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Bali – 3

July 22, 2009

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Passion flower

Friday, July 17th

For some unknown reason my internal clock and compass have made their own adjustments to life in Bali. I wake at 4 a.m., ready to start my day. That would be three in the afternoon at home. I have no idea why this works. I need a nap in the afternoon for an hour, and then fall asleep around ten or 10:30 pm. My personal compass is an even poorer quality mechanism. Because I am on the side of the river gorge in the middle of a forest, I don’t see much sky from my kitchen, where I have set up my computer on the table. It is also very hazy in the morning so the sun is obscured. My compass keeps telling me north is south, and the sun isn’t helping me out. Maybe it is because I am living on the other side of the equator, plus my head is facing south instead of north in my bed. It has me slightly disoriented. I hope my needle swings in the correct direction soon!

Since Bali is situated so close to the equator, day and night are of equal length. The sun goes down at seven and comes up at seven. I am used to long summer days, so this too is bewildering. I took a walk this morning around the prawn ponds, along the river, and through Dawn’s garden. She is working at being self sufficient for her family’s vegetables. For breakfast we had an omelet stuffed with Thai basil, garlic, shallots, Indonesian spinach, and feta. I am sure I reek, exuding Thai basil and garlic from every pore.

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After breakfast we drove to the city of Klungkung, which was once the centre of Bali’s most important kingdom. I knew what direction we were going because the sun was out! We were headed to a family compound that sells cloth, to purchase some fabric for clothing. One of Dawn’s housekeepers, Ketute, is also a seamstress, and she is going to make some jackets for me! I purchased three different pieces of batik that were still stiff with wax, which we will have to boil out before Ketute can begin sewing on them. They are gorgeous, and it is difficult to believe they were hand woven and dyed by Balinese women, instead of being made on huge machines. We visited two different rooms in the compound – in one room were rainbow stacks of lightweight cotton in solid colors, and the other room contained prints: batiks, stripes, and ikat patterns, also in cotton.

Next we stopped in the city market, which consisted of a number of sprawling buildings stuffed with stalls that sold everything imaginable. Our goal was the fabric sellers tucked deep in the warrens of a large, central building. I procured a stunning, diaphanous shawl with a paisley print in turquoise and rust. After that purchase, we drove to another shop that sold the hand-formed frog closures for the soon-to-be jackets, as well as matching thread. And then home. It takes a long time to go just a few miles here, because of the traffic, road conditions, and the geography of the country. Because the rivers run north and south, so do the highways. Very few roads cross east and west, so roundabouts and backtracking are necessary to get from point a to point b. A five mile “as the crow flies” trip might end up being fifteen or twenty miles. Add in two thousand mopeds and a road that is fifteen feet wide, and you have quite an adventure that might be an hour in duration!

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Freeway, Bali style

We were both ready for a nap when we got home. After our lie-down, Dawn made mint juleps (sans alcohol) from mint in the garden, fresh limejuice, and palm sugar, for a treat. There was pad thai for dinner. It was delicious, and just a touch warm in deference to my weak, northern latitudes palate. I blissfully fell asleep at 10:30, after my attempt to read failed.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. vineman permalink
    July 23, 2009 6:44 am

    Q-
    The photographs are lovely. The myriad mopeds would scare me half to death. I notice that many of the moped riders are wearing helmets. I can’t help but think that in the event of a crash (a very real possibility, it seems), the helmet wouldn’t do me much good if two or three of the infernal machines were lying on top of me. I hope the surrounding beauty of the land mitigates for you the presence of the machines. After all, isn’t that why we go on vacation? To leave our world behind? At any rate, thanks for sharing your wonderful photographs and experiences.

    I agree, leaving the world we know behind is definitely a good reason to take off! The moped drivers were pretty scary though, especially the 12 year olds!

  2. July 26, 2009 2:32 am

    Pad thai — you’re killing me! I think it’s wonderful you are finding your own time/clock. I suspect it may be easier because it appears that your activities are less scheduled, that you can build in the time for your nap, you are working somewhat independently at times. That’s really a gift, and I bet it makes the transition easier. I love those photos, too. Yes, indeed — smart move with the camera!

    And when are you getting your new camera?

  3. July 29, 2009 5:12 pm

    Q – if you’re ever driving in this direction, please come for a visit and bring your pictures. These are wonderful/exotic/different and your stories are eye-opening in many ways. Would love to see/hear more. Happy summer-ing!

    I am all over that invitation, Oh! Next summer – I think I am going to stay home for a while for now. My puppies missed me so much – they thought I was never coming home!!

  4. July 30, 2009 6:34 am

    What a fabulous trip you are on! I have always dreamed of going to Bali – but of course the dream revolves around the “tourist ads” and not the nitty gritty Bali you are experiencing…. such a wonderful opportunity. Love your photos and will drop by to see new ones (hopefully!) to be addded. Enjoy – and safe travels! Deb

    Thanks, Deb. There isn’t much truth to the “tourist ads” unless you have a TON of money and don’t give a rip about what else is going on. It is a wonderful opportunity! Thanks for visiting.

  5. July 30, 2009 4:37 pm

    That omelet sounds delicious! Can’t wait to see how your jackets turn out, what a unique treasure to be able to bring back with you from your adventures.

    Tofu diet is the way to go, Carl. I am losing weight! Or maybe it’s the lack of sugar….

  6. August 9, 2009 1:37 am

    I understand so completely about time and direction disorientation. In Liberia, we looked West to the Atlantic – it was enough to induce vertigo, and truly didn’t “feel right”. Only 7 degrees north of the equator, we also had those 12 hour days and nights that you’re experiencing at 8 degrees south. Berthing in a boat, I prefer my head toward the bow – otherwise I feel headed downhill!

    The turquoise and rust sounds beautiful, a more saturated version of the colors on my blog. What a wonderful remembrance of your time there, in a country that seems filled with deeply saturated color.

    It is really interesting how our sense of direction and orientation become so important. I wonder why it matters?

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