Friday, February 13, 2015

Monkeys, Temples, Art, Oh My!

Today was mostly about monkeys, because in my humble opinion, the best part about Ubud are the monkeys. Sure there are hundreds of adorable shops, and lovely super cheap spas, and I'm sure amazing yoga retreats, and many tasty restaurants and and and....monkeys! Just a few minutes from my homestay is the popular Monkey Forest, which contains several temples, lush winding paths, streams and waterfalls, and hundreds of feisty macaques. I may have too many pictures today, but they're too adorable and I couldn't stop.  They had a few stalls around the park selling small bunches of bananas, and the attendants showed you how to hold the treats in order to get one of the monkeys to sit on your head to get it (supposedly for a picture or for the great amusement of your friends), but these fellas aren't exactly clean and are quite unpredictable, so I decided to pass. I did watch as one of the particularly big ones sat on a girls head and wiggled his butt for a bit as he smooshed the banana peel into her shoulder before scampering off. 

The only guy there watching his figure, the rest were stuffing their faces with carbs (sweet potatoes)

Irka, look! Monkeys love those tiny ice cream spoons too!

Forest guardians at your service

Happy Family

I'm not sure how old this statue is, I wonder if this is where the "Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil" came from

Monkeys under attack! 

Sittin' pretty

Welcome to my temple! Oh, the door is locked? Suckers!

Dragon bridge

I was told not to talk with my mouth full, so I'm going to keep chewing until you go away

These statues of monkeys in various poses and activities are all over the city and pop up everywhere as you walk among the shops and cafes. 

Another thing I kept running into were the temples. I even watched as workers built and decorated yet another temple in the tiny wedge of free space along the road. They were carving out the statues out of giant blocks of wet clay and molding the intricate decorations on the walls by hand.  They kept their work covered under tarps so that people wouldn't stare, but it was still pretty impressive to see them at work. 

One of the temples had this giant statue of a komodo dragon standing guard at the entrance, but somehow he doesn't look as ominous with the offering on his snout.

And in spots where there were no temples, people maintained cauldrons and vases filled with fish or flowers so you can't go two steps without finding something pretty to look at.

I stopped by the Ubud market, a two story building packed to the gills with all the things tourists might want at crazy low/negotiable prices, but as I'm not really in the market for souvenirs the insistent hawking, not to mention the smell, got old fast and I hightailed it out of there. Just a little further down the street I found the Museum Puri Lukisan and popped in to check it out. It declares that since it's on a little hill with rice fields behind it that it's cooler than the streets below, but I give that credit to the many fans they have all over the place. Either way, I wasn't about to complain. The grounds were lovely, with a slightly dry around the edges lotus pond and four different exhibition halls, but photography inside was not allowed, plus it was too dark to get any decent shots anyways, soI did my best.  

The ticket price also included a drink, so when I was done meandering I settled in at their cafe and ordered and iced tea. I think all places around here should come with free iced tea, it's an instant pick me up in this humid heat. 

Walking back towards the homestay I discovered that they offer those fish tank pedicures that were really popular a few years ago (until someone figured out that it's only hygienic for the very first customer of the day), and I watched as a Chinese couple held their little boy's feet in the tank as he giggled and hid his face from the camera. I also stopped and watched a local show similar to the opera I watched in Yogyakarta, but the performers here were not as good and I barely made it to the end. 

It's now evening and aside from writing this up for you before turning in, I'm playing hide and seek with my personal mosquito guardian of a lizard. He keeps slowly crawling out from behind a wall tapestry and then madly dashing back to his hiding spot if I move or click the keys too loudly. In a few minutes I'm going to go to bed and he'll be able to guard his territory without any distractions from me. March on little lizard, eat all the skeeters!!!!


  1. Sounds like an awesome day! Cute monkeys! And I LOVE that statue from the museum! Too bad you couldn't take pictures inside.

  2. All i know is that the komodo dragon statue is JUST as cute as all those monkeys! I want one!! I'll put popcorn on his snout and see what happens. It will be my new favorite game :)

  3. Ask and you shall receive:
    The three wise monkeys sometimes called the three mystic apes, are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil.

    The source that popularized this pictorial maxim is a 17th-century carving over a door of the famous Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan. The carvings at Toshogu Shrine were carved by Hidari Jingoro, and believed to have incorporated Confucius’s Code of Conduct, using the monkey as a way to depict man’s life cycle. There are a total of 8 panels, and the iconic three wise monkeys picture comes from panel 2. The philosophy, however, probably originally came to Japan with a Tendai-Buddhist legend, from China in the 8th century (Nara Period). It has been suggested that the figures represent the three dogmas of the so-called middle school of the sect.

    It is also possible that the three monkeys came from a more central root than a play on words.[contradiction] The shrine at Nikko is a Shinto shrine, and the monkey is an extremely important being in the Shinto religion.[citation needed] The monkey is believed to be the messenger of the Hie Shinto shrines, which also have connections with Tendai Buddhism. There are even important festivals that are celebrated during the year of the Monkey (occurring every twelve years) and a special festival is celebrated every sixteenth year of the Kōshin.

    "The Three Mystic Apes" (Sambiki Saru) were described as "the attendants of Saruta Hito no Mikoto or Kōshin, the God of the Roads".[10] The Kōshin festival was held on the 60th day of the calendar. It has been suggested that during the Kōshin festival, according to old beliefs, one’s bad deeds might be reported to heaven "unless avoidance actions were taken…." It has been theorized that the three Mystic Apes, Not Seeing, Hearing, or Speaking, may have been the "things that one has done wrong in the last 59 days."

    According to other accounts, the monkeys caused the Sanshi and Ten-Tei not to see, say or hear the bad deeds of a person. The Sanshi (三尸?) are three worms living in everyone's body. The Sanshi keep track of the good deeds and particularly the bad deeds of the person they inhabit. Every 60 days, on the night called Kōshin-Machi (庚申待?), if the person sleeps, the Sanshi will leave the body and go to Ten-Tei (天帝?), the Heavenly God, to report about the deeds of that person. Ten-Tei will then decide to punish bad people, making them ill, shortening their time alive, and in extreme cases putting an end to their lives. Those believers of Kōshin who have reason to fear will try to stay awake during Kōshin nights. This is the only way to prevent the Sanshi from leaving their body and reporting to Ten-Tei.