Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Biking and Cooking

Salumat Datang, Welcome to Blog #2 from Bali.

Doesn’t the time go quick! Its over 3 weeks since I left NZ. Lots to report, I’ve attended a Balinese Cooking Class, had a massage & biked around Ubud & surrounding areas this last 10 days. Casa Luna is the restaurant owned by Janet De Neefe the Australian woman who runs the Balinese cooking class. We all went to the Ubud Market, for a quick guided tour by one of the locals. Much better being shown around with somebody who knows their way around! First stop was at the green Jelly & coconut milk drink’s woman (called Daluman) only 1000 rps per glass, very tasty & sweet. They use a local green grass which is pounded into pulp & palm sugar, from the coconut tree. We traipsed around after the guide, an Indonesian man who took us to various stalls explaining veggies & other foods. We (about 15 of us, including Dutch, Americans, Belgians, Canadians, & English in this group, plus a Kiwi) went back to the Hotel, for morning tea & nibbles, the tea was actually Hibiscus flower cold drink, tasty & sweet. This class was supposed to be the Vegetarian day however we cooked fish in the form of mackerel (Spanish!!!) & one dish had rice paddy eel, which is quite small, & were told that at full moon they jump out of the water & that’s how they catch them. There’s a full moon next week so I’ll have a look although I won’t be frying them up! We all had a go with the Bali version of a mortar & pestle, to grind up the very spicy ingredients into a paste. They believe in combining the 5 tastes in every meal & dish, so something very potent has to go into balance something very sweet, or salty, so it’s a very powerful combination, the only mildish part of the meal was the rice & noodles which were also spiced up. They only use one hand (the right) to stir food or to eat with, the traditional way is only with the hand, no cutlery! Plenty to eat here and we finished off with green colored banana pancakes, also sweet inside.

My first Bali massage was from a man whose brochure had recommendations from visiting Massage therapists, that he had worked on & had been giving massage since 1972 & this convinced me to try him out! A 1 hour massage from this guy only cost 100000 Rps = $18nz) He had very fleshy hands with quite a bit of weight behind them, his kneading technique very strong. Really knew his acupressure points & found lots of points I didn’t know I had, zinging away from the foot points, tingling up into my groin & even under the armpit at my ribcage! For someone so experienced, his table (which was low & wide) had no face hole & my feet were not supported off the bed making it somewhat uncomfortable when lying on my front when my legs were being pressed & squeezed. He seemed to spend a lot of time with my lower legs & calf muscles especially where they connect at the knee & ankle. Walking home these areas certainly knew I’d had a massage.

Renting a pushbike was the next adventure! Got one for 2 days for 25000, which is less than $2.50nz per day. Biked about 4 kms out to Goa Gajah to look at the Caves which were fairly ho hum, although I did have to put on one of their Sarongs (nice purple one) to cover up my legs. Very hot weather! I saw a young school boy knocked down by a motorbike crossing the road, interesting all his class mates returned for him and were really concerned, he was alright although obviously shaken! A timely reminder for me to be careful with the traffic & to be more attentive while cycling! At the Football field in Central Ubud, they were actually playing football, women’s five aside, very amateurish playing, but incredibly well supported crowd wise. Sorted out where to go on the bike for the next days ride, & biked up the hill toward the mountains! Steady climbing all the way, road directions very sketchy, Got onto a stretch of road which was heading downhill, & all of a sudden there I was back at Ubud main street! So headed uphill again, on & on past more carvings, and all manner of gifts, not really worth having. Many of the shops have their wares piled up high out the front, out to dry or actually working on the carvings or painting something. As I constantly pedal uphill, I wonder, who buys all this stuff, there’s literally mountains of it, they’re all hard at it, producing. Even out in the sticks, people are sitting on the bare earth or concrete, holding the carving with their feet while they chip or pare with the chisels and knives they use, no handles on them, often in family groups. Some of the carvers have teams of young guys churning stuff out. The wood itself seems very easy to carve, light in structure.

I came to an obvious tourist trap, many buses stopped. The view of the terraced paddy fields impressive, the hoards of sellers oppressive, almost aggressive. One woman thought I was angry at her because I didn’t buy her bananas. The shops, galleries and workshops far outweighed the Tourists 100 to 1, which makes it tough all round. I intended to bike uphill to the next junction & go east then head downhill. Even a major signposted junction giving three directions with names, my map had no mention of, however the locals, who are often sitting at warungs (roadside eateries) or in the shade with mates shouted me over to help me out & and off I head downhill. A bunch of young guys carving heads of the Buddha, called out to me and invited me to sit amongst them which I did, teenagers mostly with that inquisitive cheeky manner, keen to ask questions!

Biking down hill many beautiful views of terraced rice fields, the women always carrying objects on their head, sometimes holding with one hand or even carrying other things with both hands, making the top load a complete balancing job. They usually have a rolled up towel or a special soft ring between the head & the load. It’s often baskets, or pots, but can also be plant material, foods in raw form, or steel buckets full with dirt or rocks! To see how these very heavy loads are lifted up for the last woman, while they have their own head load on board, is quite a tricky job! The women are part of the construction industry here in Bali, teams of them will shovel shingle off non tipping trucks, shift dirt, & rocks, etc and I recently saw them help, pouring concrete on the building site. Sunday afternoon right on Monkey Forest Road the men were using the mixer, but the women fetched the shingle & cement. Dumping into the mixer, straight from the head. Another team of women are bucketing it up to the second story, hand to hand then down a chute to its final destination.
I have decided to stay away from getting my laptop wirelessly connected to the internet & focus on the tasks I came to Bali for, which are coming along nicely. Next week I’m going to rent a Yamaha Nuovo motorbike $5nz/day plus petrol & go further afield, mostly on day trips. In 3 weeks I’ve watched no TV, nor read a newspaper, it’s gotta be good!

It’s open warfare in the Rice fields at the moment, coming up to harvest, the battle is being won by the patient, attentive farmers, on human scarecrow duty, so far it’s keeping the birds at bay! I will be blogging this from the Fly Café, who have a wireless hotspot & if I take my laptop the first hour is free then 10,000 Rps/hr, which at less than $2 nz appeals to my still strong Scottish nature!

Selumat Tinggal (Goodbye to the person staying) till next Blogtime.

1 comment:

philip bro said...

Hi Jim, Good to get your info. we are well here mum is chirpy looking forward to her trip away, Julian is staying over at a friends place, Hannah is at the defiant stroppy, unreasonable stage who wants to stay out all night, and can't see anything wrong with that. Teri is training for a half marathon and my squash team is through to our team final. Its biz as usual.
Bro and Co.