As I stated before religion is a part of the Balinese daily life. The Balinese Hinduism mixes aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and animism, which is the belief that souls and spirits can be found in all things. They incorporate this religion throughout their daily lives, praying and setting out offerings multiple times a day - striving to maintain the balance between good and evil in order to prevent chaos. There are ceremonies throughout the island temples almost every day of the year it seems. One of our drivers explained that there are lucky days and bad days on their calendar. Weddings and ceremonies are held on lucky days, and if someone passes away, they must wait to have the funeral procession on a good day and not a bad/unlucky day.
Walking around Bali, you will spot canang (small, square, daily offerings) made up of coconut leaves everywhere (sidewalks, in front of houses/businesses, etc). These are placed in strategic spots around the home and family temple, or business to honor both the higher and lower spirits of the household in order to balance the negativity with the positivty and ensure family harmony. We even woke up to one every day outside of our villa. The family temples located at the entrance of the buildings are believed to house spirits. This is why you normally spot them with a sarong wrapped around them and possibly an umbrella over them - to protect them and the offerings from the rain. The sarongs are usually black and white plaid or yellow. The black and white color symbolizes the dualism of life such as good/evil, bright/darkness, or even men/women and yellow is for secrecy and purity.
Each part of the offering has a meaning. For example, the flowers represent the heart/sincerity/love and each color flower honors a different god. Fire/incense are for the spirits, fruit/food is for good luck with whatever you're doing, and a small bank note completes the offering representing a selfless essence.
Walking around Bali, you are constantly reminded of their religion, their faith, their gods, and their devotion. It's a constant reminder to be thankful and grateful for what you have. It's one of the things that I enjoyed most about Bali and seeing these daily, colorful reminders would bring a smile to my face.
After our cooking class earlier that day, we decided to spend the afternoon at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, only a short .5 km walk from our hotel. Before we even reached the entrance, we could spot several monkeys walking around the streets, trees, and walls surrounding the area. I was super excited - I love monkeys! We had been warned though that these monkeys could be aggressive - stealing things from us (sunglasses, etc) or even biting/attacking. This forest has around 700 monkeys (macaque) - divided into 6 groups of 100 - 120 monkeys each, and 186 species of trees in 12.5 hectares of forest.
Once we walked in, we were able to purchase a bunch of bananas to feed the monkeys with for around $1. These monkeys would grab the bananas quickly - making it difficult to try and pose for pictures with them - but I wasn't about to tempt fate or their patience. Nate and I had no issues feeding these little guys but saw people making dumb choices about trying to hold the bananas hostage until the monkeys posed with them for pictures - which made these little guys not so friendly. #justgivethemonkeyswhattheywant
Walking around this lucious green forest had a Indiana Jones type feel to it with all the trees, vines, old temples, and monkeys running around :)
After the monkey forest, we stopped at the Tropical View Cafe (right next to the forest) for a nice afternoon drink.
For my daily massage, I got a nice hour foot massage at Made and during the same time got to witness the family preparing their offerings for the full moon ceremony that night. The purnama (full moon) is a time when the moon is at its most powerful, and its influence is most potent and the Balinese celebrate each month (some months more important than the next). The lady who was giving me a foot massage, her husband was learning Japanese so he could become a tour guide and driver for the tourists that visit the island. During my massage we were both able to practice the Japanese language which was fun :)
For dinner we wanted to try the famous crispy duck of Ubud. Not long ago, Ubud became known for Bebek Goreng (crispy fried duck), a simple deep-fried duck, crispy on the outside with juicy and moist thick meat inside. It was pretty damn tasty and easy to see why it's so popular #yum!
On our last full day in Bali, we hired a driver through our hotel to visit a few more temples around the island. I was most excited about our first stop, Sangeh Monkey Forest. Here, hundreds of grey long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) live in both the forest and the 17th century Pura Bukit Sari (temple). This is a 13 hectare nature reserve with many monkey kingdoms throughout. The grey macaques that inhabit the nutmeg forest each have a ring leader – and for the whole, there is one highest ruler or ‘king’, who dwells in the largest area where a sanctified temple, Pura Bukit Sari, is also found.
If you know me and monkeys... I was STOKED! Any time I can see or even better, touch this little guys, count me IN. They have locals that are walking around throughout the complex that have papaya leaves on them. They give them to you to feed the monkeys while they take pictures on your camera and theirs (which they later try to sell you but it's worth it to have your own personal photographer and monkey wrangler). You constantly make sure the monkeys have their papaya leaves/food because as soon as their done their patience is thin and they will possibly bite/scratch/attack you. This made me a little nervous but my love and fascination for monkeys over powered it, and luckily our little tour guide kept all the monkeys around us happy. As long as you had leaves/food, the monkeys would happily jump up on you and chill for photos. #yesplease #canimovehereandliveamongthem
And if you're wondering, the answer is yes. Yes, we did buy a picture souvenir from our guide for $4. A small price to pay for your own personal photographer and monkey handler. #worthit
On our way out of the temple we saw a procession ceremony preparing for the full moon ceremony where gifts and offerings are carried into the temple and blessed with holy water by the Pemangku (priest). The pilgrims pray, ask for the blessings, and at the end of the ceremony, pick them up and bring them home to share with their family. People arrive at the temple in processions filled with music. I was happy we got to witness this special moment while we were here.
Even though I was most excited for our first stop with monkeys, we had a nice distinct smell now of monkey poop and pee..... oh well - worth it!
Our next stop was Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, a major Shivaite and water temple founded in the 1633. It is dedicated to the Balinese water, lake, and river goddess Dewi Danu due to the importance of Lake Bratan where it sits next to. Many farmers come for pilgramages and ceremonies here to ensure there is a water supply for their farms. This temple was packed with tourists but is one of those iconic pictures of Bali that we wanted to see.
During our tour, I told our driver that I wanted to try some local Babi Guling. Babi Guling is a suckling pig filled with spices and roasted, and a dish many Balinese enjoy now daily. Well he definitely found a little roadside stop where I got a plate of it. The fried/roasted skin still had pig hairs in it (see pic below). And the meat displayed in the case had flies all around it.... needless to say the place was a little questionable but.... yolo. I didn't want to be rude so I ate the plate of roasted pig, soup, and rice (and yes even the hairy skin) - and it wasn't bad at all! And best of all, I survived and spoiler alert - didn't get sick later on (although Nate and I were a little worried this may be the meal to do it to us). We got the whole plate of pig, soup, rice, bag of pork rinds, coke, and red bull for only around $1-$2 #loveeatinginasia
Our final stop was at Pura Taman Ayun which is a huge royal water temple built in 1634. It is surrounded by a wide moat with the water filled with lotus blossoms. It was the main temple of Mengwi kingdowm (which survived until 1891) until it was conquered by neighboring kingdoms of Tabanan and Badung. There is one big courtyard area surrounding a smaller, inner courtyard which has many meru (multi-tiered shrines). It wasn't as touristy as some of the other temples and a peaceful spot to walk around and take in the sites.
We had our driver drop us off in the middle of town so we could finish some shopping on our last day. We picked up a few things such as a colorful duffel bag, dress, and of course some penis bottle openers painted with beautiful flowers and butterflies so we could send them home to some unsuspecting victims. (these souvenirs were everywhere btw) When my parent's lovely gift arrived, my mom said it was the prettiest penis she's ever seen (I think I'd have to agree!) #sorrydad
After shopping, we got our last massage of the trip. Nate had a nice hour body massage while I opted for a nice relaxing hair wash with head, neck, and shoulder massage. Great way to end our trip here.
After our amazing trip to Bali (and Taipei!) celebrating my 30th, our 3 year anniversary, and me graduating with my MBA - it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful island - hopefully we can come back and visit some day!
Until next time folks - our hike up Mt. Fuji :)
Follow in our Footsteps:
Sacred Monkey Forest
Hours: 8:30am - 6pm
Price: adult/child 40,000/30,000Rp
Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Tropical View Cafe
Hours: 8am - 10pm
Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
+62 361 974040
Made (massage spot - cheap prices and decent massage)
Hours: 10am - 8pm
+62 085 238 470 806
Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Ubud, 80571 Bali, Indonesia
Sangeh Monkey Forest
Hours: 7:30am - 6pm
Sangeh village, Abiansemal, Badung regency, about 20 km north of Denpasar
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
Price: adult/child 30,000/15,000Rp, parking 5000Rp
Jl. Bedugul - Singaraja, Candikuning, Baturiti, Candikuning, Baturiti,
Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82191, Indonesia
Pura Taman Ayun
Price: adult/child 20,000/10,00Rp
Jalan Ayodya, Mengwi, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!