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A day in a Balinese village.

MOST OF ALL, BALI IS temples, art, and the mystical relationship of the people to the land. And, while you'll find exotic temples and good art in cities and tourist centers, the best way to get a feeling for their cultural role is to spend a day or so in a village.

Ubud, about an hour's drive north of hotel districts in Kuta Beach and Sanur, is a good place to start. Since the 1930s, it has been a major center for Balinese painting and art. Plenty of good, inexpensive lodgings and restaurants are in or near town. While the town center has grown, the surrounding villages remain essentially unchanged by tourism.

Two easy walks can introduce you to the area. Stop first at the information office of Bina Wisata, on Jalan Raya, Ubud's main street. The office sells a Bali Path Finder map (the best area map we found) for about $2. It can also help you find lodging, make reservations for dance and gameplan performances, and provide information on temple festivals and weddings open to visitors.

Enough happens in the center of town to keep you busy for a good part of a day.

The Puri Lukasan Museum, also on Jalan Raya and open 8 to 4, offers a good introduction to Bali's distinctive art styles with works by some of the island's best artists.

A few doors east, the Lotus Cafe serves good Balinese and Western food at shady tables overlooking a lotus pond.



Walk a block farther east down Jalan Raya and you'll come to Monkey Forest Road on the right, with Ubud's main market at the corner.

Go early to sample the best produce and wander through small alleys lined with stalls. The market is also a good place to buy the wide cloth sash that must be worn when entering any temple or shrine.

A brisk 20-minute walk down Monkey Forest brings you to a pocket of forest that is refuge for a small band of gray monkeys. The monkeys are charming to watch as they play and groom each other, but if they suspect you have food, they can become aggressive and pesky.

Narrow paths lead through the woods, which are cool and peaceful. A small temple on the west side of the forest has striking stone figures of witches with long tongues hanging between pendulous breasts.

Allow plenty of time on the walk back to poke into roadside shops and art galleries, or relax over a strong capi Bali (coffee) in one of the many restaurants.



Starting at the museum, head west down Jalan Raya to Campuan Bridge, where you'll find several good restaurants and art galleries.

Just before the bridge, steps behind a school to the right lead down to the stone courts of a temple nearly hidden by greenery. The temple, Pura Gunlung Laba, is one of Bali's oldest. During our visit, we enjoyed watching restoration of a thatched roof.

Cross Campuan Bridge, then take the hairpin turn left onto a paved road leading not quite a mile over a low ridge to the village of Penestanan--known for its artists who broke from traditional mythological themes in the 1950s to paint landscapes and villages. Several residential compounds still double as galleries for resident artists.

For travel planning help, write or call the Indonesia Tourist Promotion Office, 3457 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90010; (213) 387-2078.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1991
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