require constant checking of the GPS. The roads were always having little turns to them, and nothing was labeled very simply. The best indicator we were going in the right direction was that we were traveling north and uphill. I knew that was the direction of Ubud.
Occasionally, we’d see a sign. I’m pretty sure we technically got lost a few times because the GPS would not know where we were. Luckily, Briana managed to keep up on track and around noon we finally managed to arrive.
Grabbing a bite to eat
We were very hungry, so made a b-line to Earth Cafe. Briana read that it offered good vegetarian options at a fair price so we decided that was where we should go. We were moderately surprised to find that it was the exact same menu as the Zula Vegetarian in Kuta.
Upon finishing our meal, we rode about 3 minutes to the entrance of the Monkey Forest. Parking was a bit confusing, as there seemed to be several lots, all for cars, but none for bikes.
A winding “road” to park
An attendant directed us towards a small alley looking path for us to go. It ended up being a very long and very narrow path through steep twists and turns – a little harrowing, but fun – that eventually put us at the main entrance as well as the bike parking.
We purchased our tickets to enter the temple for 40,000 IDR (~$3.00) each. The first warnings upon entering the park, and posted all throughout as well, is to not have food with you. And if you do have food and a monkey wants it, that food now belongs to the monkey.
The monkeys are fierce, and although they appear cute and fun loving, they are also mischievous little fiends. There were a few occasions they tried to sneak up and grab the bag when we put it down for a rest to grab water.
All about the monkeys
The sacred Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary is populated by over 600 Balinese Long-Tailed Macaques. The monkeys belong to one of five groups, each which occupies it’s own territory throughout the park. The park itself is not that large, and only supports such a large number due to human interaction. As a result, conflicts between the different troops frequently occur. During the dry season, some troops have to cross into other territories to get water.
The monkeys are fed a primary diet of sweet potatoes by staff three times a day, and tourists can purchase bananas to feed to the monkeys. They also received papaya, corn, coconut, and other fruits.
Monkey obesity has become a problem for them. They have access to so much food as well as stealing junk food from tourists (such as chips).
The Monkey Forest is very large
The temple complex covers about 27 acres and contains three Hindu temples constructed in approximately 1350 CE. Tourist may not enter the temples themselves, unless they intend to actually pray and use the temples for their intended purposes. But otherwise, you may wander the compounds and look about as you please.
There is the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal – the Great Temple of Death. It is the main temple in the southwestern part of the park. Here patrons worship the god Hyang Widhi in the personification of Shiva.
The Pura Beji, or Beji temple is in the northwestern part of the park and worships Hyang Widhi in the personification of Gangga. It is a Holy Spring for bathing and spiritual cleansing.
The Pura Prajapati is located in the northeastern park of the park, to worship Hyang Widhi in the personification of Prjapati. A cemetery lies across from this temple, where the dead are buried and then later cremated.
The park is very mountainous, full of jungles, and contains a ravine with a rocky stream. All of which can be visited.
Very odd statues to say the least
One of the most interesting thing about the temple though, is the statues. We can’t believe that upon prior research, and researching afterwards as well, that we could find no information whatsoever regarding the statues and carvings.
They are interesting to say the least.
With many venturing into disturbingly sexual and erotic imagery.
Others are just downright violent.
The best explanation we could find is that imagery is meant to depict and satisfy demons so that they won’t bring misfortune to the living. But perhaps the artists were just a bit disturbed. We’ll leave the answer up to you. Regardless, we wouldn’t recommend bringing young or impressionable children here…
The area also has an amphitheater for various shows that may be put on.
There is also a less dense forested area with information about the trees.
In search of waterfalls
Once we left the forest, we tried our best to find a waterfall about 30 minutes drive east. My phone was almost dead and not wanting to have the GPS work. We got close, but ultimately never did make it. We got a few great shots of a volcano however and a wonderful look into local Balinese life.
I ultimately decided to give up, with the sun beginning to sink and knowing we had a long way to go, and a decent amount of driving in the dark to do. Briana was upset, because she is sure she could have directed us to the waterfall (we were very close admittedly), but it is what it is.
Getting back was not quite as simple. We had made some weird turns, but ultimately just headed south towards Denpasar knowing we could figure out how to get to Kuta from there. My phone was dead by this point.
Watch out for cops
The ride went smooth mostly. I got caught by a cop at a check-point, who promptly pointed out my license did not allow me to drive a motorbike. He asked me who rented the bike, and when I replied our AirBNB host, he just sighed and rolled his eyes. He told us, “Get a license tomorrow.” and then shooed us on our way. I really thought we were going to have to bribe our way out of it.
As we approached town, the sun was almost set, and we didn’t know how to get back properly. We pulled over at a Circle K, got a drink and charged my phone for about thirty minutes. It wasn’t much, but it got my phone back up to 20% and gave our sore butts a rest from the bike. We then headed off, through the dark and finally wound up about an hour later back at our AirBNB.