Below is the album for our visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali. The temples and altars of this Forest are still very much in use by the local village.
The monkeys, although accustomed to and well fed by the tourists, remain wild in their habits. They will grab food right out of your hand (and we advise you to give it up quickly!). They will also grab any bag you´re holding, your cell phone and sometimes shiny objects, like earrings!
We rarely rave about a restaurant, and we rarely rave about a coffee shop, partly because we’re both pretty good cooks and baristas. Here’s one exception:
Locavore, a restaurant in Ubud, Indonesia, was started by three friends working in different restaurants who decided to create a niche for fine Indonesian cooking . Their concept is unique in Indonesia: Nouvelle cuisine made with local ingredients.
All the dinner seatings were booked for months in advance. We were lucky to be able to make a lunch reservation even though it was low season.
Since we didn’t want to eat too much, but wanted to taste everything, we ordered one prix fixe with beverage pairings and an extra entree. (We’ll forgive that the wines and liquors were not local. Grapes wouldn’t be good in this climate anyway.)
In addition to the five course lunch, the restaurant also served sourdough bread with original dips and a few other plates that were not listed. There was a wow factor in everything we were served including the drinks. That’s an enviable record for any chef.
This is the most original restaurant we’ve ever enjoyed anywhere. The combination of finely honed chef skills, local tradition and local foods creatively presented is completely successful in Locavore Restaurant. If you plan to travel to Ubud, make a dinner reservation well in advance! It’s on Jalan Dewa Sita. We loved this place.
Like we said before, there’s always a celebration somewhere in Bali and the Balinese are warm, open people who happily invite you to join them. So when we are accosted in the tourist areas to buy a $40 ticket to a “real Balinese show” we can politely refuse because an authentic celebration is not hard for us to find on this island.
A new hotel was being built next to the one we were staying in. I had walked through the property just to see what they were building and happened to meet the owner. The next day, they were having a special ceremony to bless the new hotel. (I guess that would be the Hindi version of a Jew putting a mezuzah on the door.) I looked in to see what was going on. The owner saw me and invited me to have a beer and join them.
It was nothing short of spectacular. There was a full band. A couple on a platform was lighting incense and ringing a bell at certain times. A group on another platform carried on some dialog with the actors on stage. On stage, were four actors and dancers that performed a very specific long running play. This all took place in front of an altar with many offerings on it, including the requisite roasted pig. Every celebration has a roasted pig.
Since I couldn’t understand the Balinese words, I made up my own interpretation of the play: It looked like the people on the second platform were the mortals requesting blessings from the gods. They summon the priest and priestess on the special high platform to ring the bell to show the gods what great offerings have been presented.
Then the gods had some dialogue with the mortals, did a little song and dance, and eventually decided the mortals are worthy. Finally, they called on the big Kahuna, who came out from the curtain donning the special gray mask with white eyebrows. After a little discussion, in song of course, about whether the correct paperwork was filled out and stamped, he finally sort of agreed. He inspected the pig, flowers and fruit at the alter to assess whether the bribe, er… offering was big enough. And finally, the moment everyone was waiting for, he pronounced his blessings on the hotel.
Not only did I not have to pay $40 to see this great show, but they also gave me a cold beer!