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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Friday, 5 November 2010

November 5th: Ubud

On November 5th 1981 I was in Ubud on the island of Bali.

Most tourists were on the beach on Bali and so Ubud was a quiet place to visit overnight. I stayed at Canderi's, which was comfortable and had excellent food, and there were usually a few other visitors. Ubud was busiest early in the morning when the market was active, but was sleepy for much of the heat of the day. I had a few walks to neighbouring villages on the dense network of lanes, and realised I needed to go further away from the town and the "hello, mister" kids.

Lane near Ubud:  My picture
Temple near Ubud:  My picture

This day I was up early for coffee at the usual stall. I took directions for Pejeng from Canderi, had my breakfast and was off at 7.15. I had second thoughts when the path was flooded immediately after Peliatan, but found that there were stepping stones across and persevered. At the ancient cave temple of Gua Godjah there were tourists around; the bathing places were no longer used, but there was a demon frieze around the entrance, and inside there were little cells and images on either side lit by paraffin lamps, a Ganesh and three lingams. I decided to detour to Yeh Pulu through the suburbs of Bedulu, pleasant enough with shady lanes and little temples, to an ancient bathing place still in use beside the paddies.  Finally I reached the frieze of Yeh Pulu, with pictures of, among other things, a tiger fight, a woman pulling a cow's tail, a Ganesh. It was quiet and unusual, especially the setting. There was a woman who came and swept a few leaves; she spoke some Bahasa Indonesia, the "two hundred" maybe her only English. I found a bemo to Gunung Kaui, which is an impressive place despite the tourist trappings. You climb down to the river, and the rock tombs are along the sides of the gorge, some made into temples, and all set in the greenest paddy-fields. I walked along the terraces to one side where there were some holes in the rock, dripping water, and sat for a little. I turned north to see the vista towards the mountains, and found there was a path to Pujung so I could come back a different way, and walk a bit more. The country now seemed different, the people less used to foreigners.

I crossed a river, went through a village and passed a man carrying two baskets of carved wooden deer or cows. There were high paddies and views of distant hills mainly obscured by clouds. Approaching Pujung I came across many women carrying offerings on glass-jewelled headrests and placing them in bamboo altars in the rice-fields. In Pujung there was a very large, old and beautiful temple where a festival was in full swing; there was a gamelan and a man up in the corner was beating some of the wooden hanging-drums I had seen everywhere, everyone wearing their best. I sat down outside, but people told me to go in and I did for a few minutes although I felt like an intruder, until a white-dressed priest politely signalled me to go. The sight was still arresting, a man dancing with a mask, and lots of smoke and people bearing the offerings, the music really loud. I walked a little along the road to Ubud and soon found a passing bemo, which took me down past shops with huge carved garudas; carving was the speciality of the area, and maybe this was one reason the temple was so fine.

Gua Gajah:  My picture

Paddy-fields on Bali:  My picture

Gunung Kawi:  My picture
Near Ubud Market:  My Picture

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