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[ This is the third of several posts about this trip… to begin at the beginning click here: ]

Feeling oriented at Villa Vajra we looked forward to exploring on our own while Joel & Nirgrantha hosted their regular Sunday meditation group.
Joel had introduced us, when we joined on his morning dog-walks, to an ancient foot path, paved with stones reminding us of those we used in Soundcliff’s garden… reportedly Indonesian.

Abelard & Heloise, loved playing into the dense grass growing tall enough to hide them before the narrow ridge dropped rather precipitously to either side. This is literally the high road!

Here I am  striding its easy surface, happily absorbed in the views across & down into the deep river valleys with Joel…

These are the backsides of the properties with entrances along the motor road, resorts or homes, often replacing the very rice fields which we all come to see…

Although I doubt these lower steeps were ever farmed… I see no evidence of the necessary irrigation system.  That lowest pavilion seems obviously most desirable for the reward of its hard-won seclusion after an endless flight of steps…

The path follows the crest while cars must traverse a more winding route down through the river valley, snaking along the side of this ridge. A pleasant half-hour trek brought us to Ubud town, which has long held the reputation of being an art center.

It is often said there is no word for art in Bali because everything is made beautifully with care… this bit of organic graffiti grabbed Stephen’s eye…  as if proof, perhaps.

Along the way there was a temple being rebuilt, giving me opportunity to observe construction techniques.

Bamboo scaffolding, of course, & some great timbers curing at the ready… Stephen has come to accept my curiosity about such mechanique… I’m always looking at functional design, studying how things work, fascinated by tools & hardware…

This  cement mixer, obviously essential to all the incredible brick & stone work,
still looked a bit out of place…
We met up again with the auto traffic down at the bridge over the river leading into town, where we became “millionaires” again by the exchange rate making $100 almost that much in Rupia. We had a leisurely breakfast of fruit, granola & blended fruit drinks… with pots of the good local coffee.
They are rebuilding their market…bamboo scaffolding on a  scale larger enough to work concrete… the metal framing surprised me!
There was still a section of the old market, 
functioning in trade for fruits, vegetables & daily necessities.

 Plus carved wooden masks which were touristy, yet seductive… echoing Venice a bit.
 Such attention to  exuberant detail exists almost everywhere one looks… The gates & doorways were constantly fascinating. The first one shown has a ramp for wheelbarrows… 
or motor bikes, more likely!

When we’d bought nice batik-ed shirts on the first day, but saw other interesting shops while Joel gave us a driving tour, which we wanted to visit having more time. We ambled, shopping & soaking-up the local life along the wildly eroded sidewalks of narrow Hanuman street while the sun got hotter… soaking our new shirts in turn.

Here, an interesting man was placing one of the offering baskets along the street side, inside a tender moment of obvious devotion inside this traditional practice… under his bleached hair!

The utility of such poignant futility
becomes curiously palpable
to our culture of digital backups hoping protection
from the demons we fear

A beer with lunch helped to cool us off. On our way to visit the nearby Monkey Forest… the shop of an ikat weaver & her husband, who made her wonderful patterns into clothing absorbed us. They were intriguing enough to inspire us to return before the end of our trip for more shirts, understandably more expensive, but we rationalized that some will become gifts later on.

While monkeys were not seen generally, the Monkey Forest is a preserve containing several ancient  temples… lots of Macaque & almost as many tourists… sometimes ourselves acting a bit like monkeys!

This one posed playing  peek-a-boo, with a wrapper!

A rather sudden rain squall soaked us as we scrambled into a shelter already crowded with Japanese families & a clutch of Balinese children, one of whom asked where we were from, wanting to practice her already good English. One of the forest’s residents joined the human pack, grabbing a bag of chips which he proceeded to devour close to Stephen while hanging on to a banana he was hoarding for later.

He began acting more aggressive & peed on the platform, rapidly clearing most of the crowd while a ranger came along to manage him with a more playful, mocking aggression & some kind of favored leaves.

I grabbed this shot of one aping the pose of a sculpture… 

Deeper into the forest ravine was a bridge with two fierce stone dragons for its sides…
Deeper yet were more sculptures… Komoto dragons, [part of the fauna of the next island east from Bali…] which seemed to be part of the water course through a ritual bathing temple above.

Stephen had fun making a couple of portraits of us that day:

We walked back along the main shopping street to find a taxi to drive us home after a tiring day on foot… we passed on the opportunity to have the dead skin on our feet nibbled by fish…

But one piece of jewelry caught my eye for its nicely crocheted wire design…

I’ll leave us as with some of the holiday decor we’d encountered, beginning with a tropical tree wrapped in festive Mylar… inviting me to think toward doing that to our apricot next holiday season for Open Studio…

Then… a street-buffering garden [was it temple or restaurant?] subtly enhancing its agave’s spines with blown egg shell ornaments… I’m quite certain, egg lover that I am, I won’t copy this amusement!

This bit of visual cacophony seems better than those… 
traditional festive banners dancing with power… 

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