Thursday, 14 February 2008

Hippies and heartbreak

Ubud was a breath of fresh air after the neon nastiness of Kuta/Seminyak - smaller, quieter, less hassle, incredible food (tofu-fest!) nicer people and shops, and surrounded by some absolutely beautiful countryside with rice fields as far as the eye could see.

We spent 4 days there, 2 of which were really good, and 2 really quite weird and stressful. You want to hear about the weird ones first? OK then: it basically all came down to a friend of Monica and Diana's. They met this guy, Ricky, a couple of days before we arrived there, and couldn't wait for us to meet him and spend some time together. So... we spent an evening and a day in his company, and he turned out to be quite annoying.

It all made for an extremely awkward dynamic between the 5 of us, which spoilt the otherwise awesome walk we did through the rice fields on Sunday. Monica and Diana really liked him, his hospitality, local knowledge, and connections, whereas we found him to be stiflingly over-generous and controlling.

Unfortunately this became an issue of contention between us and Monica, who decided to travel on alone for the rest of her time in Indonesia. A real shame, since we're good friends back in Amsterdam, and we were looking forward to hanging out with her in crazy exotic places. Let's hope it's all forgotten when we get back to Amsterdam: Monica's got a load of our stuff in her storage room :-s

The other two days featured an awesome Gamelan lesson for Ben at Pondok Pekak, where master Njoman Parman was amazed at my prowess on the Gangsa: "You must have computer brain!" After one hour I was pretty proficient at playing this lengthy tune called Gilak, while Njoman sat opposite me, getting busy with some nifty counterpoint on the same instrument. Cool! My ears were ringing by the end of it all.

And on Monday we visited the Monkey Forest Sanctuary - they have monkeys there! In the afternoon we headed to Bumbu restaurant for a 3 hour Balinese vegetarian cookery course. Ably demonstrated by Nengah, we learned how to make the basic spice paste - Base Gede - and cooked and sampled 6 dishes. By the end of the day we were so full of tofu and tempeh we could hardly move. Maybe eating that awesome lunch at Warung Igelanca just before showing up wasn't such a good idea...
Oh, and we also sent this Turkish dude a postcard from Bali. Why? Cos he contacted us via the Lonely Planet's excellent Thorntree, and asked us to. That's how we're livin', yo!

Right then, let's go to Java.

Ben

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