As my old friend Dr. Sief once said while we chased camels across a Bahraini desert in a hotel mini van, “It is a magical day!”
Sara Holbrook – motorcycle mama
Seems every day in Bali is a magical day. The last time Sara and I were here we took a long weekend between two weeks of teaching in Jakarta. As we boarded the plane a little girl walked up to us and said, “Didn’t I see you in Croatia a year ago?” Indeed she had. She was at a school we visited in Zagreb and here she was waiting to catch a plane in Jakarta bound for Bali. Chalk one up for small world syndrome.
A couple Komodo dragon statues in monkey forest
So Sara and I were scheduled to visit a couple of schools in Southeast Asia – Hong Kong and another for two weeks. Well due to circumstances beyond their control the second school ended up having to cancel our visit five days before our departure. Tickets were bought and paid for, schedules were made, house sitters and dog watchers hired. We were in a pickle. So we started making calls to our friends at international schools in the area, put our Utah based travel agent on standby and hoped for the best.
Have you hugged your elephant today?
Ta-dah – Kate at Jakarta international School said – “Why sure, you guys come back here we’d love to have you – only trouble is we cannot take you until a week after you finish in Hong Kong. Tell you what – what don’t you spend the week in Bali then come to us!?” So – boom, pow! We’re chillaxing in Bali!
Our bungalow at the Alam Sari
Okay, back to the small world theme. An old friend from decades ago now owns a great shop in Cleveland called City Buddha. Turns out Larry and his lovely wife Rai spend a couple months every year in Bali buying for the shop. So the night before we leave Hong Kong I get a facebook message from him asking we’d like to see if we can meet up. (Small world) I write back informing him that Sara and I are staying in Ubud, a city up in the mountains, far away from the surfers and such down beach ways and he tells us he and Rai have a house in Ubud (smaller world.)
We meet up with Larry and walk around town the first day and have dinner with him and Rai and the two of them talk Sara and me into renting a motorbike. The last time we were here, our friend and owner of the Alam Sari suggested the same thing but we were not brave enough to do so. With our new/old friends assuring us it was not necessarily signing a death warrant to get on a scooter here we took the plunge – deciding to try one for a couple days. The motor scooter has changed our life. We flit around the island like a couple of joined dragon flies now. Buzzing and burping up hills weaving in traffic, riding through thunderstorms. Sara’s helmet sports a sticker that says Rancid Hooligans. And that’s what we are! (At least as much as a couple middle aged poets from Cleveland Ohio on a Yamaha Vespa knock off could be.)
Rai discusses a purchase for their store with Larry.
We scootered behind Larry and Rai on a shopping trip for the store today in another village way further than we would have ever gone on our own, then back into Ubud for lunch at a place called Ibu Oka for barbecue suckling pig that Anthony Bourdain declared the best he had ever eaten and finishing the afternoon with a massage. Part of the spa treatment included a post massage scrubbing with aromatic and gritty paste of spices, followed by a burrito like wrapping in towels where it felt like I was being slow cooked as whatever was plastered on my body began to generate heat. A bath in ginger water and a shower and here I am writing this post.
Just one of roughly a gazillion wood carvings we saw today.
Oh yeah, we told the Alam Sari folks that we’d be keeping the bike for our whole stay.