Ubud, a historic town on Bali, in just a day taught me vast amounts about Indo’s fantastically multidimensional culture. Regrettably, I’m lacking the time to share what I learned! (I’m in Vietnam now and awaiting the arrival of a very special guest :)). Also, you’ve heard enough from me these last few days. For now, some photos to hold Ubud’s significant place in my travels until I can fill in the blanks.
My beautiful homestay: Nirwa, which overlooks a rice paddy. I can’t recommend this family-run place enough!
Ok Mom, stop reading here…
Seriously, not any further.
My mom, a physical therapist who has treated many motorcycle head injuries, made me promise many years ago that I’d never ride a two-wheeled motorized vehicle. It’s the only way to get around the island unfortunately, if you want to cover a lot of ground. When I spoke with the moto vendor, she asked whether I had driven one before. Yes? She looked at me like the inexperienced white girl I am. $5 is $5, though, so she gave me the keys and told me to be careful.
So off I lurched, driving a moto for the first time in my life, on the left side of the road — also a first. I successfully made it down the side street and around my first two turns until I came to a massive, deity-clad roundabout and proceeded…right through a red light! People laid on their horns, managing to just barely skirt around me, and cussed me out in more than one Indonesian language. Off to a great start, I deeply breathed. Then I noticed three officers standing in the roundabout — staring at me. My next thought was of Indonesian jail, or if I was lucky, a hefty fine. I was clearly not their priority, however, as they lazily leaned against the statute of the deity beneath the mid-day sun.
My priority was getting out of the city center to more naked roads. No such luck. I passed masses and masses of motos, the concept of lanes lost on everyone. Noticeably, I was pretty much the only white person driving a moto…and definitely the only white female. Lots of strange stares. Although that could have been my driving.
Eventually I tracked down some of the more famous temples, pulling over every so often to explore and learn a few things.
And a few other roadside temples:
Lastly, I swung by a monkey forest:
And found some other little monkeys:
That evening, Ubud’s community hosted its annual ceremony in which they cleanse the temple to restore harmony within. Over the course of the year, people bring bad energy into the temple so this ritual, which lasts several weeks and involves a procession to sea, serves to purify the holy space.
The next morning, Nirwa’s owner — a patient, kind, and hilarious soul who loves to laugh at his own jokes and blast Adele — drove me to the airport. Within an hour I learned heaps about his community — their belief in and commitment to the collective whole, how each person in the community has a responsibility and role to play, and why their divorce rate is so low (2 couples out of 300).
And then before I knew it, I was off to Hanoi.