We woke early, as we had a 6;30am pickup, which was actually running late, as it had to continually stop for a sick passenger (Bali Belly?), while we waited we watched a couple of Monkeys play on top of our bungalow from the hotel lobby. Monkeys outside of the Sacred Forest are not sacred…interesting fact.
Once picked up we made our journey out to the Elephant Sanctuary, due to our sick passenger, it was a long ordeal. I was a little concerned about this place, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. These Elephants are Sumatran Elephants, the smallest of the Elephants (apart from Pygmy Elephants) and roam Sumatra (part of Indonesia), due to their voracious appetites, these animals often eat and destroy farming communities, the farmers get angry and shoot these beautiful animals, where an animal is seen to be in danger the Government steps in and rescues the animals and places them in camps. Footage of these government camps looks awful, cramped, uncomfortable and miserable for the animals. The Elephant Sanctuary raises money to buy elephants from the camps and places them in the sanctuary, they have limited funds and room, and therefore cannot buy as many animals as they would like. The animals spend more time playing than working (apart from 2 months of the year when they work very hard during the peak season). They are chained up in special feeding circles as elephants will continue to eat and steal food from other animals, but the rest of the time roam free. This sanctuary has been a favorite by many famous people; David Beckham, Julian Lennon, Julia Roberts, Jimmy Barnes and so many others.
So we got to bathe the elephants and then take a swim bareback for those who dared, the water was full of poo and pee! It smelt awful and was probably a tremendous health risk, so I stayed out and just took photos. I did notice our sick lady partook…and was probably made even sicker! We then had breakfast and watched while the elephants played in the water. We then had a 30-minute elephant ride through the forest. My Rider, Wayan and his elephant Yanti have been together 7 years, each elephant has its own carer so that they form a bond. Without these sanctuaries, the elephants in the wild would be shot by farmers, who consider them giant pests, so not the best outcome for the elephants, but better than extinction.
I chatted with Wayan the whole way, he trained for almost a year to be a rider, Yanti was 31 years old and has one baby who is 4 years old. We then got to feed them and take photos (including Yanti’s baby). We then watched a show (perhaps 15 minutes), where they played football and basketball, painted and sat on logs. Some people still think it’s cruel but better than in the wild. The animals seemed happy and their ‘work’ seemed more like play. We then headed back to Ubud and had lunch at the Lotus Cafe (again) as their Nasi Goreng was amazing. We also took photos of all the orchids they had growing outside, so many different colors and varieties.
I have some video of the Sanctuary and the elephants on Youtube, if you would like to have a look too.
We then found a Starbucks…..Bali may grow a lot of coffee, but they don’t seem to know how to make it 🙂 , not that Starbucks is brilliant, but it was better than we had had in days. We then watched cars, bikes, vans, and buses play Tetris in the Museum car park, a popular pickup and drop off point, quite amusing. We then went back to our hotel and wandered the expansive grounds, down to the spa and river. Lots of interesting mini-temples, flowers, and bugs, we even spotted a squirrel. Spent a relaxing afternoon swimming and then on the patio playing with long exposure and our lotus pond. We went into Ubud (via local taxi) for dinner at Oops restaurant, very nice alfresco dining and then wandered the streets at night. Found our first beggars this night.