on January 19, 2007
Walks around Ubud and its surrounding villages are extremely rewarding, as they offer many opportunities to marvel at budding artists at work in open verandahs and observe age-old tasks of rice cultivation alongside sophisticated hotels. One such walk which allows us a glimpse of rural life and gorgeous rice fields will be this walking trail south of Ubud: beginning at the delightful Monkey Forest Sanctuary, continuing southwards to the little village of Nyuh Kuning, and circling back up to Penestanan. This walk will take about 2 hours and covers a distance of approximately 8km. As always, you will need a hat, good shoes, and a good tourist map (pick up one for free at the Ubud Tourist Information Center before you set off). Mineral water can be purchased at many stalls for about 50 cents to $1.50. It is a fact of life that when you walk in Ubud town, you WILL be asked at least 35 times in an hour if you would like transportation, a massage, performance tickets, and souvenirs. If you need to take a break from roadside vendors, the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary offers a cool and dense jungle refuge. Officially called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana, it houses three beautifully carved holy temples and is sprawling with hundreds of long-tailed Balinese macaques. Tickets are sold at the main gate and cost about $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. You will also get a free map. The sanctuary is open from 8am to 6pm daily. You will find wizened local women selling bananas for about 20 to 30 cents a bunch and urging you to feed the monkeys—a fun and heartwarming activity until you run out of bananas and the monkeys start leaping on you. Indeed the sanctuary’s real entertainment value is watching well-dressed tourists shrieking as they are chased by little furry animals. Nyuh Kuning is a quiet little village with well-known hotels, such as the Bali Spirit Hotel and Spa and the Hotel Villa Kerti Yasa, situated here to take advantage of the decidedly more tranquil setting and beautifully green rice fields. Hotel staff is generally very friendly and will not mind if you look around the establishment to take pictures. You can also stop for refreshments here as the prices are much cheaper compared to other hotels in town. Penestanan is famous for being the birthplace of a unique Balinese style of painting, where typical village scenes are painted in vibrant technicolor, which was discovered and encouraged by Dutch painter Arie Smit . Indeed, many thriving artists live in this village and you can stop by their homes and galleries to appreciate and purchase paintings. To learn more about Balinese art, visit the Neka Art Museum on your way back to Ubud. It is open Monday to Saturdays (9am to 5pm). Tickets cost about $2 for adults and are free for children.
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