Friday, March 11, 2022

Bali Part 2

And So Began Our Retreat Into Hedonism. 

When the rim of the wine glass is smeared with your buttery lip impressions, the prawns were probably delicious. And they were. We ate at least 2 meals per day in restaurants. We rented a scooter by the month and a car whenever our bottoms got sore or the wet season arrived. We never missed a wine tasting or an archeological hike and our rice paddy views with our own swimming pool soothed our Ubud souls.



Ubud

Ubud seems to be better for restaurant pricing, but more expensive for massages. Aleja says it’s because “not only do they align your spine, they align your chakra too”. You need to know that Ubud is the vortex for all things spiritual. Said another way: “it’s the wack job capital of the world”. When the kooks in Sedona and Venice Beach get thrown out for being too crazy – they go to Ubud. Living here means constantly refining your exit strategy for when the conversation turns Looney Toones. “Cake in the oven” doesn’t work. It needs to resonant with the common citizen of Ubud, so something more akin to, “I’m receiving telepathic messages from my spirit gecko. I need to go!” That will be met with a knowing nod and blissed out smile. Live to logic another day, I always say…

As weird as Ubud is, we tried to make it even weirder with ascots, monocles and pencil mustaches (thus called as they were drawn on with an eyebrow pencil). We recruited friends and wallowed in our revelry. 

It made the rounds on the internet but it's not far from the mark





This guy had no sense of humor!

About Those Friends… 

It is a wonderful thing when, as a road weary traveler, the world conspires to make you sit still long enough to develop friendships. We joined a health club, bought squash rackets, took pottery classes, and built a list of Ubud’s best restaurants at which we quickly became regulars 

We made many many ceramics and gave them all away

Our trivia winning team: Chika, Ben, Dean and Bruce (Phil, who was a friend and asset to the team, missed this evening)



Ben and Aimee on a road trip



Of course there were Colombian dance parties!

The Bandits! We did nearly everything with Dan and JRae


The Naming Game

You’ll notice that the Balinese all seem to have the same names. Here’s why: The first born is named either Wayan, Putu, or Gede. The second born is either named Made or Kadek. The third born is either named Nyoman or Komang. The fourth born doesn’t get a choice – only Ketut. It cycles over again to the remaining first names for the fifth kid. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. The sex of the child doesn’t matter. The name game stays the same. Males get “I” in front of their names and females get “Ni” in front of their names. Birth order matters here. I’m actually the first son, of the first son, of the first son. You’d think I’d be crowned “King of All Friedmans” but my name doesn’t help my standing on this island since “Bobby” (spelled “Babi” but pronounced exactly the same) means “pig”. When I introduce myself the blank stare of disbelief is uniform. I lighten the mood by making the joke complete for them by repeating it James Bond style: Bobby. Bobby Guling. That means “suckling pig”. You see it on signs all over town. It’s a very popular dish.


Amed & Tulamben

We made 6 trips to this area that spans about 30 minutes of driven undulating coast. Gorgeous and almost primitive when compared to Ubud or Sanur. The scuba diving of an old WW2 wreck was fascinating and the reefs rebounding during the pandemic made the snorkeling fantastic as well. Who can argue with 83 degree water and clear visibility?





This is the Liberty wreck which sat on the beach from 1942 until 1963 when a volcanic eruption made it slide beneath the waterline. History amps up the thrills




Sidemen

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves




Munduk

We went just about everywhere on the island at least once. Munduk we went to twice. Poor restaurant selection but the views were stellar, and the people were very nice. Priscilla gave us her scooter for free since some of the roads were too small for the car we had rented. It’s a wonderful human experience when you are undercharged and willingly overpay to reward their largesse. 

We had that waterfall all to ourselves. There are changing rooms here that have been abandoned since the pandemic. It tells you how crowded it once was. But today… we went nude!


Parts of Munduk look like a Dr Suess cartoon



Lovina


We ate spicy street corn from the same vendor each night as the golden orb burned its way into the ocean and delivered perfect sunsets nightly. We walked black sand beaches but swam in the pool. There is not much to do in this town and that’s just as it should be. 

Inland from Lovina




Kintamani

Our friends treated us to a “Mystery Day” and the 4 of us spent a night in one of the few places you need a jacket. This is the caldera of a dead volcano. The lava scars are still visible today. Does anything really die on a Hindu Island in the ring of fire?  





Jatiluwih

Their communal system of water management is quite interesting. I’m not going to dig into it here but if you are interested beyond the photos, you should Google: “subak”

Do I have a beautiful model or what?


This whole area has been designated an Unesco world heritage site. Go there!

Canggu

Home of the influencers and gym rats. Crypto conversations can be overheard everywhere, the food is mostly vegan, and of course these beautiful people are too pretty to wear masks. Hence the covid epicenter. We passed through a few times, hung out with friends and logged some beach time. 



Jimbaran

Allen Carey - I know. You got me. Noted.

Where the tear drop, that is called: The Bukit, shakes hands with the rest of Bali, there is a beach called Jimbaran. It is known for its calm surfless waters, bedazzled fishing fleet that sparkles across the nighttime waters, and their harvest from the sea that is showcased at the famous local fish market. We stayed at a lush hotel and walked the sand to a string of restaurants and picked the protein they cooked for us. It was so delicious we did it 3 nights in a row. 







Nothing wrong with a rooftop pool and a swim up bar


Uluwatu

This island is so unique that each corner has its own culture and feel. Uluwatu has the allure of its dramatic sheer plummeting cliffs and death size reef breaks. And there is a massive temple with danger monkeys for only a small extra charge. It’s beginning to challenge Ubud’s monopoly on lunacy. There is an expanding pocket of weirdos who are choosing surf and sun over the cooler rainy climes of Ubud. Imagine that. This is where the cool kids can develop their own conspiracy theories. 







Lembongan, Cenigen, & Nusa Penida – The Balinese “Off Islands”

I occasionally find myself asking the question. “Why is this so good?” In the case of the above referenced islands that are off the east coast of Bali (but are owned by Bali and considered Hindu Bali) you're not staring out at the blank ocean. You're staring at the beautiful dramatic coast of Bali with its chaotic weather systems and these little spider fishing boats bobbing in front of you. They harvest seaweed and are 25 years behind the Mother Island. It’s so good because they are a time machine that allows you to visit Bali as it once was. You’re welcome.

The family plots of seaward farming between the islands of Lembongan and Cenigen

Partying in Nusa Penida w Dean, Seonghee, Lina & Rayco

Staring down Bali 
The Seal Pup of Love in Crystal bay



Nusa Penida From The Diary

“We had a big day. Scootered down to Crystal Bay and snorkeled. Then came up to Gamat Bay. Drove the scooter down a terrible gravel road. Parked on the last flat spot and then hiked the remaining kilometer to the beach. Had it all to ourselves until the boat came in and the Chindo (Chinese Indonesians – Non derogatory and coined by Dean Costello, trademark pending) tourists that can't swim are put in life rings while standing on coral. 15 minutes and then the boat releases the mooring and jets away for the next bay. Fun to drive home all salty without a helmet or mask. This place is still the wild west.”



The tourist boats have trained them to eat crackers from your hand. Maybe not so wild west


Our Ubud And Surrounding Areas

There is a reason we chose to live here. Look closely, you might catch it -





Sayan Point





Looking down from our balcony as the farmer plows his rice paddy below

Typical Balinese street scene

Tagallalang rice paddies - about 20 minutes north of us


Our sweet landlord lady who brought us fruit and thanked us regularly

Candi Tebing Tegallingah. My favorite archeological ruin on the island. About 900 years old

We surprisingly had time for many shady cocktails. I guess we finished work early this day

Ain't nothing wrong with the centrally located Campuhan trail of Ubud

If Bali didn't exist some Hollywood producer would hire a team of writers to create it

Taken early one morning from the Campuhan trail

I had a dream. The brief was simple: "Book dry, butt wet." I hired the local boys to drill and assemble my hammock vision of splendor. 

I believe the mission was accomplished. 

Do you have a minute for some time lapse beauty?



Honorable Mentions:

Ringside seats in Candidasa

Ringside seats in Balian. Have you booked your tickets to Bali yet?


Kitties

We heard a noise. We looked inside. Some momma cat had given birth inside a giant vase on our balcony. 



Friends. Food. Fun

It really does boil down to that. We built wonderful friendships around the dining table, and we ate delicious foods as we laughed from the belly. Simple pleasures during a complicated time. I hinted at it above, but it is worthy of repeating: All of the beauty of Bali is merely window dressing to the human connection that we made with a small subset of friends. It’s those bonds that matter the most. We miss Bali but we really miss our friends.

Your man on point,

Captain Bobby











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