I made it back to Bali! After three full days of sightseeing Yogyakarta it was time to head back to the lush island of Bali for some relaxation. When I booked my hotel from Yogyakarta, I didn’t realize I had booked it for the remainder (18 days) of my stay in Indonesia and it can’t be canceled or changed. So I’m ‘forced’ to relax in the same city for the rest of my trip….which is probably a good thing. So here I am in Ubud (some of you may recognize it as the locale of the last leg of the Eat Pray Love saga). It’s a perfect mix of touristy and local culture: the locals live and work as they would everywhere in Bali and speak Balinese and Indonesian, but the restaurants and hotels are amazing.

I lucked out and found a ‘resort and spa’ for $42/night, and since Jackie’s in Ubud and couldn’t find a similarly nice spot, the hotel was willing to switch up my room for one with two beds, so we will share accommodation and then what I save on the room I can spend on day trips and clothesJ Our hotel:

Although I arrived in Ubud on the 23rd, the first day was spent napping with a quick walk around at dusk and for dinner. Yesterday was similarly chill: walking around town, ‘window’ shopping the many market stalls and reading and relaxing at the pool. The other great thing about this being a touristy town is that in addition to Balinese and Indonesian food there is plenty of vegan/raw/vegetarian restaurants and juice spots, so it’s easy to stay healthy. A few shots of the market and around town below. There is beauty around every corner, temples everywhere and a hindu or Buddhist carving or statue on most properties – often overgrown with a thin later of green moss.

This morning I woke up early and after an hour of meditation walked around the ‘rice walk’ path near town. The street that lead out of town was paved with personalized cement tiles. So cool. There wasn’t much activity in the rice fields (maybe because it’s Sunday?) but I did come across one field being harvested. It was being worked by a group of middle aged women (by 8am it was already sweltering) with a man sitting in the shade nearby. I wandered through the field towards him, said hello and asked (in charades) if I could take a picture of the women working. He said yes. I then asked in broken English (as you do when in a foreign land) ‘You…manager?’. Yes, he replied. Ugh. Figures. In any case, he was friendly and motioned me to go closer to take a better picture. I thanked him in Indonesian and got a great shot.

Later I met up with some German friends that I had met at the fabulous guesthouse in Yogyakarta. We headed to the famous Monkey Sanctuary in the middle of town. It’s like a monkey zoo with no cages. It’s a pristine dense forest with walking paths for visitors to roam and see (but not touch) the monkeys. At first we were hesitant to even go near some of the monkeys that were perched on railings. We were warned to not pet them, look them directly in the eye (they will attack) or show your teeth (an open tooth grin is a sign of aggression). We were also warned to keep any and all belongings locked in your bag – and definitely not in your pockets. People have been known to be pick-pocketed of money, phones, keys etc. Numerous times we saw little (or big) monkeys snatch pieces of paper from people’s hands or water bottles from backpacks.

Oh, and it was mating season, so the older males were very aggressive and fighting each other….best to keep your distance unless the little ones ventured close. (we even saw a couple pairs mating).

Toward the end of our walk, one particularly friendly monkey started climbing all over us. You see, visitors can buy bunches of bananas and feed the monkeys little by little. But you have to keep the bananas in your bag. So with two of us having backpacks or (me) a camera bag, we were presumed to have treats. And sure enough, despite me taking everything (or so I thought) out of my outside pockets (yes, Bambang, even my phone!) and putting it into the main zippered pouch, that little devil still managed to find a hair elastic, a small piece of paper and hair clip. So much fun!

My favourite part of the day…:)

After lunch with the Germans we parted ways (hopefully to meet up again on the 27th) and my afternoon has been spent having a long luxurious massage at a nearby spa and uploading photos to this blog. Now off to dinner shortly with Jackie for a healthy Christmas meal.

Today was absolutely the best way to spend Christmas in Bali: unique experiences with great people – I will remember this Christmas fondly!

Merry Christmas!