Newsflash, I’m cheating again. I’m now in Indonesia and I’m taking a few flights around the islands instead of ferries. Best laid plans and all that. I only have 30 days on my visa and there was a fair bit that I wanted to see so I didn’t really want to waste too much time travelling. The ferry that the madventure team took from Singapore to Java took them 36 hours, during which they were fed fish heads and rice 3 times a day. I think I can cope with throwing away the no-fly plan to avoid that. Not to mention the fact that they only run once a week and… don’t have the most stellar safety record.
My first stop in Indonesia was Bali, where I somehow managed to avoid seeing any beaches. I was planning to see the group off in Kuta before their flight to Australia (they’ve started to joke that they can’t get rid of me now, but I promise, this is the last time I’m following them), but didn’t fancy spending a week there waiting for them to arrive. Kuta is basically the Khao San road of Bali, not really a place to linger, though it does have a pretty awesome water park. Instead I braved the local bemos (tiny, shove-everyone-in-the-back-of-a-rickety-rustbucket type buses) to go further inland to Ubud.
Bali is a tiny Hindu dot in a sea of Islam, so probably very different to what you can expect to see in the rest of Indonesia. Everywhere you look here you’ll see daily offerings of flowers or baskets made of lotus leaves and filled with petals, rice and sometimes small crackers. These are placed every single morning outside houses, shops, restaurants, on bridges, on cars and motorbikes – I’ve even seen people crouching down in the middle of the road to leave them at junctions. I also got fresh ones outside my bedroom every day which was rather sweet. I felt like I’d been personally blessed.
On my second day here I bumped into a surprise parade in the streets, to celebrate the new moon from what I could tell – seemingly the whole town in their best traditional clothes carrying offerings and decorated bamboo poles to the temple.
This photo was taken on the Campuhan ridge walk, a short easy walk just outside town through the rice fields, where I was watched by creepy statues and nervous lizards.
Ubud would be a great place to come shopping, so I was really feeling my lack of souvenir budget, not to mention luggage space. Amazingly you can walk down the main tourist streets and see shops that are selling DIFFERENT THINGS!! I was beginning to think that didn’t happen anywhere in Asia and all shops just bought their stock from the same warehouse. If you’re not shopping Ubud is a nice place to visit for artists as it’s full of art museums and galleries. Some of the museums and private galleries also hold classes in things like traditional painting, shadow puppets and woodcarving. I chose to take a day-long batik course. Batik is a fabric painting technique using wax resist to stop the dye from reaching parts of the fabric. There are two main type of technique to batik (I think my teacher said they were called cole and culup, but I didn’t ask him to write them down for me so I may well be wrong!). The fast version which we did on our course involves using wax to create all the outlines, then painting in the colours, similar to silk painting, before boiling away the wax. The slower and more traditional version involves more planning as you only wax the areas you want to stay white, then dye the whole fabric in your first colour, then wax the areas you want to stay that colour and dye again and so on in several layers. This takes an age, especially as the wax need to be applied on both sides of the fabric for a genuine batik design, and as the fabric needs to dry completely between each colour it’s obviously not suitable for a day course! Maybe next time then…
Unfortunately from the last night in Ubud onwards my camera started playing silly buggers and not saving any of the pictures I took, so I have no photos to post of the Balinese Legong dance performance, or the local temples, or tragically the guy selling live goldfish from the back of his motorbike. Along with the cow in a rickshaw in Bangalore and a French bulldog I saw on a motorbike in Ko Tao I’m building up quite a collection of amusing animals on bikes that I failed to get photos of. Oh well. I think it’s working again properly now, so fingers crossed there will still be thousands of photos to come.