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The streets of Ubud

Posted on February 27, 2014

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia:  We spend a lot of our time inquisitively exploring the streets of Ubud. Some we can zip along by scooter, but the more interesting ones are pathways that meander through rice paddies and family compounds. Our ‘street,’ for example, takes us over the Campuan Gorge, through Kadek’s family compound, along the rice paddy, past the coconut tree, over some stepping-stones and then to home. When we head out to pottery and batik in the mornings, we hop on the scooter and battle the pandemonium of Ubud’s streets. The rules of the road are really just friendly suggestions. So, the real fun begins when we encounter one of these hold-your-breath intersections or tiny one-way streets. We pull our knees in & hope for the best.

Traditional Balinese family compounds

Posted on February 27, 2014

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia:  Driving around Ubud, there are times when we can’t see past many of the thick walls built up along the streets. We learned these are karangs, traditional family compounds composed of many homes and filled with extended family.

Within the compound is the family temple, which is actually a collection of five+ small shrines placed on high pedestals. These are dedicated to ancestor worship, specific Hindu gods or ancient spirits. Further within the compound there are a number of small houses or open sided pavilions, organized around a main house which is occupied by the current head of the family and his immediate family, while the smaller dwellings house visiting relatives and children.

Within these compounds, much effort and expense goes towards the decoration of doors and gateways. Doors are carved from rain tree woods and painted, but may also be gilded with gold leaf in the case of high caste families. Gateways are often highly ornamented, often with the Bhoma head, killer and eater of demons.

Back in Brooklyn…kinda

Posted on February 27, 2014

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia: Despite being a world away from the modern conveniences of home, there are some signs of Western life sprinkled across Ubud. There’s Alchemy, a hipster/yogi/ Brooklynite cafe down the street. We discovered this place driving by on our motor bike, and couldn’t help but notice how different it was than the local warung we’d been visiting for most meals. Alchemy was clearly opened by a Westerner, hoping to attract all the other Aussies, Kiwis, Germans and Americans here looking for organic, gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, probiotic, holistic, etc fare. We love the Indonesian food and eat local for most meals, but every once in a while it is nice to have some flavor from home. We laugh and say, ‘Want to go to Little…

Our neighborhood

Posted on February 26, 2014

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia:  We’ve been here just over 2 weeks and have settled in to our community and a routine. Our bungalow sits in a rice paddy in Penestanan, a traditional village of artists and bead-workers who live and work in their walled family compounds.  Population: approximately 2000, which is quite large for a Balinese village. It’s certainly off the beaten path, and giving directions to someone trying to find us goes something like this: take the main road from Ubud towards the Bintang supermarket, go 100 meters.  On your left, take the Campuhan Steps all the way up the hill. Turn right at the top, walk straight past our yoga studio, past our regular eatery, the Yellow Flower Cafe, go left, walk down a handful of stairs past 3 rice paddies and our bungalow is on the right.

Because we are situated within a traditional Balinese family compound, we have loosely become part of this family during our stay here. Kadek, the owner of the land, comes to check in on us daily – is our motor scooter working properly, do we want to find another restaurant nearby, do we know how to get to the beach? When we walk by Kadek’s house, everyone smiles and says good morning, and his dog Whiskey comes by for cheese each night. Sometimes he even hops on board the scooter as we’re heading out for the day…

My art project: Balinese batik

Posted on February 20, 2014

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia: One of the reasons we chose Ubud was for its arts community. Expat artists have been coming here since the 1920s. We knew there would be no shortage of museums, galleries and artists offering workshops and studio time to visitors like us. I chose to focus my art project on batik because I’ve always been interested in fabric making and textiles. Before leaving the States, my only textile-related activity was knitting. One of the things I love about knitting is picking out beautifully colored silk, wool or cotton yarns and seeing them come together in an eclectic pattern and fabric. So, it wasn’t a big leap to want to experiment further with color, fabrics and making new patterns with Balinese batik.…

Hindu offerings in Bali

Posted on February 19, 2014

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia: We awoke our second morning in Bali to find in our entryway a rosette-shaped palm frond filled with colorful flowers, rice and burning incense. This was the first of many hundreds of offerings we would see around town, in the rice fields, along the roads and even on motorbikes. We knew these were ways of showing religious devotion, but little else. So we asked around, did a little research and found out about these offerings were beautiful expressions of the Hindu religion. Offerings are an integral part of Balinese daily living and show reverence to the gods. The handcrafted offerings are made out of natural materials and are placed at the entrance to homes, at family and main temples, before and…

Our new home in Ubud

Posted on February 14, 2014

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia: For the first month we’re in Bali, we’ll be living in this joglo just outside Ubud. It’s been beautifully restored to fit with the rest of the homes in the rice paddy community. It’s a 20 minute walk to the center of Ubud, so we are away from the sounds of this now bustling but still charming artist community. Because we are literally situated in a rice paddy, we are in the middle of a tropical farm of sorts. Chickens walk by each morning, nonchallantly checking out their new human visitors. Roosters crow, sometimes reaching protest-like volumes. And the best part is the frog symphony each evening. Thousands of frogs erupt into song, each outdoing the other. It’s so relaxing to sit in our open-air living room looking out onto the rice paddy and hear these gorgeous animals sing us into the night.


Hot water beach

Posted on February 5, 2014

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand:  This place was unbelievable.  Under the sand beach lies a hot water spring, which is accessible for 2 hours either side of low tide.  The water reaches temperatures of 67 degrees Celsius, and people hunt & peck for the perfect spot to lie in the toasty water. We rented a spade from the local surf shop, made our way to the beach, dug the perfect hole (not too hot, not too cold) and chilled in our personal hot spring for 3 hours.