Forgive me, it has been a while since my last post. I have a lot of images and information to share, but let me first update you on where we are and where we are heading next. We are in our final days here in Sanur, Bali. This has been a great stop and the location was a good launching point for day trips to other parts of the island. Unfortunately, MJ has been battling an eye infection since arriving and has been unable to enjoy all this wonderful place has to offer. We have spent a lot of time, energy, and funds trying to clear up the infection and allow her eye to heal to a point that she can function regularly. In addition, since having PRK surgery in August, her eyes have been slow to heal and are very light-sensitive...this obviously makes being in SE Asia very difficult as it is very bright here. After many trips to a reputable hospital in Bali and several longer trips to the National Eye Center in Singapore, she is showing vast improvement!
Here are the final images i shot in and around Sanur. I had my driver Agung take me to Ubud which is in the highlands of Bali. Ubud is known for its talented artist community, stunning rice fields, and beautiful temples. It was also unfortunately featured in the film "Eat, Pray, Love" and has been quick to jump on board and ride the fame game. You can't blame them though as it has attracted a lot of tourists and their money. The town is still quirky and fun, though there is a staggering amount of references to the now 5 year old film. Some high end boutiques and guest houses have popped up but very modest places to stay abound. We will spend our final 5 days in Ubud when we leave Sanur on Friday and it will cost us the kingly sum of $140...not per night but for all five nights! After walking the streets of Ubud I wandered over to the Monkey Forest which is a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex. I had been avoiding coming here as it is a very popular tourist attraction and I detest such things. Since I was on my own and not part of a planned group excursion I gave myself permission to check it out. The forest is not very large but there are 115 different species of trees across a very dense forested area with a deep river ravine splitting it in two. There are about 700 Balinese Long Tailed Monkeys in total. They are very territorial and have separated into 5 groups that each control a part of the forest. It was a little unnerving at first to be so close to these creatures without any sort of enclosure but I soon forgot about that and thoroughly enjoyed a good two hours zig zagging throughout the place.
I also visited the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. These were much smaller than the fields of Jatiluwih Terraces I visited a couple weeks ago but still stunning. It is hard to explain or even capture in camera how green these terraces are. Being fully functional and producing rice for the surrounding area I was able to see and talk to a few locals who work the fields. One older man, who spoke very little english, saw my camera and gestured me to follow him. He was finishing his day of work and began "showering"...he was giving me a free show.! Luckily he removed only his hat!
After my shower show, I headed to the famous Elephant Cave, or Goa Gajah which was built in the 11th century as a sanctuary and bathing site. It is one of a few UNESCO World Heritage sites around Bali. I met yet another older man who began telling me the background story of the site in very broken english, hand gestures, and drawings he scraped into the soft ground with a stick. He was explaining how a portion of the temple had fallen down in the early 20th century, and went so far as to climb down the slippery rocks in his bare feet as I followed, barley keeping up. After his story, he of course wanted a donation (a very common occurrence around the tourist sites). He was so humble about it and was such a nice guy I obliged. I went on to ask him for a portrait and he happily accepted.
I enjoyed this portion of our trip but am relieved that MJ's eyes are getting healthy enough to begin enjoying this journey together. Our next stop after a short stay in Ubud is Thailand. My next post will detail our recent trip to Singapore which included an unexpected side trip to Thailand.