Road crazy....

Trip Start Jul 05, 2011
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3
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Trip End Jul 29, 2011


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Where I stayed
Darta's Homestay

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Sunday, July 10, 2011

So I get to Ubud, welcomed in by Darta's family. Hostels are pretty non-existent here…the place to stay is at a HOMESTAY which means youre living within the compound of a family.  The home of a Hindu family is far from just one structure….its a complex surrounded by a stone wall.  It includes a large area for prayer where there are a number of dressed up statues….this is a focal point for offerings.  Then there’s all the other areas a house might have except they're all open air.  Then there are a bunch of rooms lining the periphery….some of these might be rented out to guests.  That way, when you stay there, you're really living with the whole family….there’s quite an extended family scene here.  Darta has his parents and then all the children, then their kids and assorted other individuals.  And everybody seems to have a role to play.  Clearly Darta is the business man, with his personable wife right along side….the kids work the restaurant …the grandma welcomes and seems to be in charge of offerings (which can be a full time task), and when grandpa is busy, he’s chopping vegetables.  Balinese food requires lots of finely chopped or mortared spices….a major preoccupation preparing all that.  And then of course, there’s overlap…babies get held by everyone….there are always extra unidentifiable people around…cousins, inlaws, extensions...it’s a busy place.  And needless to say, with all those people around, a homestay is a very safe place to settle.

Time for some culture....pretty interesting how they name kids here.  You notice quite quickly that a lot of people have the same name.  In fact I was talking on the phone today to Nyomann and it was a whole different Nyomann than I thought.  It's because the first child is ALWAYS named Wayan, the second Made, the third Nyomann and the fourth Ketut (remember Ketut from Eat, Pray, Love?…well there’s all sorts of Ketuts here.)   After that, I don’t know.  There are family names too but generally people go by their first name…and there's only a few to go around.  And I get a lesson on the castes from my driver to Ubud, Nyomann.  He’s from the near lowest caste called Shudra.  And from him on "up" you’ve got the Gustis, then Dewa, then Idabagus, then the Brahmins (now those aren;t the words Wikipedia uses but they're def the words that Nyomann uses).  He said that the Brahmins are kind of annoying to be around in public because you have to address them a certain way….with big respect….but when you're out drinking some Bintang w them, you can talk to them however you want.  He’s glad to be a Sudra because he said it gives him a lot of freedom….perhaps fewer expectations….less formality.  But there is a definite awareness of the castes folks belong to …

So I go walking around Ubud thinking about my next week here.  I walk so far and get so hot and tired that I can’t imagine walking home….so in a flash of genius, I rent a bicycle.  Picture incredibly narrow streets, uneven and potholed, cars going every which way, motorbikes filling every minute space between the cars, and then add me on my bicycle to the mix.  And of course, there’s no helmet to be had….an extra level of unprotectedness.  Clearly, the ride home is treacherous!!!   Having to look in six different directions cause someone could be coming from anywhere….and it’s just dark (never again will I ride in the dark here), and just to change it up a bit further, driving is on the opposite side of the road to ours.  So this requires a shift in perspective.  But it feels great to be moving on a bike…I get home in a total sweat  but in one piece and glad to be so.  

Well on day two, riding is a whole different story.  I'm getting the hang of it…my tactic is ride like the road is yours….weave around anyone in your way, and act like you're really on a motorcycle (and try to surround yourself with them for protection in traffic).  It's really becoming fun…although at times still feeling a bit crazy.  But I can get to the countryside easily now, the monkey forest (my favorite place), out to the rice paddies, and around town in a flash.  I'm getting some serious exercise (although breathing in some serious exhaust) and feeling great – working off some of that black rice pudding with the coconut cream – and  I think i'm getting noticed around town…maybe.  

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Comments

Edith Pirri on

Karen, I'm loving your Blogs. Feel like I'm there with you - your writing is so great. The photos are terrific - Bali looks so beautiful. Be careful. Edie

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