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Bali – 4

August 6, 2009

paradise 5

My computer doesn’t like the electricity here; it hums and vibrates when it’s plugged in, and feels like a live thing under my fingertips.  I hope it doesn’t explode before I leave for home!  There are no building codes or permits for anything in Bali.  If you want to build a house, you just build it.  Electrical conduit is a bamboo pole if you prefer not to look at bare wires hanging around.  Bricks are made at the brick maker’s house in the front yard.  One does as much as possible by oneself, calling in expertise only when absolutely necessary.

Every other house along the road has a little storefront (warung), and most sell similar items, making a few rupiah a day for survival.  Some sell gasoline in old Absolute Vodka bottles, for the motorcycles.  There are baskets of vegetables from the garden, maybe a chicken in a cage that can be slaughtered if you want to take it home for dinner.  You will have to take it down to the river to pluck it (I saw many heaps of feathers on my walks), and then wash it in the river before taking it home to cook it.
let there be coconuts
We went to the big market in Gianyar Saturday afternoon to replenish the larder.  First stop was the egg lady.  There were ten different stalls selling eggs, but D goes to the same lady every time so she doesn’t have to haggle.  She filled her Tupperware container with ten eggs, shaking them first to make sure they were fresh.  Next was the tofu lady.  The tofu was cut in 2-inch squares, sitting in a big bowl on the table.  D chased the flies away before loading up her container.  Then we moved on to the chicken lady to buy scraps for the dog and cat.  All the meat lies out on a wooden table, including heads and feet if you want them.  I was so glad D didn’t buy any chicken for us!  On the next table, the aroma of not so fresh fish rose from the goods for sale.  We moved on to purchase carrots, shallots, peppers, apples (very expensive), and green onions from other sellers.  We made our way through a connected maze of buildings, up and down steps and around tables stacked with each farmer’s goods.  Ladies called to us, trying to induce us to buy their superior wares, but all had smiles even though we passed them by.

We put our bags in the car and walked to the “internet guy’s” shop.  He looked at my computer and the phone, but he couldn’t figure out how to get on line with this new Apple.  He called someone in Denpasar, but they couldn’t help him either.  He pointed out that the phone had its own modem, so somehow I had to bypass the one built into the computer.  When we got home I figured it out, so my internet withdrawal symptoms are now fading.  I do have to limit myself, however.  It’s not like at home with unlimited time and fast downloads.

DSC_0091We had a salad for lunch with lettuce, beans, and the ubiquitous Thai basil.  It was tasty, and I refused to think about the e coli in the water!  I took a nap during the hottest part of the day – until about three.  We had decided to take a hike to a nearby temple, so we set off along the river.  We greeted a lady scrubbing her clothes with soap and a brush on top of the cement holding wall, where she dipped them in the river to rinse them.  She probably has a drying rack at home to hang them on.  The air and land are so laden with water, it take two days for clothes to dry when they are hung up.  Next we passed an old man sitting in the shade, watching his flock of ducks clean up the scraps from the harvested rice field.  Then we went cross-country, walking on the foot wide paths that run around all of the fields.  Attempting to climb up to the next higher terrace, D fell in, and was covered with brown muck.  Fortunately we had sarongs and sashes with us to wear when we got to the temple (dress code required).
steps to the gods
The only person we met on the temple grounds was the priest, who was dressed all in white and was trimming the trees.  The grounds were huge, with eighty-two different buildings and shrines.  The oldest were from the 9th century, and all had beautiful carvings and statues.  The shrines have little wooden doors painted in red with gold leaf trim.  The gods are in residence in these shrines during various ceremonies, when they are fed and honored before they leave to go back up to heaven

We took a different path home, cutting through plantations of coffee, vanilla, and cocoa, and then along the road through the village and home.  I read until D called me for dinner: Indian tonight.  Pumpkin, beans with mustard seeds, and split yellow peas (dahl) over precious Basmati rice.  There was a sauce, somewhat akin to salsa, that was very hot, so I had to use it sparingly.

I pulled my mosquito netting around me, snug in bed at 9 p.m. and finished my book, A House in Bali by Colin McPhee.  He came here in the 1930’s to study the gamelan music.  I have seen the instruments sitting in a corner of the temple as we pass by in the car, but I haven’t gone to see a concert yet.  Next week.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2009 11:06 pm

    I think you are toying with me. You’re really on another planet aren’t you??? There’s nothing like what you describe on earth! Oh, I am so enjoying these posts!

    It sure feels like a different planet, Pamela. It is good to get out of the rut, and realize how fortunate I am!

  2. August 8, 2009 4:18 am

    Q, the beauty of the pictures here, the precious water and the natural colors are a joy. But your words about the place are so far superior even to the photos. Certainly I would learn fast and quickly not to freak over washing my food and my casual use of clean water, too. But don’t make me pluck my own chicken and then wash it in the river. You told us about what goes on in that river already!

    Yes, Oh, I am perfectly happy eating tofu even though it was a landing platform for flies, rather than a chicken cleaned in the river! I definitely have learned – if I want to eat, I can’t be squeamish.

  3. August 9, 2009 2:05 am

    I went looking and found a lovely youtube of gamelan gong kebyar – I have it playing now.
    There’s a company in Austin called Music of the Spheres – they produce wonderful tuned wind chimes in everything from soprano to basso-profundo, in a multitude of tunings including Balinese. I just popped over for an explanation of the scale and such – so lovely.

    I am so fiercely commmitted to the idea that structure and beauty are interdependent, and your photo of the terraced fields reminds me of that again. It’s a breathtaking photo – and such a different vista from the rice fields on the Liberia mountainsides, where slash-and-burn was the cultivation method of choice. Quite apart from the agricultural and conservation issues involved, the Balinese fields have it all over Liberia in terms of sheer beauty.

    You are so right, Linda, absolutely beautiful rice fields. But as you pointed out, the other issues involved are not so good….. The Balinese have turned to planting a hybrid grain of rice which is nutritionally inferior but yields two crops a year. I fear what might happen if there was some kind of blight, like the potato famine in Ireland in the 1800’s.
    What is also very handy about the rice terraces is you can walk along the foot wide retaining walls of each paddy and go cross country. The only requirement to get from one place to the next is sure footedness.

  4. August 12, 2009 2:01 am

    However will you return from this extraordinary journey? I suspect re-entry will be as different as blocking out e-coli and internet problems! Your photographs are just extraordinary — a feast for the eyes. And your words, oh yes! They tell it all!

    Thanks Jeanie. I have really had a lot of fun taking photos and then being able to download immediately to the computer, and edit. Modern technology is wonderful!!

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