I spent my final time in Bali kind of wistfully. I wished I had "gotten out" more from Ubud, and at the same time I enjoyed every minute there. Monday was spent doing a cooking class with Dorothy and a nice Australian couple at Bumbu Bali (see http://www.bumbubaliresto.com/cookbumbubali1.asp). Nyoman had offered me the opportunity to come see his clinic in a small village an hour away at the same time, but sadly, the cooking won out (I'll check out the clinic next time!) Our cooking class included a trip to the local Ubud produce market which is always fun, a review of the ingredients most of which were familiar to me (but has anyone reading this used candlenuts for anything before? If so, please tell me what and where you stock up on them in the US). We made some yummy things, the best of which was a prawn dish in a lovely yellowish curry. I will definitely try to duplicate this at home!
Though we were completely sated from the 7 course meal we had cooked, it was never too late to start planning for dinner (as it was to be my last dinner in Bali). So I suggested we go to Indus Restaurant for dinner (http://www.smh.com.au/news/Indonesia/Eight-great-things-to-do-in-Bali/2005/02/15/1108229998260.html) which I had been to 5 years ago. Still situated with beautiful rice paddy views, lovely ambiance, but not quite as great as 5 years ago and up in price like everything in Ubud -- I'll call it the "Eat/Pray/Love" effect. It was still a lovely if slightly melancholy goodbye dinner!
OK, this blog is a bit out of order. There are other things I wanted to mention, more highlights of my Ubud stay. Lest you think that all we did was eat, I wanted to mention 2 art gallery/museums that were particularly fascinating. Now, they would need to be truly special in order to impress against the backdrop of Ubud that includes everyone being an artisan and there being gorgeous art everywhere, especially depicting scenes that could only be happening in Bali (the legong/barong/kecak dances, women carrying huge offerings piled on their heads to the temples for one of the ceremony days that seem to happen 3x a week, the beautiful rice paddies, etc., etc.). But these two were expats who moved to Bali.
The first one was Symon's Studio (see http://www.symonstudios.com/studiosartzoo.html and click on "The Ubud Studio"). He is originally from Michigan, and per his website, "Symon has lived in Bali since 1978 and is best known for his bold portraits of sensual young Balinese men, done in vivid tropical colours and often to an exaggerated scale". Guess what: we got to meet one of his muses, a guy named Sugi! Fun! And I loved the art. A lot of it was iconic stuff involving Obama, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and other pop figures of our time, a la Andy Warhol. Check it out.
The second was the Blanco Museum, chronicling the career of a Spanish/Filipino artist who also moved to Bali and married a local gal, and had a long productive career producing sensual art of the more female variety. A nice companion piece to Symon though the style was very different. The museum is situated in what was his fabulous home and gallery and studio... but what fascinated me the most was the incredible collection of tropical exotic birds living there, kind of as pets mostly. A bird who I think was a toucan (but with a blue neck pouch???) took a liking to me and would not leave me alone. He started nibbling on everything shiny I was wearing (ring, bracelet, those elephant earrings) and I had a grand old time.
In addition to food and art, we also did much walking, which I mentioned in a previous entry, especially the walk through the rice paddies which was absolutely beautiful. We made a number of stops (see http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g297701-d1422324-Reviews-Sari_Organic-Ubud_Bali.html -- not sure I put that in the last entry) including seeing the organic farm that supplied the restaurant we went to and climbing up a little tower to get a really nice bird's eye view of the rice fields. We walked from about 8 am to 6 pm till I thought my feet would fall off... And then in the early evenings we would come across little bands of men and boys who were marching and playing music and had barong/lion dancers with them in order to ward away the evil spirits on Galungan.
I ended my last night in Ubud with a combined massage and manicure for US $10. The lady insisted on painting flowers on my big toenails as a parting gift, though she was not actually doing a pedicure :) On Tuesday morning I bid a fond farewell to Dorothy, my new friend from Singapore who I hope will make it to the US one day. I was leaving for the airport -- and she was leaving for a cremation, a HUGE big thing in Bali. I was jealous! 3 times in Bali and I still have not managed to attend a cremation. I'll have to check out her blog for more details of that.