Unforgettable Ubud

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May 5th 2011
Published: May 5th 2011
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I really am not sure where to begin with the last week out here in Bali, Indonesia. I arrived expecting to find an island ruined by tourism. And i’m sure if i’d gone to Kuta or Seminyak that might be what I found, but I have had a spiritual experience (I know, I know!) out here in Bali... Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) would be proud!!

After queuing amongst endless Aussie’s for a visa at Denpasar airport and fighting my way past endless taxI and moped drivers all yelling at me I headed out to the main road and flagged down a bemo (public minivan) to take me to Ubud – a town in the centre of BalI and known for its beautiful paddy fields and artistic locals. After two bemo rides and a moped (with a 20kilo rucksack on my back, a small rucksack slung onto the drivers front and a small bag sitting on my knee.. it’s a miracle we didn’t die really!!) I arrived in Monkey Forest Road. I soon realised that BalI was not cheap cheap like Sumatra so I forked out the rupiah and found myself a nice room and figured i’d spoil myself for
Me and Richard.. Me and Richard.. Me and Richard..

note our matching sarong/t-shirt combo..
a few days.

I really did only intend on staying a few days... little did I realise that a week later I would only just be leaving... and what a week it was. I really feel I have left BalI a slightly different person than when I arrived and i’m not even sure I can explain why...not in my blog anyway!.. may be in private I might try.

So each morning I woke at 7.30 and had breakfast on my little veranda listening to the river rushing nearby and watching the wildlife (on the first morning I also had the dulcet tones of an electric saw!) Then I made my way to a local cafe (on my moped.. heck I didn’t walk a metre the entire time I was there!) and met friends each morning, for coffee and chats. It was on the first day, at said cafe where I met Richard. We were to spend the next 6 days hanging out and exploring Ubud, but on the first day I was on my own... and I made the most of my newly acquired moped and whizzed up north to Tampaksiring. It was a Sunday and a full moon, so there were big things happening at the water temple (Tirta Empul). BalI is a mainly hindu island and so reminded me in many ways of the festivities I saw in India. After watching people praying and making offerings (they do this every morning.. and strewn around the streets of Ubud are endless little hand woven trays filled with flowers, sweets, biscuits and incense, left for the gods to bless their house/cafe/shop etc) I headed out to Tegalalang where I had heard there were some amazing views.... they were jaw droppingly, heart stoppingly beautiful. Seriously, I know I sound typically over the top but seriously! If Kerala, India is ‘god’s own country’ then surely Tegalalang, BalI is ‘god’s own paradise’. It is the most intense, spring green colour everywhere you look, with stepped paddy fields surrounded by palm trees, with a blue sky and small roads winding through. No wonder people come and fall in love here.. it’s hard not to.

So after a visit to the temple and a whizz around the beautiful country side I headed back to Ubud and hung out on the touristy streets. I have to say I was amazed at how touristy
Ogo Ogo Ogo Ogo Ogo Ogo

terrifying.. and bloody huge!!
this little town was... they had at least 4 Ralph Lauren Polo shops, a Billabong shop, a Starbucks and many more... strange considering you really are in a rural part of the island.. but with so many tourists paying big bucks I guess they do well here.

So each day after the initial one, I met my friends for coffee in the morning then Richard and I would head out exploring. On Monday we visited the temple(Gunung Kawi) at Tampaksiring where we walked down lots of steps to reach a temple carved into stone either side of a river. We were going to go to the water temple again but after an incident in the toilet which involved him getting drenched in toilet water (much to my amusement) we decided he’d been blessed by the water already! We then spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the countryside getting lost. Amazing. On Tuesday after coffee and chats amongst friends we decided it was too hot to do anything so Richard took me to a friend’s pool where we hung out in a pool surrounded by lush palm trees and on top of a steep drop down to the river. In the evening we had supper at a place which sits right in the middle of the rice fields and so we watched the sunset from this stunning location and walked back through the fields in the dark later that night... unforgettable. On Wednesday I had to pay off a policeman for not wearing my helmet!! This was hysterical. I got pulled over by a man blowing a whistle at me and then told off (literally fingers wagging at me!) and when he offered to relieve me of my bike I said, in my sweetest voice, ‘i’m sure we can sort this out another way!’.. brilliant.. although I didn’t have any change which was annoying and I didn’t think I could ask for change (!) so I ended up paying 100,000 rupiah (about £8!) I also visited the Green School. An amazing place made famous not only by its policy on green issues but also by it’s amazing bamboo structures. Thursday Richard and I decided to pay a visit to Holy Knife, a healer who supposedly finds a physical problem and heals it with his knife! Well, we went with open minds, and came home with a few welts and scratches.. but sadly not much healed!! It was such fun though and well worth it! A true BalI experience! On Friday Richard and I chatted and drove through the countryside and ate and just chilled out and chatted about all things spiritual. Saturday we hung out again and then in the evening we ate burritos at Mojo’s flying burritos (you have to go here if you ever get to Ubud!!) and went to the Jazz Cafe and listened to fantastic blues/jazz sung with all the wrong intonation but all the right soul ... and then said goodbye. A very sad goodbye. But a very fond one. Sunday I left first thing in the morning... on a moped again. It was really hard to leave this place. Not only because it has such a good energy (and yes I know I sound like a hippy but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) but also because of the routine (I miss the routine of ‘normal’ life sometimes and so it was nice to find it here!) and of course it’s always hard to leave someone when you’ve spent every day with them for a week. And so I will love
Mr knifes' box of tricks!Mr knifes' box of tricks!Mr knifes' box of tricks!

.. very dirty looking box of tricks..
BalI and in order not to be too sad when going I will tell myself that I will return. And who knows, maybe I will.

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


The knife man... The knife man...
The knife man...

or Mr Holy Knife as i think he prefers to be called!!
Me and Holy KnifeMe and Holy Knife
Me and Holy Knife

he tied that flower in my hair.. he also commented on how sweaty i was!!.. what a charmer!!
It was really quite painfulIt was really quite painful
It was really quite painful

Hence the expression.. he poked and prodded.. with knifes and sticks for goodness sake.. and we paid him for the privaledge!
praying.. praying..

During the full moon..
bone carving.. bone carving..
bone carving..

they're really into it here!.. it's a bit creepy really!!
The beautiful Green SchoolThe beautiful Green School
The beautiful Green School

Can you imagine working there? .. it did cross my mind!
beautiful river views..beautiful river views..
beautiful river views..

from a mans house.. we just wandered right in to his home! oops!!

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