April 17-April 23
Leaving the beautiful beaches of Lembongan, we head into the hills of Ubud, the cultural and artistic center of Bali. Everyone had been telling us to come here, which made us a little wary of course, and although it is very touristy it is an awesome place. All you need is a motorbike to take you 5 minutes out of town and you are among local villages and farmers working in the rice paddies. Jon even helps harvest some rice! There are also lotus flowers everywhere, which we love love love.
Our guesthouse is awesome, a 3-story Balinese compound. We are on the whole top floor with a huge balcony looking out in every direction. Each day we get a delicious free breakfast from the sweet cutie-boys working there, and throughout the day we get free tea and coffee all day.
After exploring around Ubud all morning we sit and relax in the afternoon with our tea, watching the afternoon rain clouds rolling in, and the swallows dipping and diving, catching their meals on the wing. At night there is a chorus of frogs and cicadas, with the distant sound of gamelan still ringing in our ears.
Each night we go see a cultural performance at one of the temples nearby. These consist of traditional dances accompanied by an orchestra of traditional metal and bamboo instruments set in intricately carved wood painted red and gold. When they start playing the sound is so jarring, it instantly brings smiles to our faces. It sounds like dissonant bells colliding in space, sometimes in unison and other times ringing to their own tune. The chords are dissonant and constantly jumping around. Dancers come out wrapped up in their gorgeous costumes and headpieces. Their arms and butts stick out and they move their hands and fingers just so, with their wrists slowly turning about and their eyes dancing back and forth. Their expressions keep you glued to their movements, and their rhythm keeps you in tune with the music. We look at each other smiling and say, "WOW!"