I'm back to being blissed out and in love with Bali again. Although things did not get off to such an auspicious start this morning. Or so I thought.
Having decided to sleep in, I was brutally jerked awake at 8 in the morning by a gong, various cymbals and men chanting. Have you ever been woken by a gong? No, I hadn't either, and I can assure you I have no intention of repeating the experience.
Stumbling down the stairs into the courtyard of the hotel, I was met by a ten-piece gamelan (Balinese orchestra), a priest with a bell, a tower of offerings and incense everywhere. Turns out it was a purification ceremony for the construction site that was causing me such grief yesterday. I was quickly offered a seat, an apology for the noise, tea and some Balinese ceremonial cake. And it was all done with such genuine smiles and generosity I was completely charmed by the whole thing and instantly forgot to be angry.
So off to the Monkey Forest I went, bright and early and with a spring in my step. I'll admit, I was a bit scared of the monkeys (especially when one of them tried to grab my camera out of my pocket) but the forest was so beautiful, filled with old temples and crazy statues and, well... monkeys. Mostly it's the mad tourists you need the worry about, the ones who try to provoke the animals, but since I had so luckily gotten an early start to the day there weren't too many of them about.
The rest of the morning was spent exploring the center of Ubud, with its insane drivers and quiet back streets and little cafes that make you want to stay an extra month just so you can try them all. It is so difficult to describe this town in a way, that will do it justice. It is so difficult to simply wrap your head around it in the first place. A moment ago, I was sidestepping a giant pile of dirt and dodging on-coming traffic in the process; now, I am having lunch in a quiet garden with ponds and wild flowers everywhere, in bare feet and sitting on a cushion. And the two spots are probably 20 meters from each other. Yesterday I drove five minutes out of town to my cooking class, into Wayan and Puspa's outdoor family kitchen in the middle of the rice paddies. This morning, I had an iced latte at a cafe that wouldn't have looked out of place in New York (except it would cost much more than $2 and the two people behind me would not have been comparing national squatting laws.)
I have to see how the yoga classes turn out next week but I would certainly not rule out coming back for a month-long yoga retreat some day (armed with plenty of tummy pills).