It's a dreary, cold, wet day where I am. To cheer myself up, I'm going to write about one of my favourite tropical destinations, Bali. Specifically, I'm going to reminisce about my 2013 visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud and share some photos that I recently dredged up from the bowels of my Dropbox archive.
First, I have a confession to make: No monkeys will appear in this post. I give all wild animals a wide berth, all the wider when they've become used to receiving treats from humans. Experience tells me that once they've got used to receiving they soon develop the habit of taking. In fact, the Lonely Planet and other guidebooks all warn you to be careful with your valuables when visiting the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
Consequently, I took no pictures of monkeys. As it happened, I had no interactions with them at all because my arrival coincided with their feeding time. This suited me fine, since I was then left to myself to wander through the forest on the well-kept paths.
I arrived quite early, I think even before the place was officially open. Wikipedia tells me that the hours are 8:30 to 18:00, so it must have been about 8:20 or so when I got there. The guard at the gate sold me a ticket and told me I was just in time to help feed the monkeys. I smiled.
The monkeys were attacking piles of bananas being dumped in the middle of the path for them by sanctuary workers. I sidled past and headed downhill. The greenery was magnificent. I haven't kept any pictures of it, but it's truly lush. You can get idea of it from the background of this picture of a lotus throne shrine, which I'm told is left empty to await the descent of a god:
There are 3 temples in the sanctuary, which Wiki says have been there since the 14th century. They, like the sanctuary itself, are under the care of the Padangtegal village. As everywhere in Bali, the banjar, or village sub-districts, are organized around the management of the principal temples of each village. I was told that such was the case for the temples in the sanctuary, as well.
Almost the only photographs that I still have of the sanctuary are of the main temple, the Pura Dalem. This is the gate, split in the distinctive Balinese way:
There was no one around. The gate of the outer wall was locked, but I had already been in Bali long enough not to be surprised. Generally speaking, you're not allowed to enter temples unless you're wearing traditional Balinese prayer dress. I respect this rule, and I respect the Balinese for sticking to it. Although the island is clearly dependent economically on tourism, some aspects of the local culture are decidedly NOT for sale.
The morning light was definitely good, which, combined with the absence of people, made for some good architectural shots. Here's one of the temple's open-sided pavilions:
I think it might be the pavilion for the gamelan orchestra, but I'm not sure. Apparently some of these open-sided pavilions are set aside for the use of the gods when they come to observe temple festivities.
Here's a close-up shot of the corner of another pavilion:
Often the tower-like structure like the one below would be for the lotus throne, the literal and figurative high point of the temple. However, this one does not appear to contain a throne:
If anyone can identify this structure's function, please comment.
By the time I got this far, both people and monkeys were beginning to appear around the temple. I judged it time to head back to my hotel for my first swim of the day -- and my second breakfast. Like a hobbit, I find when traveling that one just isn't enough.
I hope you've enjoyed this reminiscence of my visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. If you have stories to share of this place, or Bali in general, please comment below, on the Lotus & Persimmon Facebook page, or in the Lotus & Persimmon gallery on Instagram.