Three times so far, we have hired a driver to show us some sights outside Ubud. His name is Wayan and is a friend of friends of ours who have been coming to this hotel for 7 years.
Look for parts 1, 2 & 3. And there will probably be more :)
Wayan Outing Part 1
On Sunday, we started the day with a visit to a village called Mas that specializes in woodwork. We watched some carvers at work and then were toured around the extensive gallery, with hopes that we would buy something. I found this particularly awkward - as the manager hovered and looked rather grim when it became clear we were not going to buy. Next was a silver merchant in Celuk. Again, so many beautiful pieces... but nothing I had to have. We opted next to veer away from the merchants and head for the Elephant sanctuary. Throughout the drive, Wayan told us various odds and ends about Balinese life and about his own struggles to make a living here. He was very honest and sweet and made the drive that much more interesting. The elephant sanctuary at first felt very formal. We entered into a tall white room with safari ratan chairs and various painting of elephants on the wall. The prices were double what I had expected to pay for a ride ($68/adult, $23 for Abbey). I also had mixed feelings about riding - despite feeling fairly confident that the animals were well treated. It seemed so tourist-trappy. But since Mike had ridden an Elephant in Nepal and had said it was an unforgettable experience, and had talked about it many times since...then it felt like hey we're here. And it was great. The guides were goofy and playful and it was an experience just touching the giant animal. After the sanctuary we headed up into the highlands to the sacred water temple. It rained buckets on the way, causing rivers in the streets. We passed a funeral procession on their way to an open cremation. The energy in the temple was beautiful, probably even more so because of the rain. They gave us sarongs to cover our knees, and we watched quietly as people prayed and cleansed in holy water. At one point, Abbey caught the attention of a holy man, who asked to pick her up. His face was so bright and open and happy. Abbey, however, was too taken aback to notice his peacefulness and so only lasted a few seconds before reaching for me :) Outside the temple, we stopped by a large pond to feed masses of giant koi. Unfortunately both cameras died at the same time then, so we will have to remember this in our minds. Inevitably, Abbey fell asleep on the way home.