A Family Post from Ubud

We’re safely up in the mountains in Ubud now.  If there was ever a view prettier than the one from our hotel in Manggis, this would be it.  (We continue to apologize for not posting any pictures yet–we need dedicated internet access for long period of time to do that, and that’s hard to come by.  We’ll do that in Jakarta, although that may take about six days to get all of these pictures up.)

Ubud is an artsy town, no doubt.  The HPSI factor (hippies per square inch) here may be unequalled anywhere else in Southeast Asia.  We wandered around a bit yesterday.  After being in a secluded beachfront resort, we returned to reality with people following us down the street asking to drive us places.  Dad got a first-hand experience with frustration, Indonesian-style, as we attempted to change money yesterday.  First the money changer told us to wait, then to sit down, then even our driver got frustrated, said "what’s going on," she said "we’re closed," then we asked "how long," and then she said, "OK, now we’re open."  Then she wouldn’t accept the traveller’s checks.  But greenbacks go over pretty well.  Down the street at another money changer (who we had to wake up first), we asked if he needed a passport, which he did not, but then changed his mind, and said that he did.  We then visited an ATM.  Easy as pie.

(Here’s mom.)  Hey, all.  Fascinating trip.  Early in the week we went on a little tour of the countryside near our first hotel in Manggis..  They took us on very narrow back roads to a small textile factory.  There was one guy designing the patterns and three young women working at ancient hand looms.  Fabrics have natural dyes, and of course I bought a sample.  We also went to the hotel’s "private organic garden"  which was a garden plot at the top of a mountain.  There was basil, lemon basil. rocket, turmeric, eggplant, chilis and the organic fertilizer factory (cow).

We see children everywhere, and they are so cute! They have large dark eyes and when they see a Westerner, they gaze gravely.  There are many schools because schoolchildren all wear uniforms (each school different).  Although folks in the countryside are very poor by western standards, they do not look thin or hungry.  Indeed, how could they be when breadfruit, papaya, coconut, banana, and snakefruit are hanging from every tree?  Our driver told us that he eats meat only occasionally, on a special occasion, and main protein sources are tofu and tempe.  (Mother this is free range chicken heaven.  You need but to travel to Bali to find your 2.5 lb chicken!)

Today our plan is to see some museums, check out some crafts and shops and gardens, and then take a walk with a naturalist through the countryside outside of town.