More Than Monkeys

The official name for the Sacred Monkey Forest is Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana, and is situated only minutes from the heart of Ubud.

About 350 Balinese Macaques live in the forest.  There are 4 groups of monkeys each occupying different territories in the park.

While the monkeys are the main attraction, and will provide heaps of entertainment and photo opportunities, there is much more to see.

There are 3 temples in the forest, dating back to about the 14th century.  The largest is the Pura Dalem Agung, located on the highest point of the forest.  A path through the trunk of a huge tree and across a small creek leads to the Holy Bathing Temple.  The third temple, the Pura Prajapati, is a cremation temple and located next to one of the two graveyards in the monkey forest.

The forest itself is quite stunning with a thick canopy shading the ground.  There are interesting paths winding throughout, stone bridges crossing picturesque streams, and many interesting stone carvings.  It is really a great place to just relax and take in the magnificent sights.

Just beware of the monkeys.  Whilst they are a lot of fun, they can be a little aggressive at times.  Follow the rules and you should find the visit one to remember.

Monkey Forest

Ubud Market

The Ubud Market sits right in the centre of town and is always the busiest spot in Ubud.

The market has two sections.  The Eastern block is for fundamental requirements such as fruit and vegetables, meat and hardware.  It opens at around 5 am.  Mornings are the best time to catch the market buzz, as locals buy all the components for the daily meal and daily offerings.

Ubud Market 2The Western Block is generally referred to as the Art Market.   It starts around 8 in the morning and trades until late in the afternoon.  Here you will find clothing, art, local handicrafts, jewellery, bags, belts, and much more.  This is a great place to buy your gifts and souvenirs to take home.

The official market day is Pasah which occurs every three days.  This is the busiest time as many of the women from nearby mountain villages come to sell their various produce.

The Ubud Market is a vibrant maze of stalls and shops with an interesting sight around every corner.  A visit here will allow you to find that special cheap souvenir, and also get a glimpse into the unique Balinese lifestyle.

Ascension Day

Some public offices being closed yesterday caused me to investigate the public holidays.  That was what prompted me to post my last story.

Confused about the Ascension Day holiday on May 22, I did some research.  A quick Google search on “ascension holiday indonesia” came up with some mixed results.

Number 1 result said it was a Christian holiday.

Number 2 result said it was the ascension to heaven of the prophet Mohammed.  There were other results in the top 10 that mentioned Mohammed.

Pretty certain that it is a Christian Holiday.  This is what said –

Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter. It occurs 39 days after Easter Sunday. It is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven according to Christian belief.

Bali Holidays

I thought Australia had too many public holidays. Well I guess not. Indonesia has more.

There are four different New Years Holidays, as well as 4 different religious holidays – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu.

Here is a list of the official public holidays this year.

  • 1 Jan –  New Year’s Day
  • 26 Jan –  Chinese New Year
  • 26 Mar –  Nyepi – Hindu New Year
  • 9 Mar –  Mouloud – Birth of the Prophet
  • 10 Apr –   Good Friday
  • 8 May –  Waisak Day – Buddha’s Birthday
  • 21 May –  Ascension.
  • 17 Aug –  Indonesian Independence Day
  • 20 Jul –  Lailat al Miraj – Ascension of the Prophet
  • 21 Sep –  Eid al Fitr – End of Ramadan
  • 28 Nov –  Eid al Adha – Feast of the Sacrifice
  • 18 Dec –  Islamic New Year
  • 25 Dec –  Christmas Day
  • 26 Dec –  Boxing Day

Bali Tourism Still Strong

kuta-beachThe current global financial crisis has had little affect on tourism in Bali.

Bali has experienced solid growth in tourist numbers between January and May this year.  The total number of tourists visiting Bali in March was 168,205, an increase of 4.66% on last year.

The number of tourists from China, Malaysia and Taiwan has increased.  Australia and Japan still provide the largest number of tourists to Bali.

It is not known if the political situation in Thailand has any bearing on the increased numbers.

Authorities do say however, that the improvements in security measures in Bali have made foreign tourists feel more comfortable.

Source – The Jakarta Post 21 May 2009

A Rising Star

AngelLast night at Zappaz Restaurant and Bar a rising star was on show.

Angel, at all of 13 years old, took the drumsticks off her father, and showed the immense talent she has.
Her father Iwan is the drummer and band manager of the versatile Zappaz band.  Her mother Lucy fronts the band as a vocalist.

Half way through the first bracket it was announced, “please welcome our guest drummer”.   Young Angel took her place behind the drums and showed some skills way beyond her years.

She played some more during the night, while dad took a break at the bar.  The audience were in awe of the immense talent she displayed, and they gave her huge applause when dad took over.

Brilliant, amazing, unbelievable where just a few words that were buzzing around afterwards.

Pics below show Dad relaxing at the bar while Mum and Angel are hard at it.
Zappaz 10Zappaz-11

Finding the right Bali Driver – Bali Tour Guide

What should you look for when you are trying to find a good Bali Driver or Tour Guide?

There are many good drivers in Bali.  But there are some duds.  When you are planning your trip to Bali, you obviously want to get the best value for your money, and will want someone who can help you make the most of your visit.

Getting a good driver can make an amazing impression on your holiday.  A bad driver could certainly leave you wondering what went wrong.

Some drivers will have bomb cars, while others have late model cars.  The difference between sitting in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle for 8 hours versus one without A/C and a broken seat is obvious.  Pick someone with a good car.

It is important that your driver / tour guide knows his way around.  That is fairly obvious.  It is fair to assume that someone who is driving for a living would know Bali, but don’t take it for granted.  It is the hidden treasures of Bali that are sometimes the best.  Only experience will find those special places.

Your driver should have a good grasp on your spoken language.  Communication is the key.  I am assuming that you will want someone who speaks English if you are reading this.  They don’t have to be fluent, but you need to easily understand each other.  Trying to tell your driver you need a toilet stop by sign language could be embarrassing.

Avoid drivers who receive “kick backs”

You definitely don’t want someone who is receiving “kick backs” from manufacturers or retailers.  Most Balinese are honest hard working people, but a rare few are unethical.  You do not want to be going to the most expensive silver manufacturer in Teluk, and being told they are the cheapest.  Meanwhile your guide is pocketing 20% of the sale.  Or similarly being taken to a “great restaurant” where the food was very ordinary, but the driver received a commission.

The final quality of a good Bali Driver is his character.  The last thing you will need on a long day trip is a driver who wants to talk all day, and thinks he is a comedian.  Almost as bad is someone with no personality that only mumbles seven words for the whole day.  A driver who can talk with you when you want, and then stay quiet while you take in the amazing sights of Bali is ideal.

Do some research and then sit back and enjoy the ride.

Welcome to The Bali Driver

ComanMy name is Coman, and I have been working as a Driver and Tour Guide in Bali for 8 years.  In that time I have learned what people want to see when they visit our magnificent island.  I know how to make your day trips enjoyable and fun.

In the next few weeks this blog will grow, and will provide Bali visitors with a valuable resource.  Our aim is to give you all the information you need, to make your Bali visit a memorable one.

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