Day Two: New Year's Eve in Ubud
Ubud Travel Blog› entry 2 of 11 › view all entries
December 31st, 2009 – by: knowledgebee
Within a 100 meters of forest we started to noticed monkeys or long-tailed macaques climbing on small Balinese offering towers and stealing what ever foods the locals had offered their gods that morning. They were a mischievous bunch that tend to pick pocket tourist in search of edible finds. It was interesting how they stop in the middle road and refused to move even with traffic whizzing past them. We also found dogs on our walks who were simply indifferent to traffic or any moving object headed in their direction. Upon entering the Monkey Forest park we were pleasantly found that there was no entrance fee despite noticing a ticket booth to the side. Most of the temples were closed and the number of visitors were surprisingly low considering it was the high season.
After the forest we decided to cruise up the Monkey Forest road and head towards central Ubud. Along the way we stopped at a few shops in search of a bathing suit for me, the sole item I managed to forget on this trip. We stopped at Rip Curl, Roxy and Quicksilver and found no success. The shop girls at Quicksilver were kind enough to point out a local place for bathing suits and I managed to find one there a few stores down from their shop. I paid $40 for the suit which is astronomical in Bali for a no name brand but I was desperate and we were tired due to all the heat and pollution. Like many Asian cities Ubud is plagued by a mop of motorcycles and scooters that add a lot of noise and pollution to the air as emissions controls are rather lax compared to the US and the EU.
When the bikini ordeal was over we were finally free to eat. We had no idea where to go since Monkey Forest road is packed with so many options and we forgot our trusted lonely planet at the resort. So we walk until our stomachs could take no more and reached the Ubud Palace where we decided it was no longer time to be picky and to succumb to the wailing of our tummies. Luckily there were two restaurants, one of which was Warung Ibu Oka, the famous suckling pig place declared as the best suckling pig in the world by Anthony Bourdain, a jerk with some taste in food. Although we saw the lines and knew the hype was probably true I wasn't ready to eat pork yet after being a vegetarian for some time so we passed. I promised Zaid we would return and try it after I've acclimated to eating meat for a bit.
We headed next door instead to Bambu Bali which I found a bit dusty and not very well maintained despite being a supposedly good restaurant that offers cooking classes. We shared a nice Indonesia dish but nothing to write home about. After our meal we haggled for a decent taxi fare and ended up enduring the hot equatorial sun for a short walk further from the center to pay $2 instead of $2.50 which sounds ridiculous but we hate getting ripped off. Although it was high season and such a thing was inevitable we did our best to bargain, bargain, bargain. When that didn't work we did the famous walk away which usually did the trick.
The remainder of the afternoon was uneventful as we did our best to stay cool and dry inside our hotel room. Like most rainy season days it began to pour around 3PM and did not stop until around 7PM. We then went to see the compulsory show that was included in our stay for the New Year's Eve evening. It was special a Kecak dance performed on full moons at our resort, the Arma. We enjoyed the show but found it very wet since we seated in a grassy courtyard filled with mosquitos. I only noticed later that one could request for a coil near their seats which I failed to do to my dismay the next morning when I found numerous bits on my ankles and feet.
After the show there was a dinner at the Arma cafe which was also part of the compulsory New Year's Eve stay. The menu was European and as a vegetarian I was screwed. Imagine tempeh and tofu cooked in a faux French style. I wanted to throw the stuff it was so wrong. On top of that we paid $60 each for the show and dinner. For that price one can go to the fanciest, highly rated restaurant, Mozaic, instead of slumming it at the Arma cafe whose staff was almost entirely inept at cooking European food. On top of that, bubbly was not included. That meal and the way the hotel orchestrated it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. I know it was high season but we still are your guests so please do not try to shake us like piggy banks while feeding us gruel.
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