Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Belated Balimoon • Tagging along with Choy & Kevin...

Since Choy was preparing for a formal tour the following week, he had a few errands to run and was kind enough to allow us to tag along. It was great! 

One of the places on his stop was to Ida Bagus Ketut Dharma’s compound (home). He is a Hindu priest and one of the last Keliki style traditional painters, which he is revered as a master. When he's not conducting ceremonies or teaching children from his village the Keliki style, he also leads a rice paddy walk that Choy recommends for his tours. We actually booked his paddy walk earlier that week, but had to cancel at the last minute, because I was detoxing (I'll get to that).

Since I missed my chance to meet Ida Bagus earlier that week, I was really excited to finally meet him and see his artwork. I have to mention that I really love the black & white ink drawings that you see around Ubud. You see this style reproduced all over town and throughout Bali (see photo above). I actually told my husband that I’d really like a black & white Ganesha, which proved to be truly hard to find. If we did find one, it was colorfully painted or just mediocre in quality. So to my surprise, when Ida Bagus started showing us his amazingly detailed pieces, I realized that the Keliki Style is the style of ink drawings and paintings that I’d been admiring. As fate would have it, one of the last paintings that Ida Bagus pulls out, is the exact Ganesha painting I had been hunting for.

With shaky hands, we inspected the intricately adorned painting and knew that we had found the perfect wedding present for ourselves. The painting is truly exquisite in its quality and care that it embodies. As it turns out, each piece takes many months or more than a year to complete. The flawless linework flows through scenes of ceaselessly interweaving patterns and meticulous detail. It will be an honor to display this piece in our home, once I get it framed. 
While we were visiting Ida Bagus’s home, his sweet wife made us the most delicious sweet rice treats pan-fried in coconut oil with fresh lemongrass tea grown in their garden. At that moment, I wanted to ask if I could move in. I loved it there. 

After we left Ida Bagus’s house we visited Threads of Life.  This organization makes beautifully handmade batiks from natural dyes. 

What's even more impressive is that they employ their female staff with livable wages and are preserving a Balinese tradition instead of mass-producing printed designs. I don’t remember the name of the town, but it was fascinating to observe the batik process from beginning to end.  The patterns were surprisingly fresh and modern (which I appreciated), since I’m not a fan of the traditional looking batiks and the finish products were absolutely gorgeous.  Surprisingly, I was able to refrain myself from making a wanton purchase.

It was a real treat for us to follow Choy and Kevin around for half the day.  Not only for their great company, but also to see a side of Ubud that we would not have found on our own.  Also seeing the amount of care and detail that Choy takes for all his tours is so unbelievable.  I wanted to join one of his tours.  

Photos starting from the top:
two photos of us on our paddy walk \ typical tourist art & a rooster \ our Ganesha painting \ Ida Bagus, his wife, me and my husband \ wood blocks \ women batiking \ wax used for batiks \ batik scarf \ the boys


Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Belated Balimoon • A few days into our trip...

It took us a couple days to get use to the heat. What is it with Asian people and not noticing the heat? There were Balinese people wearing wool sweaters and babies in hooded one-piece fleece suits out in the equatorial sun during the hottest part of the day and not showing a bead of sweat. Koreans are like this too. My husband and I were drenched in our own perspiration, wearing just enough to appease the locals and had to retreat to the pool every afternoon to escape the jungle heat. 


We were fortunate on this trip to receive detailed recommendations from Chee Choy, who conducts tours throughout Southeast Asia with Jalan Jalan Asia. We hadn't really planned this, but were lucky enough to meet up with Choy and his friend Kevin in Ubud, which was one of the highlights of our trip. Thank you so much Choy for sharing your inside tips to Bali, which we pretty much followed to the tee. Whenever we veered from Choy's recommendations, we were usually left wanting more from our excursions.

We first met Choy and Kevin for dinner at Cinta and had the best tuna satay on the trip. We also met up again the next morning where Choy and Kevin invited us on a jalan jalan, which took us through a beautiful rice paddy and ended at a tucked away little organic farm for brunch, called Sari Organik. Portlanders would totally feel at home eating there, and the amazing views of the rice paddies can't be beat. What I loved most about our trek was that Choy knew so much of the vegetation, the fauna and the history of the landscape. He would always pause to point things out that could easily go unnoticed and pluck spices off trees for us to examine and smell. 

Photos starting from the top:
Alter for offerings \ me & my husband \ view of rice paddy \ neighbors helping each other farm rice \ man carrying dried rice \ cloves plucked off a tree \ brunch at Sari Organik


Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Belated Balimoon


Need I say more?

We just got back from a belated honeymoon in Bali.  It was absolute paradise.

My Bali writing will continue through several posts, so bare with me.


We began our trip in Ubud, the cultural epicenter of Bali, and spent almost a week there. Ubud is towards the middle of the island and a hub of art, dance and music. We chose to stay in Ubud and take day trips to outlying towns from there. There was just so much to do, that we didn't really have a chance to explore downtown Ubud, which is quite small. Partly because we were out exploring when it was cooler in the morning and evening and poolside in the middle of the afternoon after a massage. (My husband was hooked after his first reflexology foot massage and we tried to get one everyday after that.)

So shopping and investigating all the shops was down to a minimum. Sadly, the lore of the shops were not as exciting, since we get plenty of curiosities living in Korea. If we had been coming from the States, it would be a different story. Plus we couldn’t get any great bargains, since apparently everyone thought my husband was an Aussie or Euro and I was his Japanese geisha. This just killed any deals of which we were hoping. What sucks more is that me being ‘Japanese’ hurt us more than my husband being a round eye. Damn the Japanese! 


Kenko Reflexology
Ji. Monkey Forest, Ubud

We only tried the foot reflexology massage and the hands, back, shoulders & head massage.  The foot massage was definitely the best at Kenko's.   
Both were 30 minutes and about 40.00Rp, which is about $4.50 USD due to our dollar continually going down.