Well, we have been in Bali for four nights – almost as long as the time in immigration! We have shopped, drank, eaten, drank, toured, drank, swum, drank and drank. Greg and Chan, friends from Shanghai, have joined us for the first few days, and it has been under their careful guidance that we have explored Bali.
To begin, a short explanation of Villa Sukapadi. Each morning our pembantu arrives to cook breakfast for us. It is either Made (pronounced Maday), Sera (Sara) or Aris. They are all very delightful women. After breakfast they clean the place, do our laundry and let us relax. The villa is owned by Charles and Laurence. He is from San Francisco and she is from Paris. They met here about twenty years ago, fell in love, got married and stayed. We spent a pleasant evening with them last night over wine and nibblies. Below are some photos of our villa. Their home, which is adjacent to the villa, is more spectacular.
Now, about Bali. Interesting place. We went to a traditional Balinese restaurant the other night. They had good food and lots of traditional dance entertainment. These kids were right around 6 years of age. They were very good – especially since the dance went on for almost 10 minutes and they knew the entire thing. Very impressive.
Bali is also full of scooters and motor bikes and some cars. Our driver yesterday told me that there are 4 million motorcycles on the island – and I believe it. We came back from Ubud (pronounced Oooboood) around 4:30 and there were packs of 20 or 30 of them every 30 seconds or so. It was amazing. They are in and out of the traffic constantly. I was waiting for some kind of accident or eruption of road rage but nothing.
How’s the traffic? Well the driver told us we were about 10 kms from the villa and it would take us about an hour! He lied – traffic wasn’t too bad – only took 45 minutes. When we went to Ubud, it took 2 1/2 hours – 30 kms.
On our way home the other night three of these trucks went by – the first two had even more workers in them – they were packed in there like sardines.
Bali is 70% Hindu and these little things are all over the place. The are offerings to the gods to bring people good luck and are replaced everyday. You find them on the street, on sidewalks, in doorways of shops and anywhere else people might like – car dashboards, for example.
Near Ubud is an interesting coffee plantation. We had been asking our driver to stop so we could get some coffee – but he was on a mission to get us to this place. Years ago, the Dutch took all the good coffee back to Holland so the locals were left with the scraps. The civet eats the coffee berries and then poops them out. The locals then clean them all off and process them. The beans themselves are triple coated so the beans themselves are never in touch with anything undesirable. We had a cup each – $5.00 plus a “complimentary” variety of 9 teas and coffees – ginger, vanilla, mangosteen, lemon grass to name a few. The coffee was a little gritty – and quite honestly we didn’t think it was worth what they were charging.
In Ubud is the Monkey Forest, where you can pay to go in and see the monkeys or not pay and stand on the street and see the monkeys on the street, on the electrical/phone wires, roofs etc.
Eat, Love, Pray – the Elizabeth Gilbert book /Julia Roberts movie was filmed near Ubud. Apparently after the movie came out, Ubud was besieged with Julia Roberts wannabes.
(Ed. note: Bali-Hai is the local beer.)