Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Saxman returns to Bali

Bali Blog 2012 #1

Well here I am once again in the ricefields of Ubud, it was 6 years ago since my first visit to Bali and there have been some changes. I'll go into this later, but the trip started on 10th July, and with NZ's winter in full swing the idea of escaping to warmer climes really appealed! 

Air New Zealand is now flying direct into Denpasar, however it arrives at the not so friendly time of 12.30 a.m. The temperature at this time was a more than pleasant 26 deg. Luckily I went through visa and customs fast and into a taxi to my hotel down in Sanur on the coast. Shown to my room just before 2 a.m. by the Balanese porter, my body clock was on 6 a.m. NZ time, and not having slept much on the plane the porter then switches on the TV. I asked him to switch it off, then he asked if I want "Massage!" He had less chance than zero on that question. I was awake by 6 a.m. and a dog was barking in the hotel corridor. Oh yes, I said "now I remember Bali".
Walking around at 8 a.m. in shorts and tshirt along the beach at Sanur with its colourful boats was in stark contrast to the frosty days of Nelson NZ. My early morning stroll before the tourists had stirred, all the deck chairs are out on the beach ready to go. There is a strange mix of shanty town type food stalls right next to the up market beach frontage hotels with all the swagger and glitz of a Gold American Express card.

Heading back to the hotel for breakfast with a lazy morning in mind, I indulged in a couple of dips in the pool.

Oh I thought, what tough life I lead, lazing around by the pool, what would my father think about this. Read some, took photos, soaked up some sun etc - 4 hours of this was more than I could handle so off I headed north to Ubud.

I booked a taxi for Ubud which arrived mid afternoon, the ride only 23.3 kms stated by my iPhone app should have taken 33 minutes, but this taxi ride took nearly 90 minutes due to the schools coming out. Cars, motorbikes, trucks and bicycles were all competing for the same narrow road space.

Finally arriving in Jalan Raja Ubud (the main street) at 5.30pm with traffic and people everywhere I had an hour to wait, so what else could a saxman do? Yup I played the sax, gee it was fun, people were smiling, an American Jazz singer stopped on her motor bike to introduce herself, the Italian icecream shop owner (Fabio) across the road offered a free icecream when I finished (of course I refused - yeah right!). Tourists were putting money in my sax case and my accommodation contact Marco from Italy, who I'd booked 6 weeks ago to stay the first three days in Ubud, also turned up managing to get all my gear including sax case on the back of his little motorbike for the short ride to his place.

Marco is quite a character,  plays guitar and has always wanted to play the saxophone, so I gave him a blow. I was impressed by his sound, now he wants to find a saxophone.

Number one priority was to find a place to stay, this at the height of the tourist season, so I walked around the areas I rented in last time. The exact place was being rebuilt so therefore not available, but in  the near vicinity many new buildings and a lot in the process of being built. After lot of walking, many trips on the back of motorbikes being taken to possible houses to rent, all were not suitable or to my liking.  Following a little sign nailed to a post I found Sentana. A sweet little villa with 1 bed, kitchen, hot shower and bath, far enough way from other buildings not to bother other people with my saxophone playing. Still I'm sure all the surrounding neighbours know of me by now. I am competing with the sounds of building going on during the day, so far no complaints.

This is the view I wake up to each morning

Sentana is named after the owner's 3 year old son, he comes around and watches me play, (this happens at home too). Slowly but surely he's getting closer every visit and likes it when I play "Pink Panther".
The house only has two chairs both of which have arms making it difficult to play a sax, so I (ahem) improvised with the bedside drawer cabinet. You may notice I play without a neck strap, resting the sax on the seat, this way there is no weight on my neck, which is rather important for holding my head up. I do get up and stretch every 15 minutes, also essential.
This little sentient being landed on my porch, sort of shows off the vibrancy of Bali, as does the dragon fruit below. I asked a lady in the supermarket what these were like, she said "pretty tasteless".

They look beautiful and at only $1 each I bought one.
No complaints from me they are now regulars in my grocery basket.

This is another matter, I'm getting visits in the night, so far it's eaten my soap, opened and eaten boxes of matches and knocked things off the shelves. The local way of trapping rats is to spread on a piece of ply some very sticky, superglue and sprinkle some food on it. We had a near miss with a lot of hair and skin left behind, we will see if it comes to a sticky end. Update - yes he did, I won't post a photo though, your nature is too delicate!
The American Jazz singer invited me to play some sax on her latest CD which is being recorded in a local studio, and this is Lloyd from the Cotswalds in UK who is doing the studio mixing.

This marked the day I lost a screw out of my Soprano saxophone due to me wheeling the sax case around the bumpy streets of Ubud, and so far I haven't found a replacement.
At Bali Buddha, well known in Ubud for its restaurant and shop, this is their free carrier bag which caught my eye.
Just your standard Bali entrance way, so lovely,

This week I noticed a lot of preparation for some upcoming event at the Ubud Palace. It was a very special funeral and I will cover it more fully in my next blog, but here are a few teasers. 

This is a lot of Bull - adora..bull!

The Bali equivalent of NZ number 8 wire is string and bamboo.

Stairway to Heaven on a Pentatonic scale.

Lets face it, you're a devil, really!

This for me sums up Bali. Incredible art, motorbikes and tourists all in abundance.

Till my next Blog




Sam Young said...

Hey Jimu,
Sounds like you & Christine are having a great time :-)
You aren't missing much - it has pretty much rained on and off since last Saturday, so I would stay on in the tropics if I were you.

Jan & Sam

Jimu said...

Hi Sam,
Christine is still at rainey Rosedale
Ciao J

Hannah said...

Nice opening blog for Bali :-) Didn't even know you were over there. Enjoy! Most in NZ will be envious reading. Hannah

Phil said...

Good to get your blog. Nice photos. I recognised the tooth marks on the soap. Check your bags before you leave!
Cheers Bro.

Jimu said...

Thanks Hannah
I only tell you the good bits... but this hot weather 27 daytime 23 nightime, oh it's so hard to bare, give me Wellywood any day!

Jimu said...

No need Bro that rat is permenently "stuck" in Ubud.