I have no way of knowing whether this is a fact, but I think everybody who plans a trip to Bali lands in Ubud at some point. Not just to walk through the inside of the 9th century cave known as Goa Gajah, “the elephant cave,” or to get pounced on by a monkey in the Monkey Jungle,
but because it is a village that packs a wallop. Ubud has everything.
A foot massage after dinner on the street:
Daytime visits to museums and galleries that are set in lavish gardens, and festooned with welcoming marigolds where you can see a vast collection of paintings by artists, that I believe, are completely absent from the Met:
There was nightly, live, entertainment: dance performances under the stars, folk music in local cafes, and shadow puppet shows. We opted for two different danced versions of the tale of how Sita is abducted by Ravana from the Ramayana tale. The Legong, which is performed with the gamelan, was a bit more accessible than the Kecak, which has no music- only a group of men chanting, but the Kecak is more iconic and is performed with a fire on the stage:
But we didn’t just shop. Steve would have blown his brains out. In fact, he almost did after one full afternoon of walking in and out of every single store on the Ubud Main Road. (And a few side roads.) But he was saved because Ubud is also a central location to take in Pura Goa Lawah aka the Bat Cave Temple because there really are thousands and thousands of bats living in the cave:
Neither the intense odiferousness of mounds of guano, nor flying, screeching bats deter the devoted from making offerings in this cave. In fact, it is a hugely important temple because it is situated close to the sea, and close to the mountains.
We visited the temple at Tirta Empul, with its baths that have been devoted to purification since the year 962. Still today, Hindus from all over Bali come here to be cleansed and blessed with good health:
There was Pura Kehen, another temple dating from the 11th century, that may win the prize as the most ornate and delicately carved. Inside there were magnificent statues of Hindu gods and goddesses. It was mind-boggling just to take in the level of detailed design on every surface of the facade. Even the steps were incised with a motif of individually sculpted swirls:
And there was Yeh Pelu, a 75-foot frieze carved into the rock face of a cliff that tells, in life-size renderings, the story of a heroic hunter warrior. It is not known who did it, or why he did it, but the pundits believe it was done sometime between the 10th and 13th centuries, and the hero may be the Hindu god Krisna:
There was so much more, and I have the 3,788 photos to prove it. I have shared a few, and have loved every minute of recounting some of the highlights of the trip. I guess it was made even sweeter because of the cancellation last year due to my hip. Thank goodness we canceled. I know now that I could never have done that trip with no cartilage. Anyway, this is the last official installment on Indonesia. No doubt I will periodically revisit, but in the meantime, I want to scream out loud THANK YOU to Diane Embree of Bali Barong Tours. She is the travel agent par excellent. She worked with us on every aspect of the itinerary, picked out all of the hotels, and was ALWAYS accesible. Anybody wanting to go to Indonesia, CALL HER. I did just last week, because I want to go back next year- Sulawesi, Sumba, Lombok and the Gili Islands beckon from across the sea! Not to mention more shopping in Ubud.