The hotel description said, “3 minute walk to the Monkey Forest.” We thought it would be a great chance to see wildlife in Bali while we stayed a few days prior to our cruise. Little did we know just how up-close and personal our experiences with monkeys would be.
We might have gotten a clue when our hostess, showing us the villa accommodations, pointed out the sling-shot provided to each room. These were for our convenience to chase any monkeys away from our villa. It soon became obvious that monkeys do not read signs to know where the monkey habitat begins and ends.
At one point, we were visiting a Hindu temple and saw a monkey walking around with a very expensive pair of sunglasses. This put us all on edge as we quickly removed our glasses and put them away. However, Rob later decided he wanted to see something and put on his glasses. Very quickly, a monkey jumped up on his shoulder and grabbed the glasses off of his face. He managed to grab them, however, leaving the monkey with just the rubber covering that protected Rob’s ear from the wire piece. The monkey sat there chewing on this rubber piece. Rob was glad he still had his glasses for the remainder of the trip.
One day we walked about 15 minutes around the fenced perimeter of the monkey forest to a grocery store. Seeing a rotisserie chicken for sale at the store, we decided to buy it and bring it back to our room. What were we thinking? A local, sitting on the sidewalk, looked at us and said, “That will not work.” He was absolutely correct. There was no way we were going to get that chicken past the monkeys to our room, so we bundled it up in a canvas backpack and hoped the monkeys couldn’t smell it. As we entered the monkey area, two monkeys were on a tree limb directly above us, watching us carefully. Somehow we got it past them and all the way to our room.
Prior to our 7-day sailing cruise, we decided to spend three
days in Bali itself. We are so glad we did. Not only did we see some amazing
sights, we also learned something about the strength of family and faith. It
was a lesson we’ll never forget.
While Indonesia as a whole is largely Muslim, the people of Bali are largely Hindu (83%). We arrived at Bali’s Denpasar airport late at night and saw no hint of the magic that awaited us. Our driver drove through non-descript streets for over an hour before arriving at a narrow, unlit alleyway in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. We exchanged some worried glances at each other, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. After all, we had not relied on any recommendations to choose our hotel . . only those on Hotels.com.
We needn’t have worried. No, we were not at a major hotel,
but we did manage to snag the coziest slice of paradise on Bali. The 11-room Bali
Bohemian turned out to be a destination unto itself. The friendly night hostess
greeted us with smiles, a cool mint drink, and no urgency to run our credit
card or even discuss money. “Let’s just worry about that tomorrow when you’re
rested,” she said. Who DOES that? We were very impressed.
She walked us around a beautifully lit pool into our villa,
an eclectic and authentic Bali experience. As she showed us around, one of the
most notable items in our room was a sling-shot. She explained that it was
because of the monkeys. If we should ever need the sling-shot, we could simply
point it at a monkey and pretend it was loaded. The monkey would scamper off. I
smiled, thinking this was a quaint “gimmick” to impress visiting tourists.
The next day, we learned how practical those sling-shots
were. The online listing for the villa mentioned a nearby “Monkey Forest” that
was within walking distance. In reality, the monkey forest was literally adjacent
to our villa and we also learned that monkeys do not care about signs or
fences. They were an amusing and sometimes exciting punctuation to our trip.
Our time in Bali was dreamy, to say the least. We thoroughly
enjoyed visiting various temples, waterfalls, woodcrafting shops, painting
shops, jewelry shops, coffee plantations, and much more. Everywhere we went in residential
areas, we noticed very ornate architecture and decorative elements. One day,
our driver/guide was driving in an area and said, “I live right over there.” We
were impressed with this driver and his gentle spirit. He then asked if we
would like to come see his home. We jumped at the chance.
Every home in Bali consists of a walled compound in which ornate
pavilions are carefully placed. The way these structures are laid out is
determined by culture and religious conviction. Each home has a pavilion for
the grandparents, a sleeping pavilion, a kitchen pavilion and some kind of
ceremonial hall. In addition, each home has its own temple. These properties are
not simple; they’re extravagant and well-maintained.
Multiple generations occupy the same property and the strength that comes from participating in daily religious rituals and having strong family support is obvious in Balinese society. Balinese people who are blessed to enjoy these strengths are largely protected from the difficulties we’ve seen in other Asian and western countries. We felt humbled and blessed to have witnessed this strength in action. The abundance felt by all family members seemed much higher than one would expect in a country with meager incomes.
The experience reminded us how faith and family can work together to bring greater abundance and prosperity.
We passed through the world’s most active volcano zone and were not disappointed. The ship parked about a mile away from an active, belching volcano. We saw several smoke eruptions before we set sail again. See the ship’s captain (below) checking out the progress of an eruption.