Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September 13, 2008 - Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

During our sojourn in Ubud we've been staying a beautiful hotel called the Alam Jiwa. Our two bedroom villa is located on the edge of a rice field. We wake to the sounds of ducks quacking on the edge of the fields. Each morning the villagers use the stone aquaduct running next to our villa as a bridge to cross to the rice patties. In the afternoon they come back across, carrying giant bags of rice on their heads. Each day we return from our adventures in Ubud to spend the hottest part of the day relaxing by the pool, set in a lush, tropical garden. Between breakfast at the villa and afternoon tea by the pool, we haven't been looking for big dinners. But we've enjoyed going out in Ubud for lighter meals. In addition to Ibu Oka, we really enjoyed Three Monkeys on Monkey Forest Road and Cafe des Artistes on Jalan Bisma. We found Indus, part of the Casa Luna empire, to be overpriced and bland.
Alam Jiwa is no hermetically sealed resort. Its position on the edge of the rice fields insures that its guests are not isolated from village life. At times, we felt a bit awkward, enjoying such luxury as people around us work so hard to eek out a living. But, when I asked a local man if he minded all the development and so many rice patties being paved over to build villas, he said that he didn't mind at all. "As long as people keep coming to Bali, I don't mind." Tourism employs 75% of the people in Bali. When tourists stopped coming after the bombings a few years ago, things were pretty desperate here. But in the past few years, tourism has risen and the economy is on the rebound.
After working with a basalt mortar and pestle at our cooking class the other day, Sten decided that he needed one. He asked the chef where she gets hers. She directed him to the public market. So before leaving Ubud, we headed into the center of town and visited the market. Sten found his mortar and pestle (it is heavy! - in a pinch, we can always use it for a spare dinghy anchor), and Suzy found a little carved Buddha that made her smile. After they reported back on their transactions, it was clear that Suzy has gotten the knack for haggling; Sten, not so much.
We were browsing through a few shops on our way back to the car when Sten ran into Nick from Kika and his new crew, Ina. We almost didn't recognize Nick, who was sporting a fresh white shirt and a new pair of slacks. There wasn't a single engine oil stain to be found on either him or Sten - definitely a first. We made plans to meet up in a few days and headed our separate ways.

We returned Mata'irea, who was right where we left her on her mooring in Serangan harbor. We were pleased to see that the freezer and fridge had maintained their set temperatures and that the batteries hadn't been run very far down keeping them cool. The additional insulation that Sten added to the freezer in New Zealand has really paid dividends.

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