Sunday, April 11, 2010

Welcome to Bali: Island of the Gods

After a night spent sitting in a concrete patio outside the Densapar airport, leaning against a wall that cockroaches and red ants also claimed as their home, we proceeded gratefully to Teba House, a sweet little guesthouse located up a small hilly road in Ubud. A province comprised of 14 small villages, Ubud has an unearthly concentration of massage parlors, dress boutiques, health food cafes, art and dance venues, and toned, tanned wheatgrass-drinking, yoga pants-clad expats. These new-age types (what is it about new-age soul-seekers and Hindus??) have become all the more abundant in the past few years due to the immense popularity of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love where she writes about how she found healing, meaning, and love in Ubud. The local population here seems to hold a certain derision towards this book.

Still, the Balinese and the tourists and ex-pats seem to get along well enough. Life in Ubud, amidst rice paddies and monkeys, is pretty relaxing and the Balinese religion and culture--a mix of animistic and Hindu beliefs that, for a variety of reasons, is a very popular topic among academics--is beautiful and intriguing. A Hindu island in a sea of Indonesian Islam, Bali isn't shy about it's differences; people set small offerings of flowers and incense outside their shops and homes every morning and engage in all kinds of bold artistic endeavours.

Even though the wet season has technically ended, our days have been structured around the rain. Most afternoons feature at least one torrential downpour and a thunderstorm, which we enjoy with tea and rambutans from the patio outside our room (see below picture of the rainstorm in the courtyard).

Bali (and Lombok) is our final destination, and we are trying to soak up this time together as much as possible before spending the next year in different cities (Jeremy at UC-Davis and Ali doing her first year placement for Smith in Denver).

Click here to see pictures from Malaysia and Singapore

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