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Bali – 6

August 12, 2009

DSC_0088My friend the tree frog that lives in the kitchen light fixture

I didn’t drink any tea after dinner last night, so I didn’t have to worry about snakes and lizards and things that go bump in the dark when I walk downstairs to the bathroom at 3 am!  I plan to be just as wise this evening.  I am reading The Kris of Death, a murder mystery set in Bali.  The writing is …rather…. , but it is an interesting ex pat perspective of Ubud and the artists living there.  It isn’t scary, so it won’t keep me up tonight, either!

Yesterday was a rainy, shopping extravaganza for me.  I left home around 8:30 am, up the steps out of the ravine and around the prawn ponds, along the river path to the road.

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I followed the curves and twists of the road through the village (and the gauntlet of dogs) to the main road.

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The dogs beat the chickens when it comes to snapping up the offerings left in the road

There I waited for a bemo to drive by.  The first one hailed was not going to Ubud (it was orange, not blue), so I waved it on.  The second one was blue, and I climbed aboard.  A bemo is a tiny van with benches lining the back, and the door removed for easy access.  As we bounced down the road the driver tried to engage me in conversation, but since his English was limited and my Indonesian nonexistent, not much was communicated.  I was able to explain where I wanted to go: the ARMA Museum.  Once we reached its front door, the price for the ride suddenly quadrupled since he had to go off his normal route.  I figured I could afford the $2.00, however, and passed it to him.  He tried to convince me I needed him for a ride back, but I already had arrangements.

The ARMA is an art museum owned by a private Balinese citizen and was quite impressive.  The German artist Walter Spies, a painter who came to Bali in the 1927, is represented at the museum, as well as numerous Balinese artists from ancient to modern time periods.  The entrance fee was $2.50 – 25,000 Rupiahs – everything is so inexpensive here.  The museum was three different buildings housed on beautiful grounds, and I really enjoyed a quiet morning there.

An interesting character – Spies was one of the first Westerners to come to Bali and fall in love with the beauty of the country and the culture. In December 1938, Spies was arrested as part of a crackdown on homosexuals. With the influence of people such as Margaret Mead, he was released in September 1939.

As a German national in the Dutch East Indies during World War II, Spies was again arrested and deported. However, a Japanese bomb hit the ship that was carrying him to Ceylon, and because the crew refused to evacuate the Germans without orders from an officer, most of the prisoners on the ship, including Spies, drowned.  Such a sad end to the story of a talented, generous, gentle man.

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It started to rain as I emerged from the museum, and of course I had no raincoat, umbrella, or even a plastic bag!  It rained off and on, sometimes really hard, for the rest of the day, so I was a sodden mess.  I walked and walked and walked and walked.  I also stopped for some lunch in a lovely, three tiered restaurant, where I took advantage of the menu and had fresh pineapple juice, croissant with butter and jam, and a cappuccino.  It was delightful after all the tofu and organic healthy stuff I’ve been eating lately!  I didn’t tell D what I ate because she would have given me a hard time – all that white flour and sugar and caffeine!  I window-shopped, made some purchases at the market, and stopped for a late lunch.  Along with deep friend spring rolls, which were to die for, I had two lattes!  Yum, the coffee is so good here, and since I have only tea at home, it was really fun to indulge.

D had an afternoon meeting with a new co-teacher, and they picked up my sodden self at 4 pm at a predestinated corner (Pizza Bagus, where I had a mocha shake with real ice cream!!), and we proceeded to Green School so they could interview a possible assistant.  Just what I wanted to do with my dripping backpack.  I forgot my phone was in an outer pocket, and will have to purchase a new one when I get home.  It is so humid here, it takes forever for anything to dry out, so I was soggy for the rest of the evening.  We toured the school grounds (climbing half way up a mountain to get there) and interviewed the young woman.
The Green School:

Delivering a generation of global citizens who are knowledgeable about and inspired to take responsibility for the sustainability of the world.

DSC_0119You don’t need walls in Bali

We finally made it home around 8:30 pm, and I was ready for a shower and my mosquito net cocoon.

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Home again, home again…

Unfortunately I’m not used to all the caffeine, so I spent half of the night awake,  listening to the rain patter on the roof tiles, and the river pouring down the hill next to my house.

When I woke up in the morning – Yikes, youch, OUCH!  Fire ants had invaded my bed, and they bite.  I have little welts everywhere.  There sure are a lot of insects and various other creepy crawlers here.  Give me a good, old-fashioned housefly!

I was happy to not be going anywhere today, and put my shoes and backpack in the sun to dry.  I can see across to D’s living room from where I am sitting, and I am watching Ketut put the finishing touches on my first jacket.  It looks beautiful from here!

D and her son Yanni have head lice, which has me more freaked out than the snakes, lizards, and the huge toad I kicked in the dark last night, walking home.  Cross fingers the lice stay away from my head.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2009 6:23 am

    What a rich post, qugrainne.

    I was especially taken with the Green School. I visited their website and flickr photostream and was just entranced with the bamboo and rammed earth construction. I’m of a divided mind on many so-called “green” projects and studies, but there can be no doubting the value of a new generation educated to respect this world and find new ways to ensure wise growth.

    I enjoyed seeing the pond flowers “in situ”. And I’m really, truly sorry about those fireants. They’re all over Texas, and no fun. On the other hand, in Liberia we had army ants – big boys who marched in regiments and ate every bit of protein in their path. When you saw a column heading for your house, you grabbed the pets and got out until they were gone. There weren’t any bugs left when they left, though.

    My fav photo has to be the entrance to the house. What a beautiful, graceful place. It seems to have grown there, rather than being built.

    Linda! You always do the homework!!!!!! I am so pleased you looked at the Green School site. It is a very interesting place and they are really trying hard to teach “sustainability” to the kids. My cousin is in charge of the permaculture program (along with teaching k-5) and she is working with the kids in the garden every day. The first thing they do is take a couple square feet of the earth as “their own” and journal/draw/document what they see and the changes over time. It is a very cool concept. There is a lot of Steiner/Waldorf incorporated in the curriculum with story telling, music, drama and etc. And the bamboo structures are just incredible.

    The entrance to the house is so romantic, don’t you think? The house is made from all recycled teak from houses torn down in Java. There were lots of carved panels – really quite beautiful.

    Texas and Bali can have their fire ants, Liberia can have its army ants – give me good old wood ticks any day!

  2. August 15, 2009 6:58 pm

    No walls…i love that. Things can flow. (but I am NOT a fan of the fire ants much less insects large enough to go bump in the night. Sounds like a real treat wandering around the museum and the town where you could get lattes and white flour food. I appreciate however the food lifestyle that D has created and wonder at the clalm of it all.
    Tell more about the dogs. That picture “got” me, too. Are they on their own?
    The Green School building is a piece of art on its own. I’m showing it to our son who is attempting to make furniture from bamboo since we have a lovely bamboo forest on our property. He’s having a tough go of it. He was fascinated to read earlier of using bamboo for a wire conduit, as you wrote in a prior entry.
    Despite the flies and ants and (harsh) differences there, is it easy to fall in love with Bali, in some this-is-where-I-want-to-be kind of way? I’m curious, too, what took D there.

    Hi Oh! I have to do a separate post about the dogs. They are very sad, and I couldn’t bear to take pictures of them. These are pretty healthy puppies – only two survived the litter so they had enough food. Most of the dogs in Bali live on the street and fend for themselves, and if you walk one block you will encounter at least twenty five dogs. They are covered with scabies, have broken legs, ear mites, are starving, and some are rabid. A few people care for their dogs, but most people keep them as work animals (barking at intruders) and let them fend for themselves. It was difficult to witness.

    If you go to the Green School site you will see all of the buildings are made of bamboo. I will do a separate post about bamboo, too. The roofs made of bamboo are incredibly beautiful! Good luck to your son and his furniture. I saw much roadside industry of bamboo furniture – sorry I didn’t take any pictures!

    For another post!! I could never live in Bali. I am not a pioneer, and it is a very difficult life unless you have money – it is a third world country with extreme poverty. I find it difficult to be a wealthy American when the housekeeper who takes care of sweeping my house every day makes $3.50 a day. I have a hard time coming to terms with that. I think I could have fallen in love with the Bali of the 1930’s, but now it is quite overrun with tourists (and all the nasty stuff they bring with them). Like I said, another story!

  3. August 18, 2009 10:54 pm

    Yes, nothing like a little sugar and caffeine to perk me up after too much “nice” food! The croissant sounds badly needed, though it sounds like you paid for the caffeine. Red ants? That’s pretty miserable!

    The story about Spies was fascinating. I don’t know him and will have to dig into your link. And I love the image of your tootling around in the little blue bus!

    I am SO enjoying my trip to Bali with you!

    Prior to my research for this trip, I hadn’t heard of any of the expats who ended up in Bali before it became a tourist destination. What a fabulous time it must have been to be there.

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