The last day on the Lombogongan island was windy and raining. The worst weather yet on this trip. I was going to snorkel but the conditions didn’t look good in the morning. So I rented a motorbike and cruised around a bit. First time in like 15 years or something riding a scooter I think, so I was a little cautious. I went around some of the more mellow streets, but it started raining, and I was going up this steep, wet, pothole-filled road and not feeling a lot of confidence, so I turned around and went to the beach for a little bit and hung out. Then the rain started coming down a little harder, so I went back to my hotel.
Definitely a learning experience. I may do the motorbike thing again, and it’s kinda fun, but I think the risk-reward ratio isn’t high enough for me to make a habit of it here.
So, from about 10:30-1:00, it was just a matter of waiting for the transport to the boat back to Bali. Another crazy truck ride back and the boat back was surprisingly smooth considering the rain.
I also temporarily “re-united” with my former travel partner Elisa and her and I and another girl from North Carolina got a taxi to Ubud from there. Lots of traffic but it was about an hour drive.
Ubud is the “spiritual center” of Bali, and where one of the big celebrations for their New Years (Nyuppi) takes place. It’s also been popularized by the book that like 99% of chicks have read “Eat, Pray, Love”, where part of it takes place.
I compare Ubud to an upscale part of Berkeley- (or OB if you’re in San Diego). Lots and lots of retail shops, many of them high-end.
I grabbed a hotel not too far from the main street, overlooking a rice field. I liked the feel of this place right from the start.
The next day I took off on a walk. I cleared the whole main strip in about 20 minutes! Kinda boring to me. So I took a turn off on another street and stopped to look at my book to see what else there is. This girl asked me if I knew how to get to the rice fields or something…I said I had no idea but that sounds good! So we took off together and found this path that led us out of town and into a rural area with row after row of amazing green rice fields. Raffaella is from Italy and knows English but doesn’t always understand my “American English”!
So the sign on the path said 2km, but we were walking for a while and not seeing a turn around point. We then stumbled upon this art store with a painter selling his “Egg Art”. The most amazing little paintings on these wooden eggs! The guy has almost no foot traffic, is probably the best artist in the world at painting eggs, and makes almost nothing. Anyway he was a really nice old man and we looked around his shop for a while, and for the first time we didn’t feel pressure to buy anything. Also, he was the first blue-eyed Balinese I’ve seen.
So the little walk down the path turned into a hike on rolling hills, and now we found ourselves on a narrow road with no sidewalks and cars and motorbikes whizzing by….and it was pretty hot and we were both getting really hungry! One of those days. We asked at several places on the road side how far it is back to Ubud. NOBODY understood English! The best we got was “Ubud!” With the finger pointed in the direction of town. It was pretty funny because we kept trying different ways to ask the same thing:
“How many kilometers?”
“How many meters?”
I think the grand total we walked was about 3 hours. I got a little sunburned…the Nora Goreng I had for lunch when we got back never tasted so good! I added an Avocado-Choco juice just for good measure too. 🙂
That night I went with Raffaella to this ceremonial dance presentation (“Kecak” dance). It’s one of those local things kind of like what they do in Hawaii, that pretty much only makes sense to locals. Well, it was off the charts ridiculous! Dozens of these guys sitting in a circle chanting “Chaka chaka chaka chaka” for 1.5 hours with the occasional dancing monkey, or monster, or king, or pretty girl coming into the middle and then leaving. This went on forever. Then they cleared out and brought out a bunch of coconut shells and lit them on fire. This guy comes out with a silly horse costume and starts stomping all over the flaming coconut skins! This took a good 20 minutes. We were just amazed at how silly this whole thing was….but it was one of those “it’s so ridiculous that it’s funny” kind of things.
The next day, I moved out of my hotel and into a better and cheaper one (with a pool), partly because the following day is Nyuppi, where nobody is allowed on the streets! So were kind of all stuck in our hotels.
Anyway, last night was the big celebration. The center of town was filled with these huge monster puppets. Many of these puppets apparently took months to build, all for this one night. The puppets range from looking completely ridiculous, to funny, to scary, to…pornographic! I think my pictures will do better justice to the latter description than for me to explain it. 🙂
The kids were divided up into groups. One by one, each group took there puppet out into the street, where they performed chants and dances. Then they took off down the street with their puppet, parading through town. This went on a LONG time. We finally got kinda bored and left for a cafe, a beer, and call it a night…but not before running into several groups of young men lighting off fireworks that exploded like bombs. These were probably M-80’s or cherry bombs, but they are completely annoying, and we couldn’t figure out what pleasure people could possibly get out of just experiencing ear drum-rattling bombs going off every 10 minutes!
So today is new years day, and it’s “Silent Day” and I’m stuck here at my hotel until tomorrow morning. It’s a very strange tradition. What happens if I leave my hotel? Supposedly, an armed police officer would quickly usher me back to my hotel. Most people here just abide by tradition and don’t do a lot of questioning. I’d like to do a full analysis of the Hindu religion, but I’ll save that for another day when I have more info and energy to delve into this fantasy world!
If I ever get internet today I’ll post this. Otherwise, it’s just another typical wifi experience, where it “kind of” works.
Yesterday I booked my flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket on April 14th, and today I’m going to start reading up on Thailand a bit…since I have all day!
p.s. I had a banana pancake for breakfast this morning and it was amazing