Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Always Read the Signs

Ahh...Bali. So I've been here almost a week now, and I have loved almost every minute. I ended up only staying at the first guesthouse for two nights. It was beautiful, but had no wi-fi, and how could I leave my adoring fans in the lurch?
The new guesthouse, for the same price has wi-fi AND hot water...not to mention some new friends. I've been spending most of my time with a 20 year old German guy named Flo in a pink t-shirt (had to throw that in there) and a thirty-something Englishman, Dave, plus a few other friends we've met along the way.
My first day out in Ubud, I found my way to Monkey Forest. It's quite literal in its title, a forest full of monkeys. They sell bananas at the entrance which I passed on, but because of the many tourists, you really don't need a banana to get a monkey's attention because they just assume you have one. One little guy just hopped in my lap and hung out for a bit, before chewing on my yellow bag which probably appeared to be one big banana. It has always been a dream of mine to hold a baby monkey, but let me tell you, when the first one tried to scale my leg, I screeched like a little girl and practically flung it across the forest!
A few days later, my new neighbors and I rented scooters and rode around the island stopping at two different beaches. I rode on the back with Pink Shirt, I mean Flo. When I told my mom of my plans, she asked why I didn't drive my own. If you saw how people drive here, you wouldn't do it either! Most roads have two lanes, but it doesn't seem to matter, and I'm not sure there are speed limits because I haven't seen a sign for one yet.
Over the course of the day, we probably got lost 7 or 8 times, but the people here are so nice ( and maybe a little bit nosey), they pull up right beside you, ask you where you are going, and then point you in the right direction before you can even ask.
We kept the scooters a second day, and headed in search of more beaches, with a stop at the Floating Temple. A bit disappointing, it was not actually floating, simply surrounded by a moat. The sign outside said it was strictly prohibited for menstruating women to enter, but figuring, how will they know? I entered anyway. Apparently, the gods of Bali were not amused, as karma took it's toll on the way home. What should have been a 3 hour drive down the mountain turned into 5 hours in the freezing cold rain on scooters! But the waterfalls we saw that day made it almost worth it.
Though I truly love my traveling buddies, I would like to get to know more of the locals. But Ubud is definitely a tourist town (almost a Balinese San Francisco, very artsy), and it's hard to make friends with people who need your money much more than they need an American companion. Also for some reason, they speak very quietly in conversations so not only do you have to listen closely to get past their accent, you have to listen extra closely just to hear them. But like I said, they are very nice so listening closely is quite worth the effort.
I have not starved yet, thankfully. Western food is abundant. Spaghetti seems to be everywhere, though always spelled differently, as well as tacos, burgers, and even French fries. I know, I know, "Try the Balinese food" the pink shirted German boy keeps saying. But I'm not a foodie, and perfectly happy sticking with what I know whenever I can find it. I want to see temples, and beaches, and monkeys, but I never said I wanted to eat fish soup or sea grass.
Love to all from Bali, I promise to write more soon!

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