Palm reading, Batik painting and spa

Posted on November 21, 2014

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My night out on the tiles ruined me. This year has been a rather sober one and I have clearly lost my capacity to bounce back from hangovers. The morning after started sloooow and the day did not really improve until my first drink in the evening. I’m in the beautiful, hip and cool town of Ubud. I will definitely come back here, but off season. I can imagine it’s horrendous in peak season.

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Our pension is stunning and I can hardly believe it’s costing me £10 a night. The family who run is are wonderful and they have built a small Hindu temple inside the grounds. The rooms are as ornate as our front door which looks like the entrance to a palace!

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Before hitting the town we loaded up on some fantastic Thai food at a local cafe. The neighbourhood of central Ubud is tiny and you can cover it pretty quickly by foot.

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Ubud has a wonderful chilled atmosphere about it. It is yoga central and most places shut around 11pm. There’s a clean living attitude here. You don’t come to Ubud to party you come for enlightenment and detox.

There are some very beautiful temples, a monkey forest filled with macaques and glorious boutique clothes and jewellery shops with affordable and chic designs. My backpack has since gained weight, it is now 5kg heavier than when I started the trip. Despite all the scoffing I think I am somewhat lighter from carrying it on my back in the hot sun!

There’s also kitsch-ness like everywhere that’s a little bit cute in this place – think Palm Springs, CA. This dog’s hair was the same colour as my wig from the night before. In fact I thought it was wearing my wig.

Scrat went over to investigate. She squealed as the owner handed her he pooch, “Her name is Jello, she’s so soft and smells of strawberries,” she told me beaming. Says it all really.

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After a lot of mooching and some shopping we went for dinner at Soma, which is part of the Slow Food Movement in Bali. This place is vegan, veggie, raw as well as organic with a brilliant innovative menu. The food was fantastic and the fresh juices unusual. There were a few ingredients I had never heard of before. I was impressed with the quality of cooking. I wish more non meat places would replicate this way of thinking. I’m so bored of seeing feta/goats cheese and beetroot salad; mushroom or butternut squash risotto and baked aubergine with parmesan – somebody shoot me!!!

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Yesterday was Scrat’s actual bday. Both of us have had recent experiences where we’ve visited local holy men who have done our readings in different parts of Asia (mine India, hers China). I am by no means superstitious, nor am I religious but I am curious. We both wanted to see if what has been said in the past would be said again by someone else.

It was a mission but we found this guy who had been recommended and he lives really far out of town in a tiny village. His house is so complicated to find he had to direct the cab driver. The first thing you notice are his nails. On both his hands are what looks like talons. His nails are so long they have started to bend and curl like long ribbons of tagliatelle. I would have taken a picture but it really wasn’t appropriate.

We arrived at his home where he gave us each 30mins of his time, at a cost of course! He got my character spot on and said somethings that surprised even a cynic like me.

We got back to our pension at midday ready for the next challenge – Batik painting. To say that it is labour intensive is an understatment. After coming up with a design which you draw onto canvas with a pencil, you then have to dip a wooden pen into boiling wax and cover the outline. Then comes the fun part, painting. The paint is then covered in paraffin to protect the colour while the background is dyed. The canvas is then prepped, boiled and finally washed. The whole process takes about 4 hours. I loved every bit of it. It was so good to be involved in something creative and to channel all my energy into it. I was exhausted afterwards.

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We rewarded ourselves with an hour and a half spa treatment and meal at the Maya Ubud. This resort is insane. Absolutely stunning grounds set into a hillside. It’s so large they guests can, if they wish, be ferried around by a golf buggy. Scrat and I suitably relaxed and stuffed head into town to grab some martinis and listen to live music. It’s been a magical ten days with my lovely friend. She is super easy to travel with, never complains, loves trying new things and I will happily go on another adventure with her if time and money permits.

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Posted in: Asia