Notes on an afternoon in Bali

Thursday, 20 June, 2013
By Mel Winter

After an early morning hike up a volcano (breathtaking, left camera behind, doh!), I had my traditonal Balinese coffee (basically it's one spoon of very finely ground coffee in a small cup and hot water on top, no filtering, no stirring, just like that) and my banana pancake and I decided to brave the Ubud Market. I thought, why not give it a chance? I’ve heard so much about it. Find the cheap deals and get a thrill out of the bargaining process I thought. Perhaps I can be seduced by the myriad of fabrics or even a Bintang vest!

Ja, not so much.

In fact the only thing I did want to buy, a wide brimmed hat for sun protection purposes, was in short supply and I already look ridiculous enough totally embracing the tourist look without adding a bright red face to the list. After steeling myself against the sweet-faced sales-people (a girl can only take so many pleading looks without cracking!) the final straw came when I got pinched on the cheek for “you smile but you no buy!” I was going to be her “good-luck first morning buy” apparently. This seemed unnecessary and it was then that I left the market in a state of mild disbelief smiling all the way to the Monkey Sanctuary to escape the sun beneath the thousands of year old trees.

And on my way there what do you think I found? Just about the widest brimmed, most Colonial British looking hat you’ve ever gosh darn seen, for half the price! Winning!

I am becoming increasingly good at selfies.

And then I arrived at the Monkey Sanctuary, and I was like, hey Ubud, good going! You’ve managed to keep all your monkeys in one non-caged area? And then you charge silly tourists (I’m not excluding myself here) to come mingle with them? Nice one! Try coming to Durban where all you need to do is leave a window open and you’ve orchestrated a close encounter of the primate kind.

This is the life guys, these monkeys have got it made.
Well if I was them I wouldn’t want to leave either this area either. Thousands of tourists a day buying bananas to feed them and then basically let them jump all over you, even if you don’t ask or don’t buy them a banana, these guys are so socialized (relative term), if you sit down they come climb literally on top of your head, which is what happened to me. This lady however was bribing them:

Tourist watching is by far one of the funniest activities you can indulge in, but more on that another time.

Coffee. Needed coffee. And I found 3 ‘good’ places that afternoon. I say 'good' because really none of them were great but they were all awesome little spots for various reasons.

Tukmak actually had the best tasting coffee, although I had to wait for ages for it to cool down, go figure! I mean just look at the pic, I had to blur the mountain of foam to save it some face.

Kafe had the best micro-texturing but the coffee lacked flavour, amazing spot for live music and delicious healthy food and smoothies.

And then there was Anomali. Very cool. Awful macchiato, awful. Their Black Pearl blend was sour as anything. But they had a screen printing art exhibition which was superb. I had a guided tour with one of the artists which made the bad but stylishly presented coffee worth it!

So 'good' cafe experiences. One last note: When in Ubud on the coffee shop hunt, always go upstairs, always, trust me.

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