People like hotels that feel like home. I disagree. Strongly. While I technically don't have a home right now, I think the whole point of staying in a hotel is that it ain't like home. I want crisp linens and someone who makes my bed (a habit I have not gotten into ever not even as an adult), I love a minibar and pretend it's always free, and I love making a mess within 5 minutes because I know I can leave the next day and will just move said mess into my suitcase.
No, really, I don't mind that hotels are nothing like a home. Having that said, though, there are some I would like to make my home.
Bisma Eight is such a place. From the moment I saw the website, I knew I would want to move in indefinitely. While I couldn't make Bali feel like home, Ubud did and I think it was thanks to Bisma.
One of its highlights is its location. Jalan Bisma runs parallel to Jalan Monkey Forest and is about a ten-minute walk to the entrance of the Monkey Forest. Close enough to get your daily dose of monkeys - especially important for my friend and travel companion Julia who has declared on multiple occasions that she wants to be Michael Jackson just for the monkey - but far enough not to get surprised by random monkey business.
There is less hustle on Jalan Bisma than in the rest of Ubud and you even see a rice paddy here and there. The very special thing about Bisma Eight is a seamless blend of modern design and local craftsmanship. You will see this mixture in the rooms, in the food, and in the location. From the outside, it looks like a gray block of concrete but upon coming closer you realize that it actually blends quite nicely: Flowers on those gray walls, billowy curtains and once you are inside, their very own altar with a big Ganesh statue. Here guests can leave an offering that you are given upon check-in.
Our room is nothing short of stunning. Poor Julia has to be a good #Instagramhusband and stand in a corner for the first fifteen minutes while I am taking pictures of everything before the 5-minute mess can set in.
Afterward, I am tempted to fill the giant wooden bath tub for a nice 'action shot' but decide against it. Because a) I don't like taking baths and b) saving water is important and c) climbing into a bathtub with no water just to take a picture seems rather silly though is probably not unheard of. While I don't mind making a fool of myself for you, I do have a limit.
Instead, we decide to take to the pool, order all the wine and all the snacks because that is also the beauty of not staying at home - calories while in a hotel do not ever count!
While everybody agrees that it is a bit early in the year for heavy rains, the skies don't give a damn. Soon we are swimming in the rain before retreating for a nap. Some beds are too good not to spend as much time as possible in them.
The next morning we are devouring eggs and waffles with sorbet (!!) for breakfast (Seriously, why can't I always get waffles with sorbet for breakfast?!) before getting down to business.
Monkey business that is. We are off to the Sacred Monkey Forest! Julia is cautious, I am enthralled - my rabies shots which cost me a fortune are making me brave. Before we even enter, my waterbottle gets stolen and I have two little ones hanging off me. I am ecstatic.
While the Monkey Forest is called a sanctuary it is definitely a tourist attraction, one I am not so sure about in hindsight. You pay to walk inside the forest and you can pay a bit extra to get bananas to feed the monkeys. While there is nothing outright harmful about feeding them bananas, this has obviously become a money making operation - the banana sellers will tell you exactly how to hold them so the monkeys will come and sit on your shoulder (or head) while they take a picture of you and your new friend. They also have long sticks to keep them at bay if the monkeys become a bit too cheeky.
I will admit that I cannot resist either and neither can Julia. This is as close to her Michael Jackson fantasy as one can get without engaging in some seriously questionable practices. As you cannot choose whether your banana is going to attract a cute baby or a big mama with fangs, we are both getting a bit scared and to me, the whole thing feels a bit off. At least in hindsight.
At the end of the day, we return to Bisma. No monkeys in sight except a few at the exit of the forest, sleepy and peaceful looking. For now, we are happy to have a monkey-free place to retire to and eat more waffles in the knowledge that the monkeys are only a road away if we miss them too much.
After I return home, I find this post by Rikki who shares similar feelings about the ethics of the Monkey Forest. That makes me think and I decide that in the future, I will rather seek a natural interaction as she had with the monkey. And with that, I vow to return to the Monkey Forest sans bananas but with a lot more patience. I still need to add a proper monkey selfie to my collection!
Have you been to the Monkey Forest? How did you find the experience?
Thank you for Bisma Eight for providing a home away from home, the monkey business and the waffles!