Saturday, June 20, 2009

Monkey with Ice Cream Cone

This guy was sitting at the entrance to the Monkey Forest in Ubud and was enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone. The shot below was taken just moments before he was given the cone.

Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) Near Ubud, Bali

These monkeys are carved into the mossy stone at Goa Gajah -- about two kilometers outside of the cultural mecca, Ubud. I remember walking those two kilometers some 13 years ago -- seeing lots of rice farmers tending their crops with water buffalo. Today, that stretch of roadway is lined with shops and houses.

Below is the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. He is inside the Elephant Cave -- the cave, itself, is believed to date to the 11th century.

Ancient Monuments

There are about half a kilometer of steps to climb down and then back up, but this trip is worth it. Gunung Kawi near the town of Tampaksiring is one of Bali's oldest and largest ancient monuments. The shrines, carved into the side of a hill of solid rock are about seven meters high. They are believed to have been carved in the 11th century, according to Lonely Planet.

Along the way down, elderly women sell masks, t-shirts and other souvenirs -- the biggest seller is cold water.

Tampaksiring, Bali

These holy springs at the Tirta Empul Temple in the small town of Tampaksiring are believed to have magical powers. According to Lonely Planet, the springs were discovered in 962 A.D. The cool waters were incredibly refreshing on this particularly warm day in June.

Back to Bali

It had been 13 years since I last visited Bali. A lot of has changed since then. In Ubud, a lot of the rice fields are now new houses. Sprawl has come to Ubud -- lots and lots of trendy shops. Ubud still has a small town feel to it -- there's plenty to see and do. One of my favorite things is to catch one or two productions from the Mahabarata. This performance was at the Ubud Royal Palace. It's a story from the Ramayana.It features beautiful princesses, a monkey god, two brothers who get turned into deer and a whole cast of colorful characters.