. There are terraced rice fields hugging the distant hillside. Birds swoop and call from the trees. Flying insects flit about and roosters crow in the distance. The air is redolent of green, living things and the scents of flowers. Overlying all of this is the sound of rushing water from an unseen river far below us. The total effect of our surroundings immediately began working as a soporific on our bodies and minds, and Bill and I both found ourselves lolling about without a thought or care in the world. I immediately started to adjust my expectations for this part of the trip; whereas before I had been thinking about activities which would take us away from our accommodations, now I was plotting how we could simply stay here (and never leave). However, our thoughts were interrupted when we realized we were hungry.
We noticed what looked like a restaurant visible from one of the decks, but when we tried to walk to it, we couldn't find a way to get in. We ran across a man, we figured an employee of this property, who told us that the restaurant belonged to a different property, and if we wanted to have a meal we would need to give him 1-2 hours' notice. This was puzzling, although it made sense later. I think he saw our crestfallen faces (or heard our rumbling bellies) because he hastened to add that he could put together a plate of fruit and maybe some bread for us. We thanked him and went back to the room and talked about this unusual situation
. I ended up calling the operator from the room phone to ask where exactly the dining room was (the room directory stated that meals were served in the "dining room"). Apparently I had reached the same guy we'd just been talking to. He told me that the dining room was outside the villa. I asked exactly how far outside the villa, and could we walk to it? He repeated that it was outside the villa and he would come to show us. A minute later, he popped his head in and demonstrated to me that indeed, the dining room was outside the villa--it was our own outside dining room, which I was actually standing in when he came to explain. He punctuated his words by picking up one of the chairs and patting the table. Now everything made more sense. There is no restaurant/dining room; all food is made on the premises and served at our own outdoor dining table. In addition, we must give the cook time to run down to the local market to pick up fresh ingredients prior to our meal, which explains why it takes awhile to get something to eat. The employee left to finish preparing the aforementioned snack for us and soon returned with a platter of papapya and pineapple, a big bowl of steaming rice, and a platter of stir-fried vegetables, tofu, and prawns. I don't know how he managed to whip all of that up in such a short period of time, especially with the interruption to come explain to the dense American woman what a dining room is.
A few hours later, Mike made his arrival, escorted by Made who had kindly offered to pick him up from the airport and transport him here. After some visiting, we all piled in Made's car for a ride to downtown Ubud for some dinner. Made had to work that night, so he dropped us outside a place called The Lotus Cafe (I think) which was actually a very beautiful open-air restaurant facing the imperial family's temple which was clearly visible across a large lotus pond
. When we got our menus, I started giggling because the light was so dim and each of us had to make allowances when it came time to read our menus (Bill and I had forgotten our reading glasses, and Mike's prescription glasses didn't work very well in the low light). This is how we coped: Bill utilized his handy-dandy travel flashlight to carefully peruse his menu, I pretended to read mine but couldn't make out a single word, so Mike took off his glasses and held his menu close to his face and slowly and carefully read each of the entree courses out loud for us. It was like the blind leading the blind, although we did end up choosing tasty food. An added bonus was a dance performance at the steps of the temple off in the distance, complete with a full orchestra (gamelan) and some nifty dancers.
After dinner we carefully picked our way along the broken sidewalks, asking taxi drivers as we passed them how much back to our accommodations. Mike indicated he wished to stop at a bar before we headed for home, so we found one with live music--a five piece band playing top 40 hits. The lead singer had this booming baritone voice, sort of a cross between Josh Grobin and Johnny Cash. However, his appearance belied his voice, as he was this short, skinny Indonesian guy reading the lyrics from a notebook. It was just kind of incongruous. As long as we didn't look at him, it was okay though. Mike insisted on shots all around, so we downed those and generally had a fun time. Soon enough it really was time to head back here, so we piled into a cab and were comfortably ensconced in our rooms at a somewhat decent hour. Bill and Mike stayed up talking into the wee hours of the night, while I unfastened the draperies around our lovely bed and slept like a princess.
Made is picking us up at 10 tomorrow for another day of sightseeing, which should be fun. Stay tuned! And thanks for reading this and commenting--it really means a lot! One final thing--I'm having trouble posting photos but will add them in a bit.
I won't bore anyone with the details of our last morning in Jimbaran. The driver for our Ubud accommodations picked us up from the lobby at noon, and we settled in for the 1-1/2 hour drive. The scenery out the windows gradually changed from urban to rural. We snaked past Ubud town proper and then wound our way up into the jungle-covered hills, ending at this place called Villa Beji. About 5 staff members carried our 2 bags and escorted us to our room. I'm using the word "room" loosely because this is a two-story building with several verandas, a bale, infinity pool, and multiple sitting areas, inside and out. The beds are romantically draped with yards of muslin. The bathtubs are deep and made of natural stone. There is an outdoor shower. There are expansive views from every floor to ceiling window and door. In other words, this place is quite incredible. The best thing to write home about is the setting. We're perched on the top of a ridge, looking out over a wide ravine. Everything is covered in lush vegetation