Thursday 15 July 2004 – Ubud, Bali
After breakfast I went for a lovely walk through the rice paddies that surround Ubud. It’s clearly a popular tourist route, is published in Lonely Planet and seems well-worn. Any local could point in the direction of the ‘Rice Paddy Walk’. Some groups, especially Japanese, even had guides.
It was beautiful none-the-less and I rattled off far too many photos. Farmers came over for a chat and offered fresh coconuts to drink. On the way back, the path passed a large workshop where preparations for a very big cremation ceremony were underway. I had previously seen signs of preparation at the main temple and a local had told me that a wealthy person had died and that the ceremony is on Saturday week, just after I go home. A pity I’ll miss it as it would be quite something to see. Far from being a sad occasion, apparently the ceremonies are joyous and the more people who join in to help the spirit of the deceased along on its way, the better.
I found the ‘Danger Art’ gallery of American artist Symon, who seems to have a particular interest in the male form. Life-sized statues of young men with full erections and paintings celebrated the beauty of the local youth. Some photographic works were quite interesting, but on the whole I couldn’t see any of it working in my living room.
Found a very up-market cyber-café and checked email. Cheap juice, but expensive surfing. Still – the bathroom was clean and that counts for a good deal.
I tried to book a cooking class at the well-known – and fully booked out – establishment of Australian hotelier (and later founder of the Ubud Writers Festival) Janet DeNeefe. However I’ve seen signs for other classes around town so will try one of them.
Found a terrific warung for lunch. From the street it looked very plain – cooking happening right on the street with a few small tables. But it looked clean & smelled good. One other westerner was seated inside. When I entered, the waitress took me right through the dining room to a lovely pavilion out the back, with cushions and low tables and a wonderful view over the rice paddy. The food was Thai-influenced and the chicken and mushroom soup was full of tomato, lemongrass, lime leaf, galangal, garlic, shallots, chilli and very good indeed. So good that I went back for dinner.
I spent the afternoon exploring the Monkey Forest. Had to beat off the hawkers who wanted RP10,000 for a small bunch of bananas to feed the monkey. I know from visiting the produce market earlier, where I bought a back of ‘snakeskin fruit’ (longans) for RP1,000 that this was ridiculous. Eventually I got them down to RP2,000. A couple of monkeys at the entrance were very greedy and aggressive and wouldn’t allow anyone to pass until they were given bananas, but most of the others were so full by that time of the afternoon that they couldn’t be tempted.
The forest was shady and cool and contained three temples. I borrowed a sarong and visited the largest, which was undergoing major renovations. The other two were much smaller, and both closed.
It was hot so I went back to the hotel for a swim. During dinner it began raining very hard, so after eating I ran back to the hotel for an early night.