18 November 2013
We started our morning with breakfast delivered to our balcony. Really! This seems to be an automatic thing in Bali, that a hotel room or guest house or bungalow or whatever includes breakfast, and most of the time the breakfast is delivered without you even ordering it! Somehow it feels so much more luxurious to sit on the balcony, watching the birds and butterflies and listening to people in the passageway below, while we relax over tea or coffee and enjoy our fruit, toast, and omelette. I could get used to this kind of life!
I'm not sure how it happened, but a lovely old man who is an artist, and well known in this part of Bali, came up to our balcony to see if we would like to buy some art. His name is Made (which is the name all second sons are named in Bali), and he lives in a village a bit outside Ubud. Anyway, he really was a wonderful man, aged 78, and we spent about an hour and half talking to him - about art, politics, life in Bali, all that. In the end, I bought a small painting from him, which shows Barong, the lion-headed god or spirit, who
represents good. And yes, in the stories and legends (or myths, or however you want to think of it), Barong always triumphs over evil, or bad character.
So we had a long discussion about good and evil, and the belief that good always triumphs. Made explained that everything comes in twos, always opposite but they make the whole - male/female, earth/sky, fire/water, good/evil. The two always go together. That's why the statues outside temples, shrines, homes are always in pairs. And that Balinese Hinduism believes that you make offerings to both, but that good character will always triumph over evil.
I then asked about the decorations that are still all over Ubud, the bamboo and leaf decorations for the festival last month. Yes, this festival is for good winning - but also, the decorations themselves represent the duality of nature and of humans. The shape represents the mountain, the very large volcano here in Bali - there are three mountains, Mount Agung, the tallest, Mount Abang, the second, and Mount Batur, with a large caldera at the top. Plus the large temple is at the base of one of the mountains (I think Mount Agung, but we had some language difficulties) - so the shape of the mountain reminds people of that major temple. But the bent bamboo, showing the mountain shape, is decorated in leaves - because the mountain is covered in trees, and you need the trees for plants, for food, for building materials, for life. So while the decorations celebrate good winning, they also represent the natural environment as well as the spiritual.
Interesting, isn't it?
It was an interesting morning, and both Richard and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting this man. Although I do hope we don't have daily visits from artists, because I'm such a soft touch that I could easily go broke trying to help people out!
We decided we'd head to the market, and see what looked interesting.
Turned out, just about everything did!
First, there were women going up and down the street with huge heavy baskets of baked goods on their heads, often carrying thermoses of either hot water or tea. People would stop them and buy breakfast
or snacks on the go, or the women would check in at the stores to see if someone wanted to buy the food or a hot drink. And those baskets were HEAVY - one woman put the pad on her head and had a man help lift the basket onto her head! I don't know how the women managed to balance these heavy loads! (You can see the little circle pad on this woman's head.)
Oh, I have to add,
apparently some people are either shy or superstitious about being photographed - I saw some adorable schoolboys and asked if I could take their photo, and the littler guy gave me an adamant NO! So some of these photos are what I call sneak photos - taken on the sly. Because I want to share what we see with all of our friends and family. And because I know the camera isn't stealing anyone's spirit or soul or whatever. But that's why I don't have a lot of Balinese faces in the blog. I'll see what I can do.
Anyway, there were fruit stands with some of the most gorgeous red dragon fruit that I have EVER seen - and they were nice round globes, not the weird mis-shapen things we sometimes get in the states. The things that look like purple tomatoes are mangosteens - I didn't try one, since I'm allergic to mango so I don't trust anything that even sounds related.
I did buy some lovely fresh figs, though.
The major part of the market was devoted to touristy items - clothing, carvings, T shirts, mosaics, paintings, more carvings, things like that.
Because Indonesia in general is known for the arts and crafts.
It was an explosion of colour!
The shops and stalls went on and on in all kinds of directions, creating a labyrinth that wove and wound around until we didn't know which way we were facing.
And this is rainy season, so there are fewer tourists than usual. Which meant when we showed our foreigner faces, we were pounced on. We managed to not buy anything, but it was difficult! Especially for me, because the fabrics are so gorgeous - all those Indonesian batiks! I'm so enticed by the colours and
patterns, and there are so many choices! And then, would I want cotton or silk or rayon?
Of course, I don't really need any new clothes at the moment, having replaced a few items in the past year. And I really don't have any room in my luggage for anything new.
But it is so tempting. Especially the cutwork embroidery that seems to be a Balinese specialty, and which I've always loved!
As I said, we were good and bought nothing.
Then there were the paintings, with the occasional temple or shrine tucked away behind a few panels of colour.
One of the local specialties seems to be kites -
absolutely incredible kites, with a core figure like a dragon in the center, and the wings spreading out to form the flying part of the kite. Gorgeous! I especially like the dragons! And this was an exceptionally attractive display.
We meandered, and looked, and said "No thank you" a lot.
Oh, one of those odd things I've noticed - people here call me "Madame" and Richard is "Sir." But in the market, where things are more casual than in a restaurant or hotel or even a tour booking place, Richard becomes "Poppy" or "Papa" and I become "Mommy" - Really, we're walking along and some salesperson will say, "Look, I have the dress for Mommy" or "Here, this will fit Poppy." Weird, isn't it? At least, to two people who skipped the kid thing it feels weird!
The Ubud Palace is up the road near the market - we didn't visit it today, but I'm sure that's one of the things we'll do before we leave this area. But you can see the craziness of the drivers!
We went to a little café/bakery for a bit of lunch, and ended up chatting with a British couple who are travelling the world, though they're heading home in December. But the afternoon thunderstorms started, and there wasn't much to do but wait out the downpours and chat with these people over some cold drinks and share stories along with a few pastries. Really, one of us would buy something and cut it into four and we'd all sample it. Then someone else would buy something, quarter it, and we'd try that. The rugby roll was a favourite - shaped like a rugby ball, a buttery cakey roll with chocolate chips and a melty chocolate center.
We talked to our hosts, and we have our room booked for a few weeks. We're enjoying Ubud and our quiet little sanctuary in the middle of the bustling city center, and will explore and experience this part of Bali before thinking about where else we might head.
Okay, I have a long line of photos at the end. I never know what to do with these, because my words actually show up for me beyond where the photos end. So, dear readers, please just look at the photos and don't worry that my words have run out. The beauty of Bali is best shared through the photos - you don't need me describing each and every object or place.