Oz and the Big Lap travel blog

7 July - Bali - Ubud

Up very early, Carolyn loaded the car while we cleared up and we set off to the airport. Arrived in good time, checked in and spent an hour sitting at the gate. We were a bit overloaded so didn't bother with the duty free. Flight was comfortable enough and uneventful save for a little brat who yelled at the top of his voice every few minutes.

Arrived at Denpasar Airport, eventually we cleared immigration and customs and were met by the driver from the hotel. It was hot and very humid. We packed into the car and set off into the very heavy traffic. It must have taken an hour and a half to reach the hotel in Ubud, only 37km away, and it rained as soon as we started. It was built up all the way, one town merged into another, no sign of any rice paddy, for which the area is famed.

Checked in to Bebek Tepi Sawah, our hotel for the next three nights and went for afternoon tea by the pool, still raining! A beautiful setting with lush tropical vegetation, deity statues, all with flowers on them, little offerings in front. Bebek is the Balinese for duck and there were duck statues, large and small, everywhere. Booked a silver jewellery making course in Ubud. Disappointing dinner, crispy duck, their signature dish, at the better of the two hotel restaurants. Very loud frogs in the vegetation alongside the paths by the rooms. Watched some tennis then went to bed. Still raining.

8 July

Still raining this morning, pathways flooded on the way to breakfast. Breakfast ok. Caught the hotel shuttle into town, traffic still horrendous and it was still raining. We walked along to the Palace, some beautiful stone carvings but generally pretty run down and dirty. Only a limited area open to viewing. We did buy tickets to the Balinese traditional dance show to be held this evening. On to the museum but time was pressing for our silver workshop so we retraced our steps and walked up (it was all uphill!) the Jalan Swiredari for about 15 minutes, in the pouring rain before we reached the workshop.

Spent a happy couple of hours there, Ruth made some simple but beautiful earrings. Working in silver was harder than it first appeared but the people were very friendly and helpful; they did a lot of the intricate or specialised work. We met a couple of Australians who had been on a batik course the day before and on seeing photos of their work Ruth decided she'd like to have a go. So we booked for tomorrow! All too soon we finished, paid the man and walked back down the hill to find somewhere to eat. It was still raining! Ruth had found a suckling pig restaurant, Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka, in her searches on the internet, but it was a bit of a walk, back past the Palace and down a narrow alley. We had the 'special' which was various bits of pig, some rice and vegetables. The food was pretty ordinary, not sure how it came so highly recommended, but it was very busy. It was now 3 o'clock and the dancing wasn't until 7.30 so what to do? Well, the rain had eased some so we decided to walk along to the Monkey Forest to see the sacred monkeys. We hadn't gone far when the rain poured down. We went into a few shops and the market and bought one or two things before giving up on the monkeys and headed for a bar.

Had a beer and checked the internet, then some snacks and another drink. Had a long chat with one of the managers of the bar, a delightful young lady keen to practise her English. Ok it was now 6.30, time to head for the dancing! It was still raining but we didn't have far to go. The 'theatre' was filling up quickly, I saw two seats by the centre aisle and grabbed them. The place soon filled up, extra chairs arrived and there were still people standing by the start of the performance. The 'Legong Dance' was very stylised and structured, it told stories from ancient legends, accoding to the little pamphlet we got with our tickets. The costumes were opulent, very rich colours, lots of silk and gold. The music was strange to western ears but it was played well by the little orchestra. It was all over in an hour and three quarters and we had thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Walked back to our pickup point to wait for the shuttle; it had finally stopped raining, back to the hotel and the extremely noisy frogs. Bed.

9 July

Very noisy night, the frogs must have closed in on us! The rain had stopped and the sun was trying to break through the clouds, warm and humid. Breakfast and then to reception to await the car for the Batik Class. We were taken up into the foothills (of the volcanoes) behind Ubud to the studio. Nice and light and airy, lots of examples of what could be done. We were taken through the process and then shown a pile of templates we could use if we did not want to design our own. So, template chosen, we had to trace it onto a sheet of white cotton, in pencil, and then trace the pencil lines with wax using a special tool. Then the paint/dye was applied.

Having chosen a design we duly traced and waxed but were both hesitant to commit colours to the outline, but we had a lot of guidance. We were given practice pieces at each stage before we tackled our masterpieces. We were grateful for the lunch break as the work required a lot of concentration. By three o'clock we had completed the pieces and waited for the colours, some of which were light sensitive, to dry.

The batiks were placed in a colour fixer for a few minutes, rinsed then dropped into boiling water to,remove the wax and then rinsed again. The change in the colours was magical, suddenly they became strong and vibrant, just wow! Once they dried again, they were folded neatly and we were taken back to our hotel. What a brilliant but tiring day, so much concentration needed to follow the lines, we just collapsed into our chairs!

We might have dozed a bit, but struggled up to use our high tea voucher at the hotel restaurant. It was surprisingly good, probably the best meal we had there. A nice selection of savoury and sweet with a large pot of jasmine tea, each!

Back to our room, packed, watched some Wimbledon then bed.

10 July

A more leisurely start, the frogs must have moved on as we had had a quiet night. It was not raining and we had glimpses of the sun during breakfast. We wandered around the local area, the road was still very busy, almost continuous streams of traffic, noisy and smelly. There were several shops selling wood carvings, ranging from small tabletop pieces to huge statues, plus a couple of furniture shops, bike repairs, locksmith but many empty shops. All covered in road grime. We headed back and cut into a little lane that was purely residential, much quieter with a lot of beautiful tropical plants and trees and the obligatory shrines and little temples all along the road. There had been a festival to celebrate the full moon on Saturday, and many places were still decorated.

We returned to he hotel, wandered around what looked like a temple, lots of gold leaf, which was still under construction. Up to our room to get our things together for the drive to Amed. The driver was a little early so we got away in good,time.

We were disappointed with Ubud, we found it crowded, dirty and jammed with traffic. It probably didn't help that it rained for most of our stay there, but we wouldn't recommend it. The market was ok, but very cramped, the stalls were jammed in but the people were friendly. The hotel, Bebek Tepi Sawah, was ok. The setting was beautiful, lush tropical plants and trees, a couple of small rice paddies, lots of statuary and the rooms were good, they were let down by the food which was pretty ordinary and well below what one might expect.

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