Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ubud in July

Despite having higher prices than I am accustomed to for Indonesia, Ubud is a gorgeous and wonderful place and this is why I booked a one full week of yoga and other yummy goodness here for my final memories of Indonesia. It is also a great place to meet other travelers, an easy place to be a solo traveler so I've never felt lonely and on the flip side, I've had plenty of opportunity to have my privacy and spend time alone: Perfect balance. I've had a full belly the whole time I've been here in Ubud. It's been a source of comfort to me. I am still homesick and I still wish to return home soon but knowing that I am in just a couple of days, I'm releasing to the daily sensations as best as I can. Living in the present moment is not easy, especially as I don't want to fall into complacency nor lose my insight into possibilities.

I booked this trip over a month ago, having already settled my departure date from Indonesia with the ELF program but before knowing whether or not I was going to visit Thailand. I remember the night I clicked those few icons that appeared on the screen of my laptop confirming my registration. It was a hot evening in Banjarmasin, sticky and sweaty. I was hearing the rats play in the kitchen and was thankful that the power had come back on. Feeling a need for escape, I found Balispirit while googling "Yoga Barn" "Ubud" and "retreat." It was the best thing I could have done for myself: A weeklong package including my simple bungalow room, clean and with hot water and a handful of meals at my favorite Ubud restaurant called KAFE. I was given a class pass for 12 yoga or meditation classes of my choice, 2 private yoga lessons with this wonderful teacher named Jane and I added on a bike tour through the rice paddies with Bike Baik.

It was on this spectacular bike tour that I met Katherine and her 7 year old son Tané. Katherine and Tané are from Ireland, Tané is half Maori (New Zealand) and his name means "man." We instantly clicked as a small traveling group, enjoying our bike ride together, Katherine offering her back pack as a place for me to keep my camera and water bottle. Tané has a gentle curiosity about him intermixed with 7 year old boy energy. He rode ahead a lot, took a spill on a tight turn in the road and bounced up like he was a rubber ball, hopping back on to lead the troupe onward. He was always ready with very insightful questions about Indonesia and America, wondering how far things were, how long plane rides were and comparing my answers to his more recent experiences of flying first to Jakarta then traveling across Java with his mother.

The day after the bike tour, Katherine and Tané were planning to see Ketut of the Eat, Pray, Love fame. They invited me to join so tagged along. "Sure, why not?" I was curious myself after having read the book last summer, a gift given to my from my Indonesian American friend, Nani. If you are reading this Nani, yes, I finally went to see Ketut! I passed on the reading however, still feeling satiated from my Dukun experience two months ago in Solo, feeling like I can read myself so much more clearly now. But it was still a fun adventure. We trekked to his family compound both of us worried that maybe he has big neon signs pointing the way but it's still an old hanging sign from the same main road my guest house is on.

We entered his compound and he was in the middle of a reading with some other westerners so we waited patiently for about a half an hour. Tané kept saying he hoped Ketut would tell them that he'd have a brother or sister. In the little courtyard there were two people measuring the buildings and pathways and jotting down dimensions on paper. I told Katherine that I had heard recently they were planning a film based on the book wondering to myself if these people were involved with this somehow. As it turns out, they were measuring the compound and taking photos to send to the studio in New York that will be producing the film. They told me that they will actually film some in this courtyard. I asked if Ketut would play himself, they said they didn't think so.

Ketut's 10 year old granddaughter, an amazing little saleswoman, came out to greet us while we were waiting. She had a small portfolio of Ketut's drawings of a traditional Balinese nature with the creation scene with Brahma and some other scenes. She also had a folder with some of her own done with pastels. They (meaning hers) were amazing, whimsical, colorful AND irresistible so I bought one without bargaining or batting an eye. Somehow I just couldn't tell her "mahal sekali." I'm not disappointed with my purchase in the least. It was inspiring that a 10 year old can sell her artwork with so much charm while insisting that her grandfather's paintings contained magic but that her own did not. I beg to differ. I'm certain my drawing from her has some secret power even if just in its beauty. After we talked with her a bit about her drawings, her learning English both in school and from her grandfather the conversation came to a close, we wished her well and she said "okay see you later alligator." We all said in unison "after awhile crocodile."

Katherine got her reading while I talked with a young Dutch couple who arrived, also waiting for Ketut, the young woman having also read what was being referred to in this courtyard as "the book." One of the 'surveyors' stated to me that if I got a reading from Ketut, he would tell me that I'd live until I was ninety five, get married twice have 2-3 kids…. Katherine pretty much confirmed that came out of her reading BUT that she will live to be over 100. Tané was excited to learn that he will have a couple of brothers or sisters, his mother laughing at the thought. I was excited to learn that Tané has a lotus symbol on his back as part of his positive energy. Yeah, I can see that…

I said hello (and goodbye) to Ketut as we were leaving. He asked where I was from, I told him in my best Bahasa that I had been living in Kalimantan. He asked what I was doing there and I told him. He smiled at me with a big half toothed grin and then looked over my shoulder scanning the crowd of Japanese tourists and the Dutch couple who had gathered, waiting for his healing/reading services.



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