Salutations from Ubud, where Gonzo is presently mooching off a Mexican restaurant’s wifi (authentic, I know).
Since setting up camp in Lombok, life has been eventful. Let me fill you in in the most organizational manner I can provide for you…
- In sum, adventures here consisted of bonding with my most comical aunt, and the mamacita. Also, the original intent of the trip here was to check out my mum’s old stomping grounds when she was the leader of Canada World Youth (an exchange program, AKA the program that hitched my ‘rents… essentially I owe them a big one, or yours truly wouldn’t be alive).
- Went to the Sade Village. Members of the village still practice their age-old tradition of kidnapping potential wives, all in the name of love.
- Later, we went to Kuta Beach (which is not be confused with Kuta, Bali), where we spent a mere 10,000 IDR ($1.00 CAD) for a fishing boat to take us out to sea so I could swim in my undies and urinate in Lombok’s beautiful turquoise waters (I’m so sorry).
- Our driver (but I’d rather call him a homie) Zacky then drove us back to Senggigi, where my mama and auntie bought martabak manis/terang bulan (an extremely rich pancake from originally from the Middle East), while I pulled a classic Mir Mir manoeuvre and got masakan Padang bunkus (to-go).
- Spontaneously booked plane tickets for the three of us to head to Bali.
- Met family friends from Medan who run a pediatric centre in Lombok. Extremely friendly, and gave me jell-o. Yum.
- As luck would have it, the mother was fiercely struck with a stomach illness as soon as we landed in Denpasar (I should throw in that our plane getting there was hella old school – we’re talking propellers so loud I couldn’t even hear the flight attendants on the intercom, and luscious navy blue shagged furnishings – groovy, baby).
- But, typical Ria (my mum) was such a trooper and recovered the next day after being heavily medicated by prescribed antibiotics by another aunt back in Medan (who actually helped me quickly recover from a stomach flu when I was sick last year in Jakarta).
- Because of the present situation, we hectically jumped to reserve a hotel right on Kuta’s main strip. Felt like I was in rap video. Yo.
- In fact, this hotel was located right next to the surf school that me and bruv went to last year when we were in Kuta, and go figure: they remembered us! On a side note, you gotta appreciate how stoned the surfers look because of excessive exposure to salt water (or maybe it’s not the water…).
- Checked out Pasar Krishna, which is pretty much a crazy Costco/Tesco/whatever y’all have in your country of residence, but solely committed to Balinese souvenirs.
- Went to a Hard Rock Café for the first time, and surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed it: the live music was good, excellent stage present, and it was grand just watching my mum and her sister enjoying themselves.
- Mama and the aunt headed back to Medan after two nights in Kuta, while I stayed on the island, and found myself headed a bit further up north for Ubud.
- Before going to the homestay, the youngster who drove me took Gonzo to a sweet temple after swerving around the afternoon traffic that builds up as flights from everywhere land and provide travelers who crave the zen ambience of Ubud.
- After arriving at my homestay (Pondok Oka), I went for a long walk about Ubud’s centre with memories of last year’s travels with family and friends (awe).
- Went to Gianyar’s night market, which is all about the babi guling (suckling pig), which I passed on, but helped myself to some sayur pecel, tempe and papaya. PS: a lady I photographed last year who made me sayur pecel was in the exact same vending spot. Check it out the original photo here.
- Kicked off the morning with some pisang goring courtesy of the homestay and a tomato smoothie (so delish), and a morning chat with Agung, one of the gentlemen who runs the homestay.
- I’ll throw in this: the two guys – Agung and his nephew, Agung (no joke) – who run the homestay, are some of the most accommodating and happy folks I know. Not only did they provide a bike for me to ride free of charge (all about the savings, baby), but seem to take deep interest in the well-being of their guests.
- Went to Ubud’s art market to get some more souvenirs. But before delving into the art of the market, chilled outside with some new buds: a taxi driver and a parking guide, who initially didn’t believe my eyebrows were real. After gallivanting inside (and getting more remarks about the brows), hung outside again with the new pals, this time minus the parking guide (who was busy making it rain IDR directing motor vehicles), but ft. an toothless older gentleman, dressed in Balinese attire, offering body massages (what?).
- Found a rice field with a cement path and stairs that allowed me to enjoy leftovers from Gianyar smack-dab in the middle of the greenery. Best lunch I think I’ve ever had.
- Checked out the Balinese tradition of the Kecak dance (known as the monkey dance), which is followed by a fire dance, where a horse rider who is in a trance runs through hot coals. The horse (made of straw) carried by the rider and gamelan beats puts him in a trance that allows him to run through the coals. The function of this segment of the dance is to protect society from evil forces. Again, Agung’s hospitality was brought to the surface as he accompanied me and gave a lift to and from the performance.
- Finished off the day with a night bike ride to the most delicious Thai cuisine (and most expensive meal in Indo at a whopping $10.00 CAD) I’ve had: crispy fish and mango salad ft. vegan thom kau soup. One of the owners, Rata, left me with some words of wisdom, and although I can’t quote him word for word, it went a little something like this: “if we are happy today, our future is happy”. In sum, be happy everyday folks, and your future looks bright.
- Today, being my last full day in Ubud, I decided to treat myself to a spa day (damn, I feel like a Stepford wife). You know, a sore ass (from biking; get your mind out of the gutter) calls for a good ol’ massage. However, the spa, Bali Hati, makes pampering yourself a good deed for others. Their program functions to empower Balinese men and women through education, employment and health.
- We’ll see what the remainder of my stay in beautiful Ubud has for me. In the meantime, I leave you with a photo of the gents who have made my stay as excellent as it has been so far: