October 26, 2014

Temples and monkey butts - BALI DAY 4

Half time approached quickly and day four of my trip marked the first joint travel day with my Austrian ladies. As much as I love solo travel, having friends there my age, who know me from way back, who I don't have to explain to what I'm doing, what I've done, what is still to come - it ruled!

Another perk of traveling in a group - more footage!
We commenced our day at Kuta beach to create our game plan. I believe the key element to successfully accommodating everyone's must-sees and must-dos in a short time is planning. You can fang it all you want and be spontaneous, but if by the end of the holiday you or someone in your group had to compromise constantly, remembering the trip as something positive and worthwhile is going to be hard.

Firstly, lay out your budgets. Don't expect someone on a student allowance to go to an upmarket sea food restaurant or catch a cab for two short blocks. Secondly, lay out your sights - and then cull! We had four days, so from a list of 30 or so things (thanks Lonely Planet for spoiling us with options) we decided on four activities - see a temple, see the rice fields, go snorkeling, go to the beach. 

Once all was decided and we had enough ocean in our bikini bottoms for the day, we packed our sandy supplies and hailed a cab to take us to Ulu Watu to cross off our first activity - see a temple. We chose Pura Luhur Uluwatu because the cliffs looked divine on paper, the cab ride was short and cheap and our travel guide promised us monkeys (!!!).
I was quite familiar with being hassled at the beach before this trip - it's pretty standard in Italy - but the Balinese persistence of these ladies in 40 degree heat was admirable. And at times frustrating.

At the temple we found purple sarongs and yellow sashes to cover our confronting female bodies with, before we could enter.

Hiding all those sex and impurity oozing female body parts. Knee caps and such.

We met a couple with a Cockney accent at the entrance who warned us about the "brutal and aggressive monkeys who stole prescription glasses". Their hilarious accent as well as the possibility of being slapped by monkeys trying to steal our sunnies got us so excited we hastily stumbled down the track. One of us had a stick and was on monkey watch, while the other two fired away on their cameras. Once inside though, it was pretty difficult to not completely disregard your surroundings and simply immerse in the sacredness and divinity of the pura.

The heat, it seemed, boiled the surrounding air and even for those of us who pursue cardiovascular activities regularly, it was quite challenging to make it to the many different peaks of the huge temple complex. Let me tell you every step, sweat drip and square inch of sunburn was well worth it. Check out my photo diary post of Day 4 for some breathtaking views.

Can you see the mix of terror and pride looming on my face?

When we finally made it to the monkey pools, we were quite disappointed to say the least. No primate battles were held, no snatching of sunglasses, prescription or other, happened and quite frankly some of these monkeys were just shamelessly bored of our presence. Still, they're pretty gross and cute creatures.

This is how much they cared for our presence and possessions for that matter. Maybe they just don't like English people?
Once back at the entrance, we slurped out of coconuts and decided to skip Ulu Watu's famous surf beaches in favour of not getting heat stroke or skin cancer. Another day I say! Our nifty cabbie Ketut unsuccessfully tried to drop us off at every single restaurant he had a commission deal with on our way back. Here's some well meant advice: Don't get angry over this, don't be rude, these guys are trying to make money and they're working hard for it. If you're not interested in something, tell them and they won't pester you about it. It's as simple as understanding and respecting a different culture. Ketut did end up giving us an awesome deal for our next adventure and we saw him again bright and early the next morning.

And yeah....we spent the rest of our day feeling like wilted cucumbers and doing this: