Thursday, 30-10-2014. Day 71.
Something Old, Something Big, Something New
Today was our first foray into the town of Ubud. Armed with a short list of stores and places we wanted to visit, we had our driver drop us off at the Monkey Forest. We weren't going to explore it that day, but after looking at a map, we figured that was as good a jumping off point as any for exploring Ubud Village. We walked north on Jalaya Wenara Wana (Monkey Forest Road), where we made an almost immediate and startling discovery.
Penises are big in Bali
Other blogs have covered this at length, but you can find carved wooden penises of various lengths and girths sold as bottle openers, keychains, and incense holders all over Ubud, but most commonly among the vendors along the southern end of Monkey Forest Road—and even in the (sacred) Monkey Forest itself.
I'm not sure if these are meant to be fertility symbols (maybe they were initially) or gag gifts for drunken tourists to buy (probably) or something ... else (highly unlikely), but I do know that they pop up all over the place. We were relatively non-plussed, though. After seeing a wall of plaster vaginas, a spinner rack full of penises is pretty blasé.
We also learned quickly that tourists walking down the street are frequently subject to shouts of "Taxi!" from groups of men sitting on street-side steps and "Massage, yes?" from women brandishing stacks of brochures.
These shouts come from both sides of the street so often that one quickly becomes inured to them. The taxi hawkers were particularly relentless. Usually after we replied with a polite "No, thank you," they'd counter with, "Tomorrow?" I'm not one to criticize a fella for trying to make a few rupiah (even if you carve wooden penises for a living), but by the end of the day, the calls of "Taxi" started falling on deaf ears. You just can't respond to them all. That said, if you really need a taxi in Ubud, there's no problem finding one.
Ubud Village is for Shopping
The day was pretty much all about shopping. Jackie, in particular, is a champion shopper, and there were many, many shops to peruse because Ubud Village is jammed with all manner of unusual, unique, and familiar stores. We ended the day with two new sarongs, a pair of pants, a pair of swimming goggles, and a couple of gifts.
There are a lot of western brands represented in Ubud, most frequently Polo. But we also saw Billabong, Ripcurl, and Dairy Queen—which was the most surprising for some reason.
Pondok Pekak Library
We took a break from the commercial side of things to visit the Pondok Pekak Library and Learning Center, Ubud's only library that has a collection of 30,000 books (including a large selection of children's books) in more than ten languages.
Pondok Pekak means "grandfather's little resting house in the rice field," and it's not in a rice field anymore; instead it's on the east side of the village's football field.
The library was founded by an American expatriate named Laurie Billington in 1995. Billington loved books and reading and wanted to bring that love of reading to Ubud. But these days the library is much more than just a place to borrow books; it also serves as an educational center where people can take Indonesian language courses, silver jewelry making classes (more on that in an upcoming post), "Art of Bali" lessons, Indonesian Gamelan lessons, and much more.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Ubud further, finding some key restaurants we wanted to try (and having some juices and a coffee at Caramel), checking out some of the notable landmarks like the Ubud Palace, and locating a few other services we wanted to experience, like Paradiso Ubud.
By the time we called our driver to pick us up, the sun was going down—but the town was still hopping. Compared to where we were staying in West Perth, which shut down about 4:00 p.m., Ubud is busy well into the night. Many of the shops are open up until 11:00 p.m, midnight, or even 24 hours.
We, however, ended our day with a visit to the grocery store. We planned to keep things low key the next few days, so we'd need some vittles for the villa.
- Interesting chip flavors discovered: 2
- Stores visited before finding swimming goggles: 4
- Kilometers walked: 3 (approximately)