So what was the silver lining? The most interesting part of the day for me was driving around southern Bali seeing how people live. That and the monkeys.
The driving is crazy - high speed and narrow lanes with millions of motor scooters swooshing around between cars, buses and trucks. Children and dogs play precariously close to the road. There is a great humble jumble of life occurring just a few feet back. Houses and shops have their fronts open during the day so you can see the bottles of pop being sold, the women cooking and the concrete forms being poured. There are many billboards advertising many familiar products. To my surprise, lots of the signs are in English. I'm not sure if those are just for the tourist trade, though I saw a hospital listing all its departments in English, so that didn't make sense. Amidst all this commerce, people were putting up the most fanciful, glorious decorations - huge, flexible bamboo sticks which bend over the street like lampposts and were covered with bent ribbons of rattan in Dr. Seuss like crazy, spiky arrangements. These are in honour of a religious holiday starting today called Galungan. So, I liked the drive.
And how could I not like the monkeys at the temple? Gray, furry monkeys walking around, grooming one another, having sex, nursing babies and generally watching the world go by. All looking like reflections of ourselves, only with longer tails. We had been warned to leave our hats, bags and eyeglasses in the car. There were three young women walking just ahead of me when I saw this monkey suddenly set his sights on them. Lickety split her foot went up and Mr Monkey had her flip flop off in a second! And he wasn't giving it back; he just sat there with the purple flip flop in one hand and the nice piece of yellow banana in the other. We figured the old woman who sells the banana and the monkeys have a deal - the monkey steals the flip flop, the woman makes the sale and the monkey gets the food!
In the end a very interesting day; just not the one I had expected.
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