After be surrounded by glorious nature, we changed scenery and went to the city of Ubud.
Emer: Ubud was fabulous in every way, from the food to the accommodations, and temples to shopping. A lovely private villa at Ubud Green became our home for a few days. There we enjoyed fresh fruit baskets, a plunge pool, and wonderful view of the lush green rice paddies right outside out porch.
In the town itself, we wandered around the market, which is always interesting to see, but hawk the same goods you see everywhere else in South East Asia. What was more interesting were the actual stores, which Jenny and I explored with enthusiasm (it was so nice to have a shopping buddy who didn’t despise shopping). Not just the shopping itself (though we both did get some very cute items), it was nice to spend time with just Jenny.
On the cultural side, we explored some beautiful temples, including the large Gunung Lebah…
…and beautiful Saraswati Water Temple.
And, a highlight for me, saw a classical dance performance. My mother studied Balinese dance where she was here in the ’70s and I’d see videos of performances so I was looking forward to seeing one in real life. The are multiple dance and puppet performances every night in Ubud, it’s a matter of mixing and matching the style with the venue. We opted for Legong at Ubud Palace – a perfect setting. The accompanying orchestra, so loud the vibrations penetrated to the bone, played tunes very, very unlike anything Western. The dance was subtle and beautiful, the lines of the dancers body creating curving lines.
Matt: The arrival of my Mother as our new traveling companion had so many extra benefits on top of just getting to being reunited with her after four months on the road. Of course the upgrade in our living standards were a plus (see the pictures of our villa and private plunge pool), but perhaps my greatest relief was for my feet and patience as Emer now had a new shopping buddy! While they spent time exploring the stores, it gave me time to relax inside of restaurants (which served mojitos) and massage parlors (which offered full body massages for only $7).
While I did find different ways to spend our time apart, we did manage to explore quite a bit of Ubud together. We spent a morning hiking up to a serene restaurant with beautiful views of rice paddies, and checked out a couple cool temples. We also watched an Indonesian dance performance at the palace. Maybe it was just me, but the musical accompaniment was a little too chaotic for my taste. The band consisted of 30 people, 25 of whom were percussion players, and 17 of which were playing modified xylophones. I have never been musically talented, nor have a particularly strong ear for distinguishing rhythm or tune, however this sounded like over the top chaos to me. Too many instruments trying to do the same thing, and I am sure they are very talented, but it was not my kind of music. Then in complete contrast to the over the top music, the dancing itself was slow and subtle. There were so many small eye movements and finger wagging that seemed to be telling the story that even with the program explaining it all, was over my head. While the whole performance was interesting, for my untrained eye, it seemed long and repetitive, and I was just glad they were serving beer! When it was all said and done, it was back to our villa to enjoy the high-life while it lasted!