Mentom - Singapore 2012

© Mentom – May 2012

Taxi to volcano then? - Bali in 7 days - Part 3

Sunday 30 January 2011, by Mentom

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Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

The Monkey Forest is part of the "classics" of Ubud. For one, it is within the town area, thus not requiring any taxi or similar transportation service. For two, it has an official entrance fee that does not need to be "negotiated".

According to the Internet, a Hindu temple existed on this site since the 14th century. The actual temple constructions however, although looking very old, date only several years back. The climate and probably the deterioration of the soft volcanic material used seem to create this "old" effect.

Beside the temple constructions, one can deduce the other main attributes of the site: it is built in a jungle and a bunch of very uneducated macaques who beg for bananas and anything edible from it’s visitors; took possession of the area.

According to Balinese tradition, a temple is not just a building. It is surrounded by walls and then the forest, to allow the contact with the spiritual world. All sorts of events in these temples are destined to maintain harmony between humans, the nature and the universe.

What concerns the monkeys, they can be a good or bad spirit, in Balinese thinking: it seems to be depending on the situation. Monkeys sitting peacefully on temple walls may be worshipped and protected; while the ones stealing items from souvenir ships are certainly possessed by some evil spirit. One can just hope that these are different individuals to avoid further confusion.

In any case, the macaques have very sharp eyes, and can snatch the food out of the hands and bags of visitors, which requires to be relatively alert most of the time. Interesting fact, I have never seen long tailed macaques swimming in Singapore or anywhere else, while here one could observe several monkeys clearly enjoying jumping in a pond from overhanging trees and then swimming around.

The forest is also home to the macaque who adopted a kitten last year.

Gunung Batur Volcano

The Batur in the Northern part of Bali (some two car hours away from Ubud) is still an active volcano, although it’s activity is quite moderate nowadays. It has a caldera of about 11km x 14km; which is the result of a gigantic eruption in the past, when the mountain cone collapsed into the magma chamber. The last major eruptions date back to 1917 and 1926. On the photo, you can see recent lava flows as the black parts without any vegetation.

From a beach near Singaraja at the North coast.

Indonesia is sitting along a string of active vulcanoes that keep erupting from time to time. Just recently, the flights to Bali and Jakarta kept beeing suspended because the activity of the Merapi and Bromo volcanoes on Java. I have been reading a theory about the super-eruption of the Toba eruption in Sumatra, some 70,000 years ago, that almost wiped out humans from Earth, leaving a mere 10,000 or even less survivors behind. Our narrow gene pool is then supposedly descending from this little group.

Jalan Kajeng

The last day at Ubud, slurping the breakfast coffee, we finally dediced to explore Jalan Kajeng, as recommended by one of our friends. Departing from the town center, it was promised to have some nice nature walks.

There, finally we founded what we searched for. The road leading out of town became increasingly narrow, the souvenir shops ended and a dirt path led along the paddies to the North. Until even this path ended; leading into a remaining jungle strip squeezed in between the rice fields. Rice fields as far as the eye can see, and no "guide" around! Truly a departing gift of the good-willed monkey spirits of Bali.

The next early morning, back to Denpasar airport. The coffee is more expensive then in a Starbucks in Singapore, this must be due to the high maintenance fee that keeps Denpasar airport so safe and tidy. Farewell Bali and farewell holidays.


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