Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day 10, Central Java to Bali: "Hey, you really want my shorts!?"

The iPhone alarm (Blackhawks goal horn with Chelsea Dagger) sounded at the unreasonable hour of 5 am. Well, there was that, and then this text message from Allie:

Never a dull moment when we go on vacation!

Originally when we booked our flight from Yogyakarta to Bali, the departure time was around 10 am. But schedule changes are a fact of flying these days, and our flight moved up to 8:30. Accordingly, we were up, packed, and checked out by 6 am and finished with breakfast and in a taxi shortly after. The Yogyakarta airport experience wasn't quite as chaotic this time, and there was free wi-fi from which we could follow the beginnings of the Blackhawks game. Boarding time came, and we exited a door onto the tarmac. From there, we probably could have walked onto any number of planes that were boarding about the same time.

Boarding at the Yogyakarta airport--pick your plane
When the door closed on the plane, the score was tied 1-1. We arrived in Bali to a much newer and nicer and larger airport (also with free wi-fi, although sadly it informed us that the hockey game had just ended with a loss). Our three bags were just about the first ones on to the belt, and we were out the door and in a van headed to Ubud within minutes.

The drive took about 90 minutes--at the beginning very urban and slow, but eventually, we saw much more green and eventually some rice fields. After a refreshing welcome drink in the office, we were off to see the Cendrawasih Suite of Alam Jiwa--the last stop on on our trip, but a much anticipated one.

The two-story suite was everything it was advertised to be, with an amazing amount of space for three people. Within the first 30 minutes, I lost my phone three times because there were just too many places to set it down. Among other things, it features an open-air shower upstairs, a kitchen in the basement, and views of the rice fields and distant volcanoes.

Our front door
Welcome to Alam Jiwa 
Open-air shower on the second floor
View over the rice fields
First-floor bedroom
The rest of our day consisted of snacks at a vegetarian restaurant and some wandering around to get our bearings in central Ubud. The route from our villa to town skirts the Monkey Forest (a paid attraction), although one certainly doesn't need to pay to get most of the full, interactive experience (more on that shortly).

We didn't do this, we just took a photo of it

Outside the Monkey Forest
There are many, many shops around Ubud. I'm not much of a vacation shopper, and even I was looking forward to some shopping time at some point during our stay. There was one immediate need, though: I'd made it all the way to Bali (where we had planned some more recreational activities) and had not packed any shorts. We popped into one the Polo/Ralph Lauren stores, of which there are many in the central Ubud area, and am now the proud owner of a pair of mustard-colored shorts.

This mundane detail is only notable because...

At one point on the walk back along the side of the Monkey Forest, we stepped off to one side of the path to let some motorbikes by. All of a sudden, something was pulling on my Polo bag from behind me. I turned to see a monkey grabbing it with both hands. The first words out of my mouth were, "Hey, you really want my shorts?" (hence, the title of today's report). It took a bit of effort, but I managed to wrestle the bag back.

One of the things we immediately noticed was that, while it is still warm, the air is noticeably less oppressive than in Java or Singapore, and there are nice breezes. A walk that would have left us drenched in sweat elsewhere was quite comfortable here.

After a bit of a break to enjoy our villa, we went back into town for dinner at Cafe Wayan, which is owned by our hotel. It has what seems like endless gardens in back with tables tucked into smaller, secluded areas. It kind of reminded us of being at Dyen Sabai in Luang Prabang, but more upscale with better food. We enjoyed a few sampler plates with various Balinese specialties and called it an evening.

Balinese goodies for dinner

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