Ubud: meeting the scruffy hippieIs it my third day in Bali already? At first, two weeks seemed too long and now, I seem to be hurtling towards the end of my journey.
I finally met Richardo - the damn hippy I mentioned in a previous entry. He's actually from Australia - born and bred - but he considers himself from Chile, where his parents originated. He told me alot about the prejudice of white Australians against migrants that he really doesn't consider himself Australian. How to describe him - well, he's scruffy-looking. Dreads and all. I think I have a prejudice against men with long hair and facial hair.. I dunno - they're crazy! But Richardo, he seems like a nice guy. I found out that he has a Masters degree in GIS, and a BSc. in biology. Common interest much? The hippy has a brain! hehee.. sorry, I'm not being fair to hippies but he's gotta clean up before he makes a good impression on me. Actually, when I think about it, he's more sativa's type. Musician, dreads, need I say more?
Last night, we went to the Jazz cafe to watch a local band that had a combination of modern and local instruments. They were good but man, were they stuck in the early 80's, as Richardo said. I really liked it when they played contemporary Indonesian music but songs like Roxette (??) made me want to roll my eyes a lot. But the white tourists seemed to really like it. They were pretty quiet when Indonesian music was playing but when bad ang moh music came on, they got all excited and sang along. sigh. You could see where the tide was turning so they ended up playing mostly 80's western music.
Got to know Richardo much better - he's quite a character. He's on this year-long world trip and had spent nights on a roof in Japan. I dunno - how come I never meet the cute, clean-cut guys with a job? Always the backpackers with no money.
But Richardo, he's pretty sweet to me so far and he's already suggesting that we travel together around Bali - because of my linguistic skills (he hee) and his... dreads. In any event, I am actually quite intrigued with the idea of travelling with the scruffy hippie although he gets me so mad sometimes like insisting that flying foxes are marsupials. What the hell?
I told him about my plans of going over to Lombok, and he was very interested - especially when I told him a bit of the island, including the Wallace line. We're both in an agreement that Ubud is very touristy and that we want to see more of the real Bali. He says that I probably won't like Kuta and its surroundings because it really caters to the tourists. And I must say, it really bugs me to see all these tourists for some reason. Today, we had lunch at this place where these Americans were so boisterous, while watching a baseball game. I don't know - for some reason, it really bothered me. Especially seeing all these white chicks walking around, barely clothed. The men are pretty bad too - walking around shirtless, displaying their hairy chests! There's something really wrong with that.
I do love the Balinese people however. They are so friendly. I like talking to them and getting to know more about their culture. Getting to know the losmen family more and I'm very fond of the daughter who's about five years younger.
So today, Richardo and I went on a bike ride. It turned out to be.. an interesting experience. First of all, the bikes from the losmen weren't maintained so Richardo spent a couple of hours fixing the bikes. Needless to say, he's in good books with the scary looking losmen dude. Then cycling around the main street of Ubud turned out to be a hairier experience than I expected. I saw an accident right in front of me! And the hills are so steep - the last time, I rode a bike, I got thrown off while going down a hill. The experience still traumatizes me so I'm really nervous about going down hill. And going up hill was such a bother too because the gears on my bike weren't working. I pretty much walked more than I cycled!!! But it was worth it, I think getting out of central Ubud.
We stopped at the Neka Art Museum where I saw lots of Balinese boobies on canvas. Then, we tried to find where the rice paddies were - there was this path that we were very interested because it was by the river. But alas, after much bother, bringing the heavy bikes up and down stairs (Richardo had to help me lots of time - at one point, even this Balinese woman with a mound of fruit on her head, helped carried my bike!!!), and cycling a bit on some nice rice paddies - we found out that the path was closed. So it was really frustrating.
At this point, I got really irritated at Richardo because he wouldn't believe the local people when they said that this street didn't exist, this temple wasn't there. So typical white guy, I tell you. So when he wanted to check out this road where two women had already told me that no temple existed, I told him that I was just going to go off on my own. And he took off without saying goodbye!
So, I'm pretty pissed because I thought that was rude. And I'm grumbling to myself as I cycled/walked the way back. The steep hills didn't help much either. Got back to the losmen, met new guests - from KL, washed my grimy face, and walked towards the pasar. Perhaps some shopping would cheer me up, I thought.
And what do you know, I meet Richardo on the way!
"Cayce!" he exclaimed, "what happened to you? I was so worried? Didn't you say that you were going to wait for me?"
Good grief - I felt so bad for being very annoyed at him for what turned out to be a miscommunication. I apologized, and apologized until the kerbaus came home.
I guess, just because he's got dreads and facial hair and this hole in his shirt, doesn't mean that he's this rude, crude hippy. But then again, the day is still young.
Tomorrow, the plan is that we rent a motorbike and take a day trip to Besakih - stopping along the way to see the sights, and a couple of towns. Richardo's pretty useful in the sense that he can ride a motorbike plus he's very handy with the tools. It would be much cheaper I guess, if we were to travel together. He said that we could share a room and I stared at him rather doubtfully so he quickly assured me that most rooms have two beds instead of a double bed like our losmen.
He's very interesting - I have to admit. He lives very simply, and hasn't watched tv for years! And if you squint, he kinda looks like Eric Bana - ERIC BANA!!! But then he has crazy ideas like spending a night in the forest (Gunung Batur) without a tent, and hiking the mountain on his own because he doesn't trust the guides. That rather bugs me because aiyah, these white people, they come to our country, they distrust the locals and they think they know better than we do. The trails in the national park that I work in may be easy but plenty of white guys have gotten lost on their own! And then it's such a bother and expense to find them again but the good thing is that they're often very chastised and very mosquito-bitten when found so hopefully, they won't do this again.
Just in case, you have any ideas, I'm actually having the time of my life right now. Of course there are some frustrating moments but it all adds up to a more rich experience. It wouldn't be as much fun if it was easy. Really, really love the Balinese culture and people.
Still unsure whether I want to travel with the scruffy hippie. Gonna take each day as it comes.