Posted by: aitzko | December 3, 2009

I go to temple and get rice on my forehead.

So far, Ubud is awesome.  Last night, I went for dinner at a really nice, very posh looking restaurant located right at the center of town, and across the street from the temple,  down the street from the Ubud Palace.  Everyone was so nice and full of smiles – I think the difference in the people between Kuta and Ubud would be like going from New York City to a small, friendly Midwestern town.  The restaurant’s atmosphere was awesome – really well decorated, friendly and attentive staff, etc.  The food was delicious – I’ve noticed that I’ve been taking lots of pictures of my food, of all things.

I had some delicious lamb chops  prepared Balinese style, and a pina colada.  The restaurant was crowded, so they sat me at the same table as a French couple.  It was actually a huge table and could have sat at least two more people, so it’s not like we were on top of each other or anything.  Halfway through dinner I realized they were speaking French, and made some conversation – who knew I’d be getting French practice in Bali??  I actually did okay, although there were a couple times when I was totally at a loss for what they were saying, at which point they helpfully translated into English.  I’m really out of practice, so it’s nice to know that it’s like riding a bike – I may be rusty, but the basics are still there!  Note to self:  must start going to meetups when I get home!

As we were eating, a procession started developing outside.  Apparently, there was a four-day ceremony going on in Ubud, and last night was the last night.  It happens about once every six months, so I’m glad I caught it!  There are tons of ceremonies in Bali – some that must be performed every day, some that happen once a week, once a month, once a year, once every five years.  It’s just a part of daily life, and everything is based of an immensely complex calendar that requires a priest to figure out.  Anyway, just as we’re eating, this huge procession starts going by!  The whole town came out.  Everyone was dressed in their best – a sarong and a white shirt for men, with a white cloth wrapped around the head, and for women, gorgeous sarongs in every color, with a bustier on top, covered by beautiful long-sleeved lace shirts.  Seriously, I put on my sarong and I felt horribly underdressed, although plenty of tourists were dressed more casually.  It was really awesome to have all this going on during dinner.  When I was finished, I went out to watch with the rest of the crowd.  Unfortunately, my pictures aren’t that great – it was dark, and I also didn’t want to be obnoxious and stick my camera in the middle of these important religious ceremonies, so I tried to be discreet, but unfortunately this resulted in pretty mediocre pictures.  I was standing to watch, when I started to talk to a couple of Balinese guys – Nick and Dito.  They asked me where I was from, of course, and how long I was in Bali, and told me about the ceremony that was going on.  A dance was being performed, that would last late into the night – until 2 or 3 in the morning.  It’s all about good and bad spirits, black and white magic.  According to Dito, the bad spirits can offer protection, while the good spirits can offer luck.

Dito offered to escort me into the temple – which was SO COOL.  I don’t think I would have been allowed in during this festival ordinarily, but since he accompanied me, it was okay.  He said I could take pictures, so I took a few without flash, and tried not to be intrusive to the people praying.  He talked to me about their religion, their ceremonies, etc. – very cool.  Then he offered to let me pray with him – “Not to my gods, to your gods!” (Side note:  I have found that attempting to explain my religion to the Balinese people is kind of useless.  G’day, my driver from Kuta, had asked me about it – when I said “Jewish,” he said “Jesus, yes?” and I said “no… Jewish.”  “Hmm, Joos”…he replied thoughtfullly.  I tried to explain, but with limited language skills, I figured it was best left a mystery.)  So we went over to the shrine, and Dito showed me how to sit like a good Balinese woman, feet tucked under your butt.  Originally, I had sat down cross-legged like him, and he laughed and told me I was sitting like a man.  He made his offering, while I tried to sit unobtrusively, and when we were finished, he blessed me with water, and showed me what to do – you take some of the water and sip it three times, then you take a bit of rice, put some on your forehead, and then put some on your collarbone, then eat a little bit.  So awesome!  We watched the ceremony a little more, and he told me about what he does – he said he’s a carpenter, an electrician, a mechnaic, a driver… I don’t know if he’s legitimately talented at all of these things, but from what I understand, it’s not unusual for the citizens of Ubud to be trained in lots of things.

So that was my awesome night.  This morning I met a great guy at my hotel, Phil from New Zealand ( or was it Will?)  He was on his way out to meet his partner in Sanur, but he said he really liked the hotel, so that bodes well.  He’s in the military, stationed in East Timor.  He suggested a walk to do that’s in the Lonely Planet guide book, and gave me some tips on things worth doing.  He also warned me to be careful – he said so many people fall in love in Bali, his partner’s Balinese!  Haha, I told him I’d watch my back.

Okay, it’s a lovely day outside and I’ve been in here too long!  This internet cafe is going to love me this week.

Tomorrow I’m taking a bike ride with Bike-Baik tours, which got great reviews on Trip Advisor (, so I’ll update on that tomorrow!

Oh, and if you talk to my mom, please tell her to keep reading my blog – she didn’t want to hear anymore after I described the Monkey Incident, it freaked her out.  No more monkeys!  And thanks, Lesley, I hadn’t known that was a thing – now I don’t feel quite so horrible about it. 🙂


  1. Yay bike riding to explore new places!

  2. What an amazing sounding trip so far!! I envy you and yes, travel while you can! 🙂 Enjoy!

  3. haha, glad i could make you feel less horrible! enjoying reading your blog… getting lots of ideas for my own bali trip!!


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