Monday, September 26, 2011

Morning Two in Bali

The rice fields glittered vibrant green at me from my breezy verandah on my first afternoon in my brand-new flat in Ubud, Bali. I’d spent all day looking at apartments before settling on this two-story bungalow in the suburb of Penestanan, and I allowed myself a few moments to take in my good fortune before racing off to the supermarket, unpacking, and starting in on my paying work on my laptop. I was lucky enough to be the first inhabitant of the flat. The new house ceremony, common in Bali, hadn’t even happened yet.

I hoped the Balinese gods didn’t punish me for moving in before the ceremony.

I stood up and padded around the small apartment. Bed. Chair. Closet. Desk. Power point by the desk. Oohhh, someone had been thinking ahead. Laptops like power points.

I examined the giant soaking tub in the bathroom, and contemplated what might be whirlpool jets. That reminded me I’d left my laundry soaking in the sink—best get to it. There was a washing machine somewhere on the premises, but I wasn’t yet sure where, and when I eventually did find it, I’d quickly learn to time my visits for when the staff wasn’t washing sheets and towels from the compound of guest bungalows.

The flat’s kitchen was by no means luxury, but it had a kettle, refrigerator, two-burner stovetop, and a sink. No pots or pans, but Kadek said she'd get some. Breakfast wasn’t included with my flat, but that was fine with me. Over the last year of traveling around the world, I’d eaten far more eggs than any person needs.

In search of yogurt and muesli, I headed through the rice fields, down a path in search of the main road of Penestanan, which I’d heard would lead me to a large supermarket. I came to a series of 100 steep stairs that headed through a tunnel of foliage down to the street below. These were the Champuan Steps. I climbed down them, sweating in the humidity, and walked 700 meters back uphill to Bintang supermarket. Down, then up. I bought my groceries—granola, yogurt, oatmeal, an apple, water, juice, and milk—using my nylon shopping bag I'd been carrying around the world, then dragged my food back up those steps. There had to be a better way. 

There was. I soon explored a leafy path past a yoga studio and vegetarian cafe, and that wound along a ridge almost to the back of Bintang. I'd only need the stairs for going to the center of Ubud, and I'd quickly learn to hire a motorbike taxi to bring me home up the hill. I didn't really want to be wandering through the rice paddies in the dark anyway, though I quickly learned to always carry a flashlight. 

Day One of my stay in Ubud had been about finding a flat. I fell asleep exhausted that night, happy to have found such a great place for what came out to $829—a lot by local standards, very little by tourist standards. And on Day Two, I was thrilled to enjoy a late morning breakfast of granola, yogurt, and strawberries before unpacking and dealing with work e-mails.

I pulled everything out of my backpack and dumped it on the floor. There would be no playing tourist quite yet. 

Bali was around me. That would have to be enough for the moment. 

No comments:

Post a Comment