Now we are in Ubud for the weekend, staying in the Komaneka Tanggayuda. I have booked a villa with an infinity pool as a birthday present to us both, and it is divine. The outdoor granite bath is something else!
Ubud is now a bustling tourist town, but this is only on the main streets, which we try to avoid, having had one cursory look around the ‘market’ – one vast collection of tourist tat. We find it easy enough to go on a paddy field circuit off the main road and only meet a couple of other foreigners – it is a timeless Bali back there, with the famers harvesting and winnowing their rice; cows, pigs and hundreds of chickens.
We find a wonderful fabric shop on the way, where they are promoting and selling the dying art of traditional loom weaving by the remoter ethnic groups. I buy an Ikat ceremonial sash, which will make a glorious table runner.
It’s very hot wandering round – mad dogs and Englishmen and all that – so we find a riverside restaurant and try Balinese satay which is minced fish or chicken, on its own little charcoal burner, with a spicy tomato sambar. Ross has a champagne bucket of beer.
The following day we find a village and paddy field walk near the hotel, which is about 20 minutes outside of Ubud. The family compounds all have a shrine, varying in size and grandeur, and that’s in addition to the numerous temples everywhere (and rubbish, sad to say). Each small holding has cows, pigs – which we can smell but not see (Bali is Hindu), dogs and cats, ducks and the ubiquitous chickens. Once again we see fighting cocks in bamboo cages; they are a prized possession. Cockfighting is always a prelude to any big ceremony and Diwali is approaching. We saw a big fight on our arrival in Ubud, and a temple procession that delayed us for a good 20 minutes.
People here are super-friendly, and we are warmly greeted as we stagger round (hot again), picking our way through the paddy fields on little raised field dividers. Quite hairy as some of the drops are a good five feet or so. Every field also seems to be demarcated by shrines, many of which are planted with pretty flowers and shrubs. There are colourful wild flowers growing alongside the irrigation channels, and ducks splash happily in the water.
We enjoy our weekend here, it’s a good add-on to a trip to a more exotic destination in the region and, despite the egregious behaviour of the Indonesian government and palm oil companies, this is a beautiful island and well worth a visit, especially if you travel further afield, or stay away from Kuta and Sanur in the south. Our friends, who have lived in Ubud for a year and with whom we had dinner on the first night, have a gorgeous house, fabulous pool, and love it here.