When Adam suggested Bali as our vacation destination back in February, I knew basically 0 things about the island. But, from the beginning of our research, every blog/website/person said to spend time in Ubud (where Eat, Pray, Love was filmed – though once you visit you can see that some creative liberties were taken with the film). And they were right; Ubud is magical.
The 25+ hours of travel to Bali + 12 hour time change kicked our asses when we landed on the afternoon of May 11, and in our planning we anticipated needing some time to adjust to everything, so we eased into our activities (highly recommended). Most days, if we had something formal planned, we either scheduled it in the morning or afternoon and kept the other part of the day open. We loved this approach – it felt like we were doing and seeing a lot, but also didn’t make the trip seem overwhelming and like we were packing too much in each day.
On our first full day in Ubud we walked into downtown Ubud for breakfast after getting a Starbucks (which I was almost too ashamed to admit until I remembered I was living my life/#noregrets), then took our time exploring the area. The Sacred Monkey Forest is also in the midst of the main hub of downtown, and I highly recommend visiting.
A few things to know about the Monkey Forest (or, really just monkeys in general) before we dive it: 1., Adam is terrified of monkeys, and 2., Adam is even more terrified of potentially contracting rabies from monkeys (?). Before our trip we had our travel vaccinations updated (probably unnecessary, but also not a bad idea), and at Adam’s appointment he really wanted the rabies vaccination. Until we found out it’s $1,500 a person. At which time we we figured we’d just chance it.
When you buy your ticket for the Monkey Forest (something like $2 USD), there are signs everywhere that basically warn you not to make eye contact with the monkeys. Which is fine until you start to ponder what eye contact even really means??! Can I look at a monkey without making eye contact? Should we have paid for the vaccination? Am I going to die in this forest from the rabies Adam knew we’d get? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
Anyway, you can buy food to feed the monkeys as soon as you walk in (bananas and shiz, something we obviously did not do), and for the most part the monkeys seemed to be pretty docile and used to people. But, when you’re walking around surrounded by literally hundreds of monkeys, it’s hard not to notice how human-like, and smart, they are, and how easy it would be for them to kill you. SO needless to say we both kept our distance and watched from afar like a bunch of creepers. And, we didn’t get rabies.
On day 2 we took a cooking class, which is something we try to do wherever we travel (we did this one + highly recommend it). Our class picked us up + returned us to our AirBnb and was hosted at a house just outside of downtown Ubud.
The class started with a shopping trip to a local market, which was an eye-opening experience. Food safety and the western ideas about what is and isn’t acceptable for consumption are basically non-existent on Bali. Our lead, Made, made it clear the market we were visiting was not where the food for the class came from, mainly because tourists would get ill from eating some of the food stored/prepared in the “local” way (fruits and vegetables are less of concern – it’s mainly the fish/meat/dairy).
After the market visit, we made our way to the house where the class was held. About 15 total people were in the class, and we prepared traditional Balinese dishes, from gado gado, to chicken stay and peanut sauce (my favorite), + a bunch of other things I am forgetting. But trust me, it was all delicious and it’s definitely an activity worth considering when you’re in Ubud.
OKAY again this has gotten long and we’re only two days into the 4.5 we spent in Ubud SO I guess I am going to have to break this up into two posts (#contentisking, amiright?). Come back in 2 weeks (lolz) to see if I keep myself honest. Maybe I’ll even surprise you with finishing the whole Bali series by then – YOU’LL NEVER KNOW IF YOU DON’T CHECK BACK IN.