Ubud is known as the cultural center of Bali.  When I visited here in 1996, it was a fairly quiet town with a few restaurants and shops.  Since then, it has grown dramatically.  However, it hasn’t lost its charm – dozens of art galleries and woodworking shops are scattered thrroughout the town and rice paddies are less than a mile away. 

We decided to stay in the city instead of at one of the many hotels built directly in the rice fields. 
This has allowed us to explore the city, but hasn’t allowed us to see much of the surrounding area.  So, yesterday we rented a motorcycle (ok, it was more like a moped, but no one wants to admit to riding one of those).

Within a few minutes, we were in incredibly green rice fields where the local farmers were harvesting the rice.  I haven’t been able to properly photograph the “greenness” of the fields, and I’m not sure any cameras are out there that can really capture it.  It is striking.  If there are any photographers reading this, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

While driving through a small village, we came upon a large group of men and women in the middle of a Balinese ceremony.  They were wearing traditional dress and playing music as they walked along the village street.  We never did find out what the ceremony was all about.  It was a little awkward photographing their ceremony, but they didn’t seem to mind. 

Next, we came upon the Sacred Forest Monkey Sanctuary. 
Sacred Monkey Forest Ubud
My first thought was – tourist trap.  You’d walk in the forest and maybe see 1 or 2 monkeys.  Wow – was I wrong!  Within a few seconds, we were virtually being attacked by scores of the dirty animals.  Many of the tourists buy bananas and other fruit to feed the monkeys, so they assume that all the visitors have something to give them. Thus, each of them runs up to you, gives you a once-over and decides if you’re worthy of their attention.  We had no food, but we did have a camera which one aggressive monkey took a shining to.  As he approached my leg to start climbing up to grab the camera, I gave a quick kick in his direction, barely missing his chin.  He quickly realized that this big American man wasn’t going to give in easy.  Then, I ran away…  So much for bravery.