Hello Bali

We awoke to the sounds of roosters and other birds, and to mosquito bites. Wayan (why-ANNE) brought her quick smile and omelette breakfasts to our raised tile terrace. We looked on as she quietly performed a brief, delicate ceremony at a wicker offering box near our table, by placing down a small pile of banana leaves, flowers, and incense. With a quick flick of her wrist, she lightly sprinkled it twice with a flower she’d dip in water, stopping each time to show her palm, 2 fingers raised.

Our cottage shares its front terrace with the cottage next door, where Daniel is staying following a visit to Singapore for his family counseling practice. A soft spoken, kind man who was born in Taiwan, he now lives in…Daly City, not 10 minutes from our home in San Francisco.

The main street that we drove in on the night before is one of Ubud’s main arteries. All are narrow roads, barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass (or not). Ours is not even the busiest of these streets, but is quite bustling nonetheless. The constant whiz of motorbikes and traffic is irritating. The procession of cars and vans and large tourist buses is unavoidable. Meanwhile, the sidewalks are comprised of wide pinkish blocks of tile that cover the water tributary that flows hidden underneath-except for where these large chunks are missing, or broken. The level of the sidewalk can suddenly tilt upward or downward, and every other tile block  has a pair of steel handles to watch out for. There are just many things to trip on, which makes it a challenge to look up and around. Parked motor bikes and cars frequently block the sidewalk, forcing you into the road for certain stretches at a time -and you’d better look both ways before that first step. And trying to cross the street can be dangerous (there are no traffic lights or stop signs anywhere). You must be patient, but also decisive. It takes some time to understand that most of the drivers will accommodate anyone and anything.

The blocks are long in between the connecting main arteries. And they pack a lot in. Frequently, men sit alone or in groups, waving “taxi” signs, or calling out to us from across the street, while women sit on the stoops of their shops, offering massage or sarongs, or fans. Most have a nice smile for us, as we say no thanks. Pleasant young men and women, nicely dressed, stand in front of their restaurants, menus in hand. Tiny shops selling fabrics or cell phones are right next to stunning entryways for restaurants or hotels, many pushed far back off the street. Smaller restaurants -called warungs- or glass food stalls that cater to the locals and adventurous tourists, are sided up against spas or small excursion booths. Every one of these shops and businesses has an offering box in front, similar to what was on our terrace. Some are more festive than others, draped in yellow silk, or wearing a grass skirt. But all contain fresh, daily offerings of leaves, flowers, incense, scrolls, or candy. Small piles of these things are seen everywhere -not just in the boxes: on the sidewalk; on the seat of a scooter; on short walls and posts; on driveways; crammed into a thousand nooks and spaces. They are a lovely and vital reminder that we are in a place that is more than traffic and commerce.

Beautiful, mysterious, Hindu shrines and small courtyard temples of orange and grey stone, are also common along the street, but are almost lost amid all the rest. It’s not clear to us if these are public or private, so we sort of loiter and peek around a bit. But they are exotic and interesting, and we want to see more.

– matt

Matt's iphone 5-10-13 005

Matt's iphone 5-10-13 020


Matt's iphone 5-10-13 008

matts iphone 4-26-13 053

matts iphone 4-26-13 054

matts iphone 4-26-13 060


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Raphaelle McMahon
    May 10, 2013 @ 17:30:39

    Dear ones, These pix satisfied my curiosity about the entrances and also all the bikers. There seem to be many stop-and-reflect moments in everyday life, until of course one gets on the scooter. So, are you going to get on a scooter? Please let me know how you like to receive replies (like this one, or perhaps on straight e-mail). I leave for Portland to visit Richard and Phoebe on Sunday, May 12 for five days. It will be good to get out of town! I’m taking the train. I’ll be thinking of you, as I do every day. Thanks for the ongoing travelogue. Love, Raphaelle


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