Purple Auras in Ubud.

On the way to my guesthouse I pass a lot of stores and trendy coffee shops. Most of the houses are built in a traditional Balinese style with lots of beautiful ornaments. The streets are clean and have sideways so that it’s easy to walk and safe access to all the shops.This place looks very different than Kuta. It has a much more artistic feel to it.

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The travelers are different here too. Lots of higher budget travelers who take yoga classes, and walk around with mats, so that they are easy to recognize. There are also many Chinese tourists who like ice-cream a lot and go to the Monkey Forest. And there are backpackers who are probably struggling to stay on their budget here as there is a lot of good stuff on offer, healthy food, happy hours, tours, shops and guesthouses with swimming pools.

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I’m staying in a guesthouse that is very centrally located this time, in a side alley of one of the main roads in Ubud, with again, a beautiful courtyard and friendly staff with limited English. They try to sell me tours, yoga lessons and cooking classes and find it hard to believe that I’m traveling alone, staying for five days, and that I’m not interested in booking any of these activities.”Also no motorbike? Bored for you, miss Laura.” Thank you, maybe later.

Instead I go to the rice fields. I discovered a small path that goes right behind one of the busy streets and gets you there easily. It’s a different world out there. Quiet. Green.  Beautiful. I walk for hours through some tiny villages and on my way back I stop for a drink in a small café where I can practice my Bahasa.

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That evening I meet an Australian guy who lives in Ubud. He introduces me to raw food and reads my hand and my aura, and tells me it’s purple. Apparently, that’s a good thing. Many people walking around here have purple auras, he explains. I’m happy that it’s all good.

The next day I walk to the Monkey Forest. Moneys are sitting around near the entrance and while I’m watching them, I again come to the realization that I’m not too crazy about monkeys. I don’t like them jumping on me and that they can grab and hold on to things until they get them. A few years ago I was in a National Park in Thailand and my sister bought an ice- cream and just when she was about to enjoy her first bite, a small, sneaky monkey jumped on her, took it and jumped in a tree where he ate the ice cream right in front of us. I decide to skip the Monkey forest and walk back to my quiet rice fields, where I cross paths with a nice French traveler. We spend the afternoon chatting and exploring some local villages and share some beers.

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We discover more small bars with full view of the rice terraces. It’s very peaceful and there are hardly any people.

I might have missed out on all the tours, yoga and most of the other excitement Ubud has to offer, but I am very glad to be here and to do it just my own way. Next destination: Nusa Lembongan.

 

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Dark Alleys and Beach Activities in Kuta

October, 2015

I was quite unprepared when I arrived in Bali.

I left my hotel in Bangkok at 4 A.M the night before. I had been on a lovely holiday with a friend from home and we spent our last night having drinks.  I was still slightly drunk in my taxi to the airport. I slept on the plane, thankfully there were a lot of empty seats. There are advantages to booking the first flight in the morning.

At the airport in Bali I realize that I need to visit an ATM and that I’m not very aware of the currency.  I have no idea about the prices, and distances on the island. I don’t even have a guidebook. I did book a guesthouse, somewhere not very far from the airport, in Kuta.

I see taxi drivers everywhere. I decide to take one from the airport counter, thinking that they probably have the best rates. Wrong. I pay 7 euro’s for a 4 minute ride. My guesthouse is so close to the airport that I could have walked it easily.

The atmosphere seems friendly. People smile and speak enough English to communicate. My room has a soft bed and comes with a small seating area  facing a beautiful courtyard. It feels very relaxing.

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After a few hours I’m getting a bit hungry. I walk through the small alley my hotel is in and end up on a bigger street with lots and lots of scooters. They all drive fast and people don’t smile much. I conclude that I’m not in the tourist center of Kuta, more on the edge of it, in a local neighborhood.It’s a system of small alleys and bigger roads. Lots of dogs are hanging out in packs on the side of the streets.  There are some small eateries, no people in them. It’s starting to get dark. I’m not sure what this neighborhood feels like at night, and I decide to pick up some small groceries and walk back to my guesthouse, before I get lost. I hope that there will be no dogs in the alleys, and I feel slightly worried.

The next day I decide to walk the other way. I discover that the location of my guesthouse is really not bad, at daytime. Just a long alley and I’m right at the corner of Kuta Beach surrounded by hordes of tourists. I walk down the beach and find myself right in the center, where all the action is. A huge crowd of people is standing on the beach, very closely together. I wonder if something has happened and walk a bit closer. Then I discover that a  local is telling them that the tide is coming in and that they have to stand and wait until the water reaches them. I personally don’t feel much of a challenge in this “ wait for the wave” game, but a surprisingly large amount of people seems to think it’s exciting.

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I continue walking and end up in one of the “ Poppies” the small lanes that form the center of Kuta. I see lots of people, bars, restaurants, shops and even though I’m really thirsty, stopping somewhere doesn’t appeal to me. I continue walking until I’ve seen most of the Poppies and walk to the other side of the beach. I’m very close to the airport now and there are hardly any people on this side which makes me feel more comfortable.

I put my feet into the water. The ocean is surprisingly cold compared to the Andaman Sea. The sand is black on this part of the beach. Black sand always makes me feel like I’m in a really exotic place. It makes me happy. I decide to book a bus for the next day and to see what more Bali has to offer.

 

Part III, a quick goodbye

The third day.

Two bottles of whiskey for breakfast. My Toba guy couldn’t leave, too drunk, too lost. After a long day and evening he is desperate and threatens me with a knife.    I run, leave my big backpack behind.

Morning ferry, Independence day, off to Beristagi, the town with a cabbage monument. Lightening clears my vision. A new adventure starts.

Flashback, part II

One day later

Someone calls me from a restaurant, the  lighter guy from the night before. I join. A great conversation and an exciting jump in the lake follows. We are having a blast. He makes me relaxed and nervous at the same time. I want to kiss him and he wants to kiss me. It turns out to be a public kiss, watched by an army of  hotel staffmembers .

Day turns into evening and we get hungry. We share a fish. My lightening guy tells me a horror story- about fish bones piercing the stomach. I think chances are higher we get eaten by a cannibal.

A Text message from my Toba guy. Where I am, with who, and when I come home. After yesterday It makes me scared. I tell him I am almost on my way. Get nervous. We pay and leave.  My legs are shaking, I feel unsafe.

We walk back to my place. Four big guys. One of them telling us he eats people. Shit, just what I need. My Toba guy is nowhere to be found. According to his friends he is in a club, looking for girls. I walk up and down to my room, see if he is there. Nothing. Check my essentials again. I am afraid for his moods. Maybe he knows about my kiss.

He comes back finally. Acts normal. The atmosphere is much more relaxed now, though I am afraid it is just an act  Lightening  leaves and I stay.  I Talk to my Toba guy and tell him what happened. I kissed someone and want to leave. He gets mad. I calm him down. We agree that he will leave, before me. For a short holiday, so he doesn’t have to lose face.

Flashback

Last year, Lake Toba, Sumatra. I woke up early. Doors were kicked, hit, out of the blue. I lay in bed, pretending to be asleep, afraid that I would end up as a target. Thinking, about my way out- who to turn to. Knew no one, apart from some local people. I thought about the essentials. What to take: passport, money, cards, some clothes, and whatever more I still had in my handbag. How to stay safe and how to survive. After twenty minutes it was over. He calmed down and went back asleep. Next to me.

A few hours later. He was working. First in the garden, then at the restaurant. Seven days a week from eight in the morning until midnight, sometimes later.  A hard knocked life. No money, no parents, no possessions, no freedom. He came back for a smoke. I told him that I had been awake and afraid. He would never hit me, he swore.

I walked into a restaurant. Try to come up with something. A plan. What to do. Someone asks me for a lighter. I order a beer. The lighter  guy asks me about my life story. A very direct question. That makes me shy, I prefer to lead the questions. I decide to tell. I Six months earlier I had fallen in love with a proud man from Lake Toba.  I came back, but realized that it was too hard to overcome all the differences.

I tell my company goodbye, pass  the orchestra of frogs down the road and walk back. Into  the night.