The last week was Indonesia’s biggest holiday, where the last week of Ramadan made many Indonesian’s who live in Bali return home to Java, Sumatra, etc., to be with there families. This past Saturday and Sunday, Ramadan coincided with two special days for the Balinese Hindu calendar as well. Saturday was the Balinese day of consciousness and knowledge, followed by Sunday the day of cleansing and rebirth.
These two overlapping holidays made it a very unique time where there were many processions, and a lot of local workers taking time off to spend time with their families. As we had finalized our survey, and Conservation International’s volunteer Indonesian students were on holiday, I was lucky to get the chance to go to Ubud, and spend time with some family and friends. Oka Kartini, a local hotel owner explained to me the Balinese holidays and on Sunday, her and I dined together trying both of her sons’ versions of the traditional Balinese dish nasi kuning, Indonesian for yellow rice. Sunday, the day of cleansing, is similar to our Thanksgiving, where family gathers and relaxes and eats all day long. Though I was trying to shoot back to Uluwatu to catch Ripcurl’s Padang Padang Cup to meet more stakeholders in the surfing industry, it was hard to leave Oka and the restful harmony that is Ubud.
Leaving the baking heat of the Bukit Peninsula for Ubud was a special change. First of all, Ubud has been developed for much longer than Uluwatu, and Ubud feudal leaders requested to keep Ubud as a protectorate under the Dutch rule. For this reason, the tropical jungle town of Ubud became the literary and art reserve of Bali, attracting writers and painters from around the world. Despite the busyness from the many tourists it attracts, Ubud remains a peaceful, blissful place. One of the reasons is the architecture nearly everywhere consists of long windy complex temples filled with statues, fountains, and pools.
Every hostel and hotel follows this motif (and I know as I walked through nearly all of them trying to find a place, as it was full during the jazz festival which happened to be while I was there), offering nooks with views of tropical jungle and rice paddies that would make anyone in the world want to paint or write or simply be at peace. Coming from a surf culture (or cultureless) place, it was very difficult to leave. I believe that the rapid development from surf tourism made it difficult for a place like Uluwatu to develop within the Balinese architectural style of the rest of the country, and for that reason, it lacks some of the soul that has been created around the rest of Bali.
Ubud also gets its name from the Balinese word Ubad, which means medicine. And yes, it is a very healing place. But leave, I finally did, and caught most of the Ripcurl cup, and have been given a new task that I embark on this upcoming week. I have been given a list of qualitative questions, and I am to interview hoteliers, warung owners, traveling surfers, local surfers, and non-surfing tourists to achieve a qualitative aspect for our research project, that will without doubt shed more light onto the goals we strive to achieve.