BALINESE GETAWAY #2: KITCHEN HANDS REUNION
As serendipity seems to be a serious part of my trip, I realise that Clémentine, my friend from Te Anau, will be in Bali at the same time as me. She’s having a stopover in Bali before going back to France. I’m more than thrilled to see her again, considering that I’d cried like a baby when she left Te Anau last January.
We’re going to spend a whole week together and we both are terribly excited to see as much as we can of the Island of Gods.
After our day drive towards Ubud, I only have two days left to enjoy Clémentine’s company. We settle ourselves at the Karma House Homestay, a lovely place right in the city centre, yet apart of its frenzy, in this tiny lost alley. We wander, we stroll, we get a flashy pedicure (yes, in flashy green, like my flip flops), we feast with Indonesian food and we get up in the mornings dancing.
FAIR WARUNG BALE
We come to discover Fair Warung Balé, a restaurant with a quite innovative concept: that’s a social restaurant which means that 100% of the benefits (yes, 100%, how crazy is that?) goes to the Fair Future Foundation whose purpose is to build a new paediatric hospital in Bali in order to help the kids in the most remote and rural places. It will also provide a free medical care for those in need. Also, the restaurant employees are all 15 to 20 years old youngsters with ‘problems’, so they’ll be able to learn a new job.
The Fair Future Foundation was fund in 2006 by two Swiss people and was declared as a public utility. Its purpose: to allow Indonesian people, and especially the children, to have free medical care in dedicated spaces. Their commitment is fund by the Fair Warung Balé Restaurant.
The place, in addition to being cosy and friendly, is definitely busy! The other reason is probably because the food is undoubtedly delicious. We sit on a big table with strangers, we talk and get to know each other. The waiters are smiling, so is the boss. You can make a good deed by eating delicious food (try the chicken spicy cashew nuts!), making a donation or even buying a T-shirt with funny catchphrases like ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito!’
Basically, with one meal, you can fund two free medical treatments. So, what are you waiting for?
Ubud is also the perfect place to attend some Balinese dance shows.
On our first night, we attend a Joged Dance show, which we completely fell in love with. And the scenery was just magical, for it was held at the Ubud Water Palace. Joged Dance is a traditional Balinese dance accompanied with gamelan (the Balinese orchestra) only composed with bamboo percussions. This peculiar kind of dance is only social, as opposed to ritual or religious dances.
At the end of the performance, the dancers are even inviting some people of the public to dance with them on stage. The show completely amazed us. I’ve been quite hypnotised all along, by the music, by the mischevious smile of the lady dancers, by their golden finery and by the aerial movements of their hands. Let’s have a look at that shall we:
On the second night, we attend a radically different show, held in a temple this time. It’s a Kecak and Fire Dance. The Kecak is a Balinese vocal percussion choir very close to something like a trance, which is often used for rituals. In this case, the choir is telling the Ramayana story, a Hinduist mythological saga, and most precisely the part in which Rama is trying to save his wife, joined by his mate the demon-ape. Yeah, okay, I must admit that when you don’t really know the Ramayana story, it could seem kind of confusing to watch. The choir’s chants are hypnotical, tribal and seem to come from far far away in the past. It reminds me of traditional Maori chants I’ve heard in Waitangi, New Zealand. The chant is followed by a Fire Dance where I SWEAR TO GOD THERE’S A GUY WALKING ON EMBERS THAT CRAZY BASTARD!
UBUD MONKEY FOREST
While in Ubud, it’s impossible to miss out the Monkey Forest. Okay, let’s say I’m not a big fan of monkeys, I don’t know why but they freak me out. But since it’s a must-do experience in Ubud, well, let’s go. I quickly understand why. The forest is a bloody enchanted forest! Giant trees, creepers falling from the sky, temples and statues… It’s hard not to fall in love with the place.
And then comes the monkeys. In French, we use this expression ‘malin comme un singe’ which literally means ‘smart as an ape’. And so they are. Trying to dig into my backpack even though it’s closed. They don’t hesitate to get out everything that’s inside, looking for some food. So, here’s an advice, DON’T bring food with you. Otherwise, they’ll just jump on you like crazies. There are 600 macaques in the forest, which are subdivided into 5 territorial groups. For they’re not afraid of Humans, it’s important to be careful, and avoid any eye contact (which is seen as an aggression for those monkeys), avoid touching them, feeding them, otherwise they might bite you and you could get rabies (hello, high five if you’re scared like me now.)
On the other hand, let’s say it’s funny to watch them wander everywhere in total freedom in this jungle décor. And yes, honestly that’s something worth to see.
Remember, I’ve already been hanging out with monkeys in Japan!
For our last moment together, Clémentine and I go for a stroll in the rice fields. Getting caught by the rain, we take shelter at the Sweet Orange Warung, this café that I’ve already been to when I first arrived in Ubud. This time, I buy a coconut shell that we decorate thoughtfully and I dedicate it to Clémentine, by also the friends I’ve been with when I first got here, Selena, Gina, and Larissa. Buying a coconut helps to preserve the place by educating people about recycling and not throwing trash in the rice fields.
That’s in those rice fields, under the rain, that resounds our last laughter, a bit wet with emotion. Now, I’m ending this Balinese journey on my own.
But first of all, I still have a day left to enjoy Ubud on my own. Since it’s raining like cats and dogs (in French we would literally say that it’s raining like cows peeing), I decide to have a look at the Puri Lukisan museum. It’s not as big nor as valuable as the Pasifika, but some pieces of art are truly interesting. I really like the place, though, the garden is wonderful.
On the evening I attend another dance show, a Legong and Barong Dance this time. Legong is designating this peculiar way the dancers are moving their hands while dancing and grinning.
As for the Barong, that’s the dance that implies the Barong mythological figure, a kind of lion. He’s the King of Spirits, which represents the Good. His enemy is Rangda, the Bad Evil, the Evil Queen, the Queen Bitch. The story looks very very confusing to me, and it’s quite a long show. Means I liked it less that the two other performances.
My night at the Happy Mango Tree is eventless. This backpacker hostel is way less crowded than the In Da Lodge one (maybe because there’s no pool here) and the atmosphere is way more relaxing.
I’ve made up my mind and booked a bus towards Amed. I’m going to scuba dive there.
I wrote it on my 2016’s wish list, remember? Let’s live the life.
LET’S GO THERE! :
KARMA HOUSE, Jl. Arjuna No 14 Lingkungan Ubud
FAIR WARUNG BALE, Jl. Sriwedari No. 6, Taman Kaja, Gianyar, Ubud
SWEET ORANGE WARUNG, Ubud
MONKEY FOREST, Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud
GANESHA BOOKSHOP (THE MOST AWESOME BOOKSHOP IN BALI!), Jalan Raya Ubud
HAPPY MANGO TREE, Jalan Bisma No.27, Ubud
UBUD PURI LUKISAN, Jl. Raya Ubud, Ubud