Hollywood meets Ubud....

Trip Start Jul 05, 2011
Trip End Jul 29, 2011

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Where I stayed
Darta's Homestay

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, July 14, 2011

... as evidence by the glittering new STARBUCKS in the center of town.... it appears that tourists have eat pray loved Ubud a little too much lately. And there are other signs of change since I was here last (about 2-3 years ago). Where there used to be more local shops on Monkey Forest Road, now there are more stores with glass fronts, smacking of a/c and tourist appeal. Now I don't know that it's the after-effects of the movie or simply a surge in tourism but I do see a sign offering the services of the "real" Ketut, Julia Roberts spiritual guide.

No doubt my favorite thing about Bali is the monkeys. And right adjacent to town is the monkey sanctuary....i make sure I get plenty of time in there....because they are soooo fascinating to watch...and when will I get the opportunity to be surrounded by monkeys again? So I'm dedicating this entry to the monkeys. I've only included still photos because it takes too long to download video but you can be sure I have plenty of video...just ask me and ill be happy to play them for you...that's when you get the monkeys at their best.

The monkey forest is swarming with monkeys. It's their territory...they're not shy in the least. They're looking to see what you brought in w you and they'll make it theirs if they want. Seems like these monkeys are most interested in food and water bottles...or any little surprise that might surface when a visitor puts their hand in their pocket. You kind of have to keep a 360 degree awareness while you're in there because they're stealth little creatures. They'll be on you in no time. So check out some of these faces in the photos....recognize anyone you know in there????

Ubud is all about the arts and spirituality. Lots of ex-pats that come here to meditate, immerse in yoga....find some sort of spiritual guide (which Bali seems to be pretty generous with), or to develop some form of artistic expression. Balinese are known for the things they make, their paintings, their wood carving, their sculptures, their dance and music....I don't know that I've seen such artistic expression concentrated in any other one area of the world. So my goal is to dabble and explore some of these forms of expression...maybe it'll allow me to better understand Balinese culture.

So I start w some yoga....and this perfect-bodied young man w a serene smile and an enchanting voice leads a wonderful yoga class and I'm sold...I've found my yogic self. Truthfully I've never been captured by yoga but if I found some of this guys energy back in the states, I'd be committed. But I'm at least committed here for a few more sessions. And then I decide to work w a silversmith...find out how it's done. I start off eyeing a piece that Id like to model mine after....but 3 hours later, I've got my own masterpiece....really nothing like the original. The teachers are patient and skilled...they guide in helping me find my silver-self.

New day...new taste delights and yes...a new class. This time it's water color painting. I figure that some day when I retire, Ill have time to explore all of these fringes of self further...but for now I get to dabble and see where my talent lies. I find Im pretty hypnotized by water color magic...turn out a great barong (again w supreme guidance from a master), Im less skilled at making offerings (tough to pull those pieces of palm together in any consistent geometric pattern...and they are sharp on the hands, and then there's the gamelan....a traditional instrument of Indonesia. Beautiful dream-like music....you hear it all over the place. Always reminds me of the song "Black and Yellow...." or for those of you not familiar, a gamelan orchestra kind of sounds like the intro to the Twilight Zone. It's a 5 note scale....not sure how those notes progress...it's such a new sound. And with concentration, I learn four songs....and my teacher makes me sound really good by accompanying....I'm thinking I've really impressed him w my musical aptitude...but of course, that's just his complimentary teaching. All of the teachers have been so cool and patient...yes, that's their livelihood ...but it still takes skill to make me feel like a true success....and I do.

And then there's my full day Balinese cooking class. I was reluctant at first... somehow choosing self- defeat before attempt...like, where will I ever get the spices...and Im over-hot already, do I really want to sit near a stove?, and will I even remember anything? Well, I wrote off those thoughts and dug in...and Im so glad I did. They even send you off w a detailed recipe book WITH substitutions so you can't miss. And I meet some delightful Australians...once again, so much for stereotypes...and we visit the market for our spices and prepare 8 different dishes....and get to eat all of them....a truly amazing day. What a ridiculous thing self defeat is. I have dreams of returning to NY and creating a Balinese feast for you all....at which I will not only display my art work but impress you with a few yoga poses as well.

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sherry chayat on

loved this entry! the photos are beautiful, and i can't wait for you to have a show at artrage!

Becky on

SO enjoying your adventures!! Thanks for keeping us all up to date . All's well on Delray Ave.

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