Bali Day 4
Bali Indonesia Day Four
Corey and I made it after a very long 30 plus hours of traveling - our first stop after 11 hours was in Seoul Korea (beautiful airport) for 2 hours. Then another 6 hours to Singapore with a 9-hour layover in the middle of the night (we ended up getting a room at a hotel in the airport - very good idea). Finally, a two-hour flight to Denpasar(god, I can't believe that Denpasar is not in Word's spell check - I was going to do a project several years ago listing places not included in MS Word spell check - also companies not listed - still on the backburner). We arrived at noon, waited half an hour in line to go through customs, grabbed our luggage, got a taxi, and headed to Ubud. Ubud is in the south central part of the island. This is my fifth time to Indonesia (I've spent time on Bali each visit; the last was in November 2004). This is Corey's first time to Indonesia.
The trip from the airport to Ubud is about an hour or so, depending on traffic. When we arrived, we went straight to Agung Cottages, this is a homstay that I've stayed at since my first visit. It's quite beautiful with small temple buildings for each room (very traditional in Balinese homes). Our room is large with big windows that look out over a garden and the buildings nearby (one of the windows takes up almost the whole wall and slides open). We're paying $25/a night - more than it used to be, but the economy has suffered a good deal since the bombings so people here are somewhat desperate for the money and are quoting much hirer prices to begin with. We bargained down from $30/a night, but I really didn't want to push it past that since they've been such a nice place to come to here.
Something we didn't expect was the rain - it's generally gone by now. It rained all night our first night, and at dawn (6:00 am) it began pouring in Monsoon quantities. It was incredible - I jumped up and opened all of the curtains and windows and Corey and I laid in bed as the deluge (with thunder) hit - it was one of the most magical experiences I've had in Indonesia. It stopped after a couple of hours and then rained off and on all day as Corey and I walked through the town.
Corey caught on fast to the general culture/experience here - which is that it's a complete tourist culture. I likened it to the Las Vegas of Southeast Asia the first time I came here and wrote about it for stretcher.org. All of Corey's observations were very similar to mine. Though not to belittle the experience - it's fascinating to be a part of this hyper-intensified globalization and eco-tourist situation. And such the good tourists we've been: fine dining, massages everyday, cheap purchases of beautiful crafts and bootlegged Cds and DVDs, and hiring a driver to take us on a tour to temples etc. I feel conflicted about the whole thing - it's an extremely complex and common part of life in our current world. I did pick up a book by Richard Mann entitled "Plots & Schemes that brought down Soeharto," which I'm really looking forward to reading (Mann is a British political scientist and economist whose wife is Indonesian). It was written in 1998 right after the forced resignation of Soeharto (also not in Word spell check). When I was here last time I read John Hughes's "The End of Sukarno: a coup that misfired, a purge that ran wild." It was and excellent book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in contemporary Indonesian politics - it too was written during the forced resignation of then president Sukarno (for whom Soeharto replaced).
But on to some of my very favorite things about being here - I love, love, love the dog culture here - they're EVERYWHERE - and they're totally free and have their own world/lives going.
They barely acknowledge people and they're either planted on the sidewalk (or in the street), or they're running in packs having a ball. Many of them have mange and they're not in anyway pampered the way that American dogs are - and they seem happier - but who knows. I do know that I love watching them.
Another thing I love here is the deep attention to Hindu ritual and practice of making offerings twice a day - it's a nice reminder of being spiritually mindful.
I also love the slow pace - time does feel slower here and much less stressful, as a general consciousness. Today I am working on grants for my non-profit clients - in our room, though soon I'll head over to a café that's near the broadband internet place so that I can have close access to going on line for any research that I may need to do - and also to send documents to my clients and communicate with them. Corey is out on his own today exploring. More soon. Salamat.