The irony is that the three of us got quite a bad cold. So predictable. The drastic changes of temperature and the airco overdose did their job and put all of us to test. I would laugh if my head wouldn’t hurt so bad. For some reason, Andrei seems to be hit the hardest, he is convinced he will die after a few hours that he is not sweating anymore (!).
Taking a shower, a caloric breakfast (yes meanwhile I got my breakfast – a combination of European breakfast with noodles), stuffing some aspirin and we pretend that all is good. Another day in paradise!
Against the odds we spend the day out and we have a blast. The island is full of (Australian) hipsters hence all the great eateries (ha!) and coffee places you can imagine. Starbucks has an establishment even here and I can confirm (even though I was hesitating to go there, I desperately needed a coffee!) – the location is absolutely fabulous and I don’t regret going. In the backyard they have the so called Ubud Water Palace:I have noticed that the Balinese people are very superstitious. They believe that faith has a link with anything; all the little things are a sign of some ancestral plot for good luck. Who am I to argue?
However, a very odd symbol is a wooden carved penis. As most Balinese population are Hindus, in the religion, the penis represents the supreme god, Shiva Linga. It seems that men used to wear these penis charms around their necks to ward off spirits and bad luck!
Another striking habit for the foreigner eye, is the offerings made to their gods at every corner or entrance – I still haven’t figure out the system, if any, or the timing; it looks like they work on the little offerings all day long.We continue exploring Ubud and his finest eating places and we discover an absolutely hipster location – on a little street parallel with the old market: Juice ja coffee. We have a banana cake to die for, and see the most ridiculous presentation to serve natural fruit juices, tough I must admit it was a delicious blend of mango, banana and papaya that made my day:Roaming further we discover the coffee heaven. Argue all that you want, coffee comes primarily from Java. Here, they have this special coffee that we have been reluctant to try initially but we give it a try anyway. The Luwak coffee is processed via these little adorable animals, to get a special “fine” aromatic blend. I can only say that I wasn’t impressed with the taste (I have tried the one coming from the wild Luwaks, which is supposed to be stronger and bitter in taste; the other type of coffee is blended via Luwaks held in captivity, the strengh should be somewhat milder and taste sour); interesting anyway. To be continued, we are not done with Ubud yet.
We reach Ubud close to midnight (local time). Trying to keep up with all those changed hours and time zones: I tried really. All I know is that my body and brain are confused as hell: sleeping during day, awake during night, shifting planes, airports, taxys; you name it. I don’t fight it yet it’s stronger than me. So I find myself at 4:30AM so hungry, dreaming about breakfast.
I divagate here (to be noted that I am still hungry when writing this post, you cannot blame me, at least you had your Christmas feast(!) – admit it, you still feel guilty about it now). So arriving at this amazing location booked via airbnb our host (receptionist) was very nice to us, noticed that “you look very tired” and gave us a welcome drink – not in as alcohol but orange juice. To be noted that alcohol here is exorbitantly expensive and cheap as quality -compared with anything else around home.
Already from arrival at the airport you can notice the difference from Jakarta- it is actually cleaner and there are plenty of touristic spots and commercials that hurt my eye such as McDonalds. Also a lot of kitsch Christmas trees and quotes from the already famous “live, love, pray” or something. However, our place is relatively far from the Center and, as any good tourists, we think we are better by avoiding the commercial area. Ubud is simply fabulous. Words are not enough to describe the island. I can easily understand why is renowned to this scale. People are equally nice and helpful, even tough, most of the time we only think we understand each other. It’s ok: we all speak human. Mostly the monkeys that have a thing for Andrei. We have visited the temples; the monkey forest and we are roaming the old city and the old market; we stop often for a drink, the heat is almost unbearable but we enjoy every second. And we tried the fruits from the locals selling on every corner the delicious wonders.
The one inconvenience is the transport. The traffic, while better than Jakarta, is still heavy and it looks like none of us is up for driving around. So we rely on the hotel that is having a shuttle for people like us (tourists). And since I am complaining I have to mention the mosquitoes – none of the anti repellents we use, actually works. So we got plenty of mosquito bites hoping for the best. All according to the plan. Namaste!
Coming out of the plane I feel the familiar heatwave and sticky air that I actually enjoy after all the freezing air con used generously around these places. Is very warm and a filter of sweat with dust is filling immediately every pore of my skin. Taking a taxi to our hotel, the traffic is not disappointing us. A hectic mix of cars, Vespas, and people that are carrying various activities on the side of the road is making our trip worthy. We pass a slum neighborhood on our way to the hotel: exotic fruits that look like figues with a snakeskin, all sorts of exotic fruits that I cannot name are sold everywhere and pretty much everything you can imagine on the open air stands, deep fried food or strange looking impossible to identify items. The tiniest children with their bare feet on the sidewalk eating, crying or watching us curiously, young men, old men, a skinny cat looking like she didn’t have food in months – all these in an impossible amalgam of colors, smells and noise that cannot be ignored. In the background, you can hear the inimitable praying mosques that give this place a very particular and charming identity. All the way to the hotel (about 45 minutes) is all the same. yet very different. I have noticed people eating on their Vespa, making selfies (with a selfie stick obviously), even sleeping. We are a bit afraid where our hotel would be. All I want is a shower and a proper bed. After several stops of our driver asking indications about the hotel address(panic!), we are finally here (Tangerang). It is luxury compared to the background, we actually have a huge room and a big shower (with moderately warm water, remember it’s very hot) and we have a proper dinner. Something that was supposed to be vegetarian: a sort of soup with seafood and chicken, not a bad mix with rice.
Yes, we are in Asia. The place that cannot be mistaken for any other, the inimitable and unique land of mixed cultures, the melting pot where everything is possible. Nice to meet you Indonesia.
This is the start post of a series that will not blow your mind or teach you how to travel.Nor give you precious indications of what to avoid eating while in Asia. I started to travel long time ago, turns out that I never do it right according to the trillions of travel advisors on the Internet.
This is not meant to show you how to pack effectively or to be efficient during your perfectly organised trip (see my instagram worthy picture with a nice touch of random indispensable items needed). I don’t have a backpack, I had to borrow one from a professional traveling friend (to whom I thank and I will forever be in debt since probably I ended up ruining the most professional looking backpack). Looking at it: it has so many pockets and so many compartments that i will, most probably, forget about items that i have deposited in one place or another, ending up buying a lot of useless sunscreen/bugs repellents/ear buds etc.
I have also borrowed this great guide about Indonesia that I bothered to open once – turns out that guides must be read before or during your trip. But reading about it, will not make your experiences second hand experiences? So I decided to skip reading it, but: I will just carry it around with me and be annoyed of the weight and because it takes up so much space in my luggage. At least it looks like i am a PRO.(thank you to my other friend who borrowed me this beautiful book illustrated with impossible stunning scenery of my upcoming trip).
Mind you, the trip will only start on the 24th of December, this is just a “teaser” (smart he?) to raise your interest about the nonsense that I’ll be writing here for a limited time.