Sunday, February 24, 2008

Paradise

I am moving to Ubud.
This place is magical, sure it is a bit touristy but the tourist (myself included) here don't feel offensive.
Ubud is nestled in the hills of Bali, close to the centre of the island. The land is lush, the people are welcoming and kind but not pushy even when they are trying to get you into their shop.
I fell in love with this place the moment I arrived. I am so sorry I have to leave in a few days. My stay in Bali will be altogether too short.
I arrived two days ago from Kuta. (Dirty Dancing was my sound track on the bus up- fabulous!)
My first evening here I did some shopping and went to a traditional Balinese dance at the Ubud Palace. My hotel is amazing. It is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed in, not just this trip, ever! It is called Gusti Garden Bungalows and the view off my private balcony looks over lush gardens and a beautiful refreshing swimming pool. It is my palace. I have found paradise and I don't want to leave, not ever.
Yesterday I went on a Eco Cycling trip. We left early in the morning, drove to Mt. Bautu and then cycled 30km (mostly downhill, but not all) around the Ubud area. The guide was very knowledgeable. He taught us about Balinese culture and home life. The tour took us to a garden/farm where we were educated on the fruits and vegetables of Bali. We got to observe traditional coffee bean roasting and sample several different teas, coffees, hot cocoa, and fruits. the tour also took us to a family compound to see how people live in the country side, the traditional and spiritually relevant layout of the compound, and the cows and pigs that the family will keep. The cows are not eaten as Balinese are Hindu, but are keep as kind of an insurance policy for the family.
The country side we cycled past was breathtaking. Bali seems so untouched by the commercial western world. One of the particularly special aspects of Bali is that each village has a temple and these temples are very old. It reminded me quite a bit of Siem Reap, not Angkor Wat per say as that temple is very big, but the smaller old temples that have decayed a bit. The difference here is that the people live around the temple. There are these ancient structures everywhere that are not for tourism, they are central to life.
At the end of our cycling tour we were treated to a fabulous Balinese lunch. The food was so good, especially after the 10km of slow gentle uphill climb we had just completed.
the tour finished with a trip to the Monkey Forest here in Ubud city. I have a million pictures of monkeys as there were about a million monkeys... actually a little scary.
On this tour I met Richard. Richard is my English, 6'6" version of Duncan. We clicked right away, and now I am horribly abusing his offer to use his computer. Rich is great and I think I have hooked him into being a travel buddy for a few days. So much for being alone.
Our guide, Gday, offered to take us to a special ceremony at a temple then to the night market for some local food. Richard and I snatched up the chance, so a few hours after arrival back in Ubud I was picked up and then dress up in full Balinese costume. No one is allowed to enter a temple unless dressed in traditional cloths. We were driven to the temple where we made an offering, prayed and were blessed by a priest. There were no other westerners there and we certainly could not help but be noticed. (Richard is part giant). After the procession from the temple we sat to watch some (2hrs) Balinese dancing which was part of the temple's ceremony (happens every 6 months).
The dancing was amazing, even if we were exhausted after our physical day. We had to leave the dance a bit early in order to catch the night market before it closed at midnight. I was not hungry as the lunch was massive, but I still tasted some new dishes and they were very good. When I finally arrived at my oasis of a hotel I feel fast asleep. No dreams so possibly top my day.
I will upload pics of my hotels the next chance I get.
Cheers,
L.

3 comments:

Duran said...

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Anonymous said...

Linden: Your pictures and descriptions are so wonderful to see. Much better than watching the oscars but I am a movie buff so am addicted to watching those beautiful talented artists. Love Cheryl

Anonymous said...

Hi Linden, Sundays come and go and we have not spoken in a long time!!! Happy to see your posts; let us know your plans. The photos are lovely,Love
Mom