Central Ubud during the day is a growing disaster of traffic management. Tourist buses block the narrow one way streets, purging their load at the main attractions as indicated in the brochure; to pose with a monkey or temple gate and buy a wooden penis bottle opener or batik sarong. At least up here they are usually petite Japanese tottering in inappropriately high shoes and white sun hats, rather than mobs of singlet wearing mediocrity. Despite the rapid growth, Ubud still has charm, and only minutes from the veil of main street shops, the rice nods quietly and the pace slows to a saunter. It is on the side streets that I love to sit on a busted plastic stool or squat in the dirt, and eat simple Indonesian fast food, served from the back of a motorbike or beneath a busted blue tarp. Rice boiled in woven banana leaf parcels, chopped and served with bean sprouts, tofu and peanut spiced sauce is lunch for less than a dollar, leaving pocket money to spend on bottle openers.
Tuesday, October 16
Sunday, October 14
Casa Luna cooking school has charmed visitors to Ubud for over 20 years with its intimate and engaging classes. Originally one class per week, the school has expanded to offer a range of menus, six days a week, from an open air kitchen at the second Honeymoon Guesthouse. I was fortunate to attend the class as a photographer for the Ubud Writers Festival.
The class offers a sensory experience of Balinese foods from market to palate, without the dreaded washing up. Spices are ground, veggies sliced and coconut milk added to boiling curry with careful attention to stir in one direction only; a curdled curry is a fast way to lose new friends. The teacher, a jovial long time employee at Casa Luna, shares stories of ceremonial and family life over the rhythmic rocking of pestle on mortar.
We snack on lak-lak (rice pancakes with coconut and palm sugar) and hibiscus tea, as the aromas of coconut oil, garlic and shrimp paste permeate the air. The raw ingredients culminate into a feast of chicken curry, spiced eggplant, coconut sambal and urap (bean coconut salad), served on a banana leaf plate. We leave with the desire for a post-lunch snooze and a greater appreciation for authentic Balinese food.
Tuesday, October 9
The Ubud Writer's Festival is over for another year, and I am recovering from the excitement with an early morning coffee at Anomali. In my role as a photographer I attended a wide gamut of events, including a market tour and cooking class at the now famous Casa Luna Cooking School. A traditional Balinese breakfast of lak lak (mini rice pancakes with grated coconut and palm sugar) was had by the brave ones, as the guide described the spices, rices and prices in the central market. I bought a kilo of fresh vanilla beans and a sarong in between snaps and nibbles.
Friday, October 5
The family behind Samudra had a dream to create a large scale permaculture garden on their property near Carbanup and supply themselves and as many friends as possible with fresh, vibrant, organic live food. In little over a year, previously grazed paddocks have been mulched, sculpted and transformed into raised beds, orchards and dams. Two full time staff are supported by a weekly roster of volunteers that trade their time for a bursting box of goodness. On a glorious sunny spring equinox afternoon I was given the task of picking kale, and was rewarded with a big bunch for my green smoothies. This and the joy of being close to friends, nature and an inspirational garden.