The continuing BALI POST; Day in Ubud. . .
Bali is a lot of different things for a lot of different people. If you're looking for a luxury spa or a beachfront property, there are many inexpensive resorts in Nasi Dua or Seminyak that cater to all tastes and budgets. The island's coasts feature beaches suitable for doing nothing or a whole lot of diving and surfing. If you want nightclubs and chaos, choose Kuta or Sanur.
But if you're looking to feast your mind and your soul, Ubud is where you should head. Our day in Ubud began with a visit to the Batuan Hindu Temple. Throughout Bali, there are 10,000 or so Hindu temples, emblematic of the island's hold on its traditions in an otherwise Muslim-majority country. This is a lesser known but perhaps the most beautiful village temple of Bali, dating back to 1022 AD. Notable decorations include God Vishnu astride a bull, great elephants on the central stairway and Shiva standing with skulls. Entry is free but you can make a donation at the donation box. This is where the parking is and where the village ladies will lend you a sarong to wrap around your body.
After a short 'been here' moment at the temple, we proceed to Ubud's main attraction --the Sacred Monkey forest sanctuary. This is a must-do in Ubud; monkeys are everywhere (680 at the last count, according to the information board) but they are well-behaved and safe even for little kids. For those more intrepid, you can buy bananas at the entrance and it's an amazing experience to see the monkeys so close, especially the tiny babies who will climb on your shoulder to eat the banana from your hand. The sanctuary itself is beautiful; it has the feel and experience of a rainforest, with a gorge running through the middle of the park grounds. If the name 'Bali' conjures up serenity for you, you can feel it here surrounded by lush greenery; by more than 100 year-old trees; and, the gurgling sound of the water amidst Hindu sculptures and carvings.
Prior visitors to Ubud had told us about 'poo-poo' coffee. I was intrigued by this quirky novelty and the Luwak coffee plantation was on the way. . . a brief stop was warranted! Turns out that 'Kopi Luwak' or 'crap coffee's the world's most expensive coffee because it is produced from coffee beans digested and defecated by a certain Indonesian cat-like animal called the Luwak or civet. It can't digest the stones--or, coffee beans--of the cherry, so craps them out along with the rest of its droppings. Farm workers collect the beans; cleaned and washed, they have acquired a unique and highly prized taste from their passage through the Luwak's digestive tract.
"Ewwwwwww," exclaims my 18 year-old daughter and decides to give the free tasting a pass. I gingerly take a sip but the strong taste is off-putting. The Indonesian shop is trying to peddle the product at exorbitant prices, claiming it will prevent cancer and cure myriad medical conditions. "Nobody can prevent cancer," scoffs my 22 year-old. That indeed is a patent lie; being wild, hard to collect, variable in age and quality, and very rare, Kopi Luwak is not a commercially viable crop, but just an interesting coffee experience! I'd say, go for the adventure; don't buy the coffee in the end.
I read somewhere that the "pray' portion of the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love" was shot in Ubud. After spending a day there, I can well believe that. Next time around, I'd spend my days at a yoga retreat in Ubud. . .spirituality will doubtless follow!