My Month in Bali Continued – Once Again!

OUCH!  You would think that when you are in the kitchen using sharp objects you would maintain a bit of caution and care. Never gonna happen.

While visiting friends and assisting with the preparation of scalloped potatoes using for the first time an extremely sharp mandoline slicer – without the hand guard – I became more involved with the conversation than the potato slicing and left the entire side of my right thumb in the bowl with the taters!  Yes, it was a mess and took lots of cold water, ice, tissues and over 30 minutes of holding my arm up over my head to stop the flow of blood.

But the excuse I have for not continuing the saga of my time on Bali as promised was the complete inability to type with a huge wad of bandage wrapped around said thumb for almost a month!  And then house sitting and visiting with friends interfered with my writing time.  But today is the day I share with you in words and MANY photos some of the other interesting and wonderful things I saw and did during my time on this small, South Pacific island.

First, the huge market that is located in the middle of Ubud.  It opens at 5 a.m. until 3 p.m. and sells everything from shoes to nuts – as well as veggies and flowers, eggs, fish, meat, knives, spices, kites, clothes – in other words almost anything you need.

Flowers for offerings
Fresh? sardines
Need eggs?
Flattened chicken?

It’s colorful, amazing, loud and so dirty and smelly.  I almost landed on my rear several times as the cement floor is covered with decades of dirt and slime and when it rains, which can be daily, it becomes like glass.  I loved going before the sun rose to watch the locals make their daily purchases, try and figure out what exactly the strange fruits were and laugh at the bargaining between sellers and buyers in their LOUDEST voices.  I spent many happy hours wandering through this massive marketplace.

Wandering through Ubud your eye is drawn to the little things that make it so special and different from what we are used to –  like this welcoming statement above spelled out in fresh flowers as you enter a restaurant.

Or how about 100’s of wild monkeys grabbing at you or just sitting on the curb? Ubud has the well-known Monkey Forest almost in the middle of town.  The inhabitants are numerous, curious, nasty, mean, photogenic creatures. The tourists continue to feed them and then are totally surprised when they are attacked.  Their purses, cameras and whatever else the monkeys find interesting are ripped out of their hands while they are scratched and sometimes bitten.  I took a wide path around The Forest whenever possible as I had no desire to get close to these very large (did I mention smelly?) creatures.

Weird stone faces and serene and very green rice paddies were part of my daily scene.  I loved the intricately carved and painted doors and large displays of plastic pink chickens adorning the entryway into this lovely home.  I’m guessing it’s Bali’s answer to our ‘pink flamingo-ing’ a yard for birthdays or graduations.

I attended an all-day batik painting class given by a Javanese master.  His work was breathtaking (yes I purchased one of his silk scarves!) and gifted my granddaughter Stella with the elephant I waxed and dyed during my day of creativity!

I also took an all-day photography workshop.  We (myself, a British couple and our guide/instructor) started out at 4:00 a.m. so we could be out in the country to watch the sun rise over the island’s highest mountain.  It was misty and oh, so beautiful.  From there we went back to the Purification Temple then to a village market.  The British couple had only signed-up for 1/2 day so I got the wonderful Gusti for the rest of the day. He promised me a ‘surprise’ after lunch if I were up to ‘something different.’  Of course, I said yes, and was treated to getting to attend the wedding of a very wealthy Balinese couple – something most Westerners never get to see!  I took lots photos, learned more about how my camera works and had a wonderful time!

During the month I was in Bali, there were not an inordinate amount of festivals – probably just 15!  It seemed that every day these gentle people were celebrating something or giving praise to another of their Hindu deities.  I was invited once again by my host and his family to attend a celebration, this time held on the beach, which was a blessing for their ‘suburb’ of Ubud.  They flocked to the seaside in the truck-loads and scooters by the dozens.  They got dressed-up for the celebration, making even bigger offerings to their God.  The same priest officiated (this was the 3rd ceremony I had seen him officiate).  He was one busy man!

One of the strangest and largest celebrations was when the Ogah-Ogah’s came to rid the village of all the bad things that had accumulated during the past 6 months.  After a day and night of these massive paper-mache monsters (created by the men) terrorizing the evil out of town, the next day was spent visiting with friends and relatives ‘making amends’ for anything nasty you might have done, said or thought about them in past 6 months.  I cannot even imagine what a small child might think when seeing an Ogah-Ogah for the first time.  I know my mouth dropped open and I just stared in wonderful disgust!  As you can see, it takes 30-50 persons to parade these monsters through the town.  And yes, they do sometimes tip over as they are incredibly heavy!

One of the 3 places I had on my ‘must see’ list while on Bali was the John Hardy workshop and showroom.  John Hardy is an American jewelry designer who came to Bali in the early 1980’s and taught the locals how to make his designs using silver with touches of gold and gems.
John Hardy Showroom
Design Studio
 I signed up for the tour of the grounds to not only see his work but also view the famous showroom designed by his architect daughter, Elora.  As you can see from the photo above, it’s like a strange and magnificent object, not a building, rising out of the rice paddy’s
Elora founded Ibuku,  based in Bali, where she designs and constructs structures made entirely out of bamboo.  They are completely eco-friendly and sustainable.
John and his wife, Cynthia founded, and Elona designed the buildings at The Green School.  This international school  is open for children from around-the-world and offers over 20 scholarships each year so Balinese and Indonesian children can also attend.  With grades from kindergarten through 12, offering a totally open-air education, the opportunity to tour the school and see the architecture was what interested me most.
Even the chairs, tables and built-ins are made of bamboo.  The children maintain a large garden used for the school’s kitchen.  They learn conflict/anger management by having mud-fights in one of the ponds.  They even learn to fish in the river that runs through the property.
From the school, we toured the actual factory where we shown how raw bamboo is harvested, dried, treated for bugs, then prepared to be used in these amazing structures.

Next, it was off to The Green Village – a community of some of the most amazing houses I have ever seen!  These are owned by some very well-know celebrities who visit their Bali houses maybe once-a-year!

Let me start by telling you that there are no windows – or screens.  The houses have these really cool swinging, oval glass doors, but otherwise they are totally open to the air and the elements.

Entry to The Green Village
One of the houses rising over the trees
Love the swing teardrop door!
Living room.  The cone things are storage units.
Lovely bedroom with hammock daybed
Great view out the wide open kitchen window
The pool on the lowest level next to rushing river
Custom toilet paper holder
Wow! ceiling design
A guest house – I would move in immediately!

Several of these house designs can be bought as ‘kits’ and shipped anywhere in the world.  They not only come with everything you need for a complete house, including furniture and built-ins,  they also come with a crew of workmen who know bamboo and assemble your house for you!

I couldn’t figure out where in the US you could put one of these houses.  Not only do you have the problem of bugs flying in the windows and no options for air conditioning or heating, there is the issue of safety!  I did raise that very question to our tour guide who told me The Green Village has a staff of 20 security guards who patrolled on a 24/7 basis.
The  last, really fun and delicious thing I did 2 days before leaving Bali was participate in a cooking class at the  Paon Bali Cooking School.   Our group of 15 (from the US, Britain, Australia and China)  ‘embarked on a culinary adventure unlocking the secrets of authentic Balinese cooking, utilizing traditional ingredients and preparation methods in a fully-equipped community kitchen.’  
Our hostess and chef, Puspa, for many had been the head chef in several of the island’s top restaurants before building a large industrial kitchen on the backside of the family home.  It is here that she and her husband  and a staff of helpers welcome groups of 15-20 for 4-hour classes two times each day.
Each morning tour begins at the Ubud market where your guide shows you some of the unusual fruits, vegetables and spices you will be using during your class.

We found when arrived at Puspa’s lovely home after our tour of the market a long table was filled with plates of all the ingredients for each of the many dishes we would be preparing that morning.

And yes, we actually did the cooking – with the assistance of Puspa’s kitchen helpers!  We ground the spices in a large lava mortar with a huge wooden pestle. Made curry paste (Hot!)  We chopped lots of vegggies. We make small meatballs and cooked them in coconut oil.  We wrapped a shrimp mixture in palm leaves to steam and made skewers of chicken sate’.
Grinding spices

Sate cooking over charcoal brassier

And then we got to sit down and enjoy our hard work!  We also got a small cookbook with printed copies of the recipes for all the dishes we had made. These will certainly get a lot of use!

After 31 days, it was time to depart Bali and return to the States to meet my two new grandsons that were born while I was away.

It was a full day and night of long flights.  Bali to Hong Kong, then a 5 hour layover before the even longer flight to Los Angeles.  What made it almost enjoyable was watching 6 first-run movies between the 2 flights (I don’t sleep well on planes) and being invited by the young couple, who were sitting next to me from Bali to Hong Kong, to join them in the Premier Lounge during our layover.  They told the staff I was their mother!  How much nicer upholstered chairs, dim lighting, free food and drink, and wifi is than spending those long hours in the middle of the night either wandering the brightly lit concourse or sitting on hard plastic seats!

So after 11 months spent traveling throughout Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia, I’m home.  I will try really hard to do one more post on all the places I have visited and house and pet sat since I returned  – before I leave for Mexico in just 2 weeks!

Unit next time…….


3 Replies to “My Month in Bali Continued – Once Again!”

  1. Great description of all the fun things you did while in Bali. I know how hard it can be to condense so many things into a manageable narrative. Nice job! and happy travels!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: