Friday, December 31

100th post on new year's eve

I never planned to reach the milestone of my 100th Treacle post on the last day of the year, but here I am. The sun is setting somewhere beyond the thick humid mist shrouding Bali and there is tragic music rising up from the rooms below.  Beers and wine are flowing among the guests and I've popped some ice and lemon into a fine drop of bottled water.  A seafood banquet is being prepared by the staff with black rice pudding and coconut crepes for dessert.  My Year of Expansion is coming to a close and I am ready to welcome my Year of Aspiration Without Expectation

Happy new year to everyone. Thanks for joining me in the journey of this blog over the year.  Here's  cheers to 2011 and the first day of the rest of my life.  Peace is at every step.

Tuesday, December 28

pranatos life drawing

Pranoto's is a lively, active gallery in the heart of Ubud's art community. Every Wednesday and Saturday from 10am to 1pm it hosts life drawing sessions, and while Louise was here the three of us took pencil and paintbrush in hand for a concentrated session of creativity.  After a while my scanner brain was distracted by thoughts of lunch and the state of Tom's feet.

The gallery is run by a talented artist couple, Pranoto and his Western Australian born wife Kerry Pendergrast. Pranato's confident charcoal drawings from three 10 minute poses can be seen on the easel above. He is seated below in the foreground.

Monday, December 27

nusa dua takeaway

Now that's better than an ice cream on a stick.

Sunday, December 26

boxing day on the bukit

The sun came out this afternoon so we jumped on the scooter for a short trip outside the compound.  We weren't the only ones with this bright idea; the tiny cove at Padang Padang was sprawled with bodies, the white ones in the sun and the brown skinned Indonesian ones in the shade.  Coming from a sweet life of clean and empty Aussie beaches, the public holiday scene here wasn't pretty and left us feeling a sense of impending doom about our planet.

In contrast, the shaded mossy track into Impossibles was empty and we were able to scramble over the rocks and explore the deserted shacks in peace.  The way I imagine Bali was before my time.

in the tree house

Life in the Tree House at Mick's Place is pretty sweet. This resort management thing isn't too bad; the odd hiccup of an electrical fire, gale force winds and a waterless shower give us a purpose in between pool time and smoothies. I am still in awe of grass beneath my feet, power all day, fast wireless and a fridge full of goodies. 

the making of a feast

There was a slight misunderstanding regarding yesterday's festivities; the menu given to the guests said Christmas lunch, however the kitchen staff had dinner on their mind.  When there was no action at 11.30am I started to wonder.  Thankfully the guests were happy with the late change of plans, and a seafood barbecue spread at sunset was appreciated by all.  Snapper, squid, prawns, satay chicken and beef, Thai rice, rosemary potatoes and salad.  Scoffed down just in time before a wild rain squall had us running for cover.

Saturday, December 25

christmas bali style

Spending December in Bali means avoiding the commercial build up to Christmas, the months of carols and tinsel in every shopping centre, the frantic shopathon and expectation of the big family lunch.  However, it also means the 25th crept up with quite a shock, and I find myself lamenting the lack of a tree overloaded with baubles and crowded with poorly wrapped presents.  Santa didn't stop here.

This year, Christmas almost coincided with the Balinese celebration of Galungan, a major holy day that occurs every 210 days to celebrate the victory of dharma (goodness) over adharma (evil). Balinese reflect on the harmony between the inner self and the outer world and join with their family and community to eat, pray and love. On the right side of every house is erected a penjor, a long bamboo pole decorated according to guidelines set by a high caste Hindu priest. Decorations must include agricultural products, such as rice and tubers, to symbolise man’s ownership of the bounty and his willingness to use it for right purpose. The arched habit of the pole echoes the holy Mount Agung, and is a metaphor for human beings to live with sincerity and respect for the Gods. It sure beats tinsel bought at Woolies and thrown over a plastic tree in haste.

At the base of the penjor is an ornately decorated spirit house, where offerings are made to the Gods. In the home of a newlywed couple, special woven banners hang from the spirit house and village members visit with gifts of rice, fruits and cakes. These presents are a gesture of support for the new couple, offered with blessings for a happy life together. A penjor remains in place for 35 days, throughout the extended celebrations of Galungan and Kuningan, after which it is burnt and the ashes buried inside the family compound in a final endeavour to produce fertility and prosperity.

a balinese christmas wish

Friday, December 24

christo at work?

Next time you want to decorate your town hall, take inspiration from the Balinese and don't hold back on the shiny paper. 

Monday, December 20

bambu indah, ubud

As part of our ongoing architectural adventure we visited Bambu Indah, high above the rushing waters of the Ayung River to the west of Ubud.  Part of the inspiring John Hardy empire of Green School fame, this boutique eco-accommodation is a hamlet of unique Javanese houses, once used by noblemen as bridal homes, then transported and loving restored for a new life in Bali. At the heart of the lodge is a Sumatran style house with a multi-saddle roof and vast interior perfect for yoga, parties and performances. The reception is a striking cocoon like bubble of bamboo and latex that served as a prototype for similar buildings at the Green School.

Each house has an individual theme, decorated with artifacts, textiles and accessories reflecting its name. The villa above is Kuning House (Yellow), dating from 1862, and below is Kolam House (Pond), with a stepping stone entrance over a koi pond.  Details such as beaten copper sinks, open air "rain showers" with slatted wooden floors and antique furniture make each bungalow charming and comfortable.  Beyond the rustic decor are modern touches such as wifi internet and Japanese washer-drier-high-tech loos.  It is a style the Hardy's describe as "luxury primitive".

The pool is the focus of activity, and a chance to feed your inner child with a splash on the rope swing.  The natural looking pond and river are lined with recyclable polyethylene and lava rocks, without chlorine or chemicals, which makes for a clean and refreshing swim.

muddy & moist

The rain is relentless. When it's not raining it is dripping from the trees.  The air is damp and cool, my hair is a wild mop of frizz and curl and I've had to drag my jacket from the bottom of the pack.  The perfect weather for catching up on blog posts, wandering the web and streaming live audio.  Having a fast internet connection is still a novelty and I find myself daydreaming and gazing off over the ocean waiting for things to load as would be the case back in our island home.  I have to crank my brain speed up to match the wireless.

Think I'll cozy up next to my vase of lotus, watch the snails make wet tracks across the deck and share some web love with the world.

The idea that someone has to be near a shop to buy something is so last century.  Here's a link to an Aussie website "Hard to Find", stockists of designer, handmade and unique products for the home, garden and body.  Many items have free shipping within Australia, even to the back of Bourke.

Sunday, December 19

cheap & cheerful

Our favourite place for local food at unbeatable prices is Dewa Warung on Jalan Gootama (between Jln Dewi Sita & Ubud Main Rd).  We call it "Big Steps Cafe" in reference to the huge concrete stairs leading up from the street to the double level eating area.  The Indonesian classics of nasi campur, mee goreng & gado-gado are offered along with delicate green ferns tossed in fresh coconut, full flavoured tempe and tofu curries, and peanut satay sticks (all without MSG). Suckling pig or roast duck is available if you order in advance.  Juices are big and cold and less than $1 each.  Even with two main dishes, drinks and dessert it is tough to spend over $10.  Tables are limited and communal, and dinner time can be busy. The toilet is a pretty rough squatter without paper so be prepared. 

Waiting out a wet season deluge with a cheap and cheerful lunch.

Saturday, December 18

bloomz florist, ubud

Even if you are not in the market to buy flowers, the Bloomz florist on Jalan Hanoman in Ubud is a must visit to bathe in the beauty of tropical leaf, bloom and stem, displayed like still life in an artist's studio.

Bee-hive like ginger flowers and sculptural forms on meter long stems stand beside selected accessories and jewellery created by owner Janice Lee Ripley, an artist hailing from New York.  Bloomz are the people to call upon for your next Bali wedding, exhibition or private party, and their funky bunches can be seen gracing the tables of many restaurants in Seminyak and Ubud.  Their second shop  is on Jalan Petitenget in Seminyak should you be in the area and want to order me a bunch of pink lotus flowers.

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