Heeeelllloooooooo Ubud. I'm sitting on our little patio with a beautiful mini waterfall next to me, overlooking a very lush garden at our Airbnb in Ubud, Bali. They gave us the Rama + Sita room, which is my favorite thing in the whole world.
From Jogja we flew to Denpasar, Bali, and then took a taxi to Balian, a small quiet beach on the Southwestern coast of Bali. We found Balian via a random Google search for nice surf beaches in Bali; our main goal was to find surf for David and to not be in a 'tank top tourism' place like Kuta, which is a popular surfing spot on the south coast of Bali.
We grabbed a taxi from the Denpasar airport, and Google Maps told us it would be 1.5 hours to travel the 47km/28 miles to Balian. It ended up taking us 3 hours. The traffic chaos we've experienced in Indonesia is endless, it seems. Bali island doesn't seem to have any freeways. It's 2 lane roads the entire way; winding and passing and beeping and and stopping and waiting and starting and winding.... you get the picture. I must add though, that the beeping and traffic here is in some ways better than in the US; people don't get upset. The beeps are short, happier alert beeps, like, 'hey I'm going to pass you on your right beep,' not 'get the FU** out of my way!' long beeps that we often encounter in the US. People here are patient, and relaxed, and seem to accept the traffic situation. We're all in it together, even when a motorbike pulls a dangerous move to pass in between 2 cars while rounding a sharp curve. The driving style requires a collaboration, and a flow; you have to be fluid and move with the environment around you, rather than focusing on only your lane and your car and your traffic light. It's beautiful, in some ways :)
Once we got to Balian we basically spent 4 days doing this:
We left our hotel once, to go to a restaurant up the street that wasn't very satisfying. Balian is a very small town, basically 1 street long. We got a lot of massages, ate a ton of food, drank a lot of juice, and did yoga every morning. David surfed 3 times a day and now his face is peeling in Ubud. :D It was nice to soak up the relaxation; I realized when I got there that THAT was how I envisioned my month long vacation to be, very relaxed and chill with plenty of time to work on my personal projects. So it makes sense that Jakarta and Yogyakarta were a bit hard for me.
One of my students from the Google yoga class that I teach introduced me to Dewa, his friend who lives in in Ubud. I knew nothing about him except Eric (my friend/student) said he is awesome and would show us around. I told Dewa via facebook message that we were heading to Ubud the next day, and he responds "would you like a ride?" I immediately felt a surge of gratitude and awe. The ride took 2+ hours each way; there was no payment, just a welcoming favor for new friends visiting your country. He picked us up at 12:00 on the dot from Balian, and proceeded to drop some serious knowledge, and ridiculous jokes, during the 2.5 hour car ride to our Airbnb in Ubud.
We discussed everything from Balinese healing techniques to language to Balinese Hindu customs to coffee to yoga. It turns out he is a tour guide here, and spends his time hanging out with (mostly) English speaking tourists accompanying them on their various activities in and around Ubud. He's incredibly friendly, as evidenced by the fact that he had 1,000 people at his wedding, 250 of which were his family.
Some of his tidbits that stuck with me
- Each Indonesian island has their own language, and they all share Indonesian, so they automatically speak 2 languages. For example, Balinese has origins from Sanskrit whereas the Borneo language is from something else (I forgot what). He can't understand someone speaking the Borneo language, but they could converse through Indonesian.
- He explained how traditional family systems work in Bali. The entire family lives in the same house, and he's lived in his family home which has been in the family for 10 generations. When you marry, the woman moves in with the man's family, and it's your responsibility to take care of your parents, as it is your children's responsibility to take care of you. This came up when David asked if there were any homeless people here. He said no, because they all live with their family. (this makes me sad about the state of things in America and other parts of the world).
- The Balinese religion is a combo of Animism (Earth Based religion) and Hinduism. They have practiced Earth Based religion forever, so animals are very important. Then Hinduism came along, so they now have statues of animals and Hindu deities all over. At the front of their temples, and in many places you will see the face of Kala, an "evil" spirit. Dewa explained that the Balinese people believe that there is balance to everything, you need the evil to have the good. They don't shy away from the evil, or fear it. They include it right up front in their temples, giving it a space, and even offerings. By welcoming it and giving evil space, it will have no reason to do any wrong to them, the people.
- Community and the village is very important. An example he gave was if there is a ghost in your house, from say a death, and the soul hadn't left, the family of the house would perform a ritual to help the soul move on to it's true home. If the family of the house was unable to perform the ritual, than village members would take on this responsibility.
- Balinese Hindus all believe in reincarnation and karma. Karma rules everything about the way they live. When you die, there are 2 options, either you are cremated and your ashes are blown into the ocean, or you are buried for up to 3 years, exhumed and then cremated so your ashes can be blown into the ocean. They believe the soul is not tied to this body, so there is no need to keep the body trapped on earth after the soul has left. This also helps the soul move on.
- Along with this wisdom and more, Dewa also has some epic jokes and a huge sense of humor. He says OMB (Oh My Buddha) instead of OMG, and also changes it on the fly to something like OMBB = Oh My Buddha Belly if we eat too much, etc. His name also means God (Deva) in Sanskrit.
- On a personal note, I've been very sad to find that there is hardly any tea in Indonesia, and no green tea in most places. It's too hot here to grow tea. Ubud has green tea and I just polished off a whole pot to myself. :D
The internet is painfully slow here, so I'm going to share less photos for now. Much love to you all, thanks for following along! <3