Where has all the egg gone?
06.05.2012 - 15.05.2012 28 °C
I admit it. I’m in a complete grump. We’ve just flown back from Nusa Tengarra and I am very jealous of the travellers moving onto the next set of islands. I want to meet the whale hunters in the Pulau Solars. I want to go back to Sulawesi and see how much it has changed in ten years. I want to go and climb a ridiculously dangerous volcano. Okay, maybe not the last one.
I’m currently sat in a café in Ubud. It is like that scene from The Beach when Leo’s character goes back to the noise, bright lights, tourists and touts of the mainland. After a month and a half of illness and five weeks of eating badly cooked eggs Justin is tucking gleefully into a plateful of overpriced food…I’m grumping! We’re sat overlooking a brand new gaudy Starbucks. The traffic is horrific. Multinationals have arrived in full force. Tourists are wandering down the main street in swimming costumes. Bleurgh
We came to Ubud for our honeymoon and loved it. Remote island travelling and several years of development has taken the shine of our second visit. We head out onto the backstreets to look for a quiet homestay away from all the noise. We find a lovely little house overlooking the beautiful green paddy fields. …this is the Ubud we fell in love with three years ago.
Food and cooking has been a constant theme of our blog, but Justin has really been pushed to the bad food limit over the last few weeks. Desperate to restore Justin’s faith in Indonesian cooking I book us onto a family run cooking class with Paon Bali: www.paon-bali.com. We are picked up in the morning by the father of the house. He is really lovely and very amused by my attempts at an Indonesian accent. Apparently I sound like a government official! He slows down the typical Balinese high-speed version of Bahasa Indonesian so that I can understand and teaches us some useful Balinese phrases (completely different to Indonesian).
As with every other cooking class in Southeast Asia we walk around a morning market to learn about local foods. We are about four hours too late for the ‘real’ market, but we try some new fruits and learn about the Balinese offerings that you see adorning taxis, businesses and homes. I have a go at bargaining for some fruit, but I am notoriously bad. Last time I tried I ended up in an argument with Justin and the lady knocked 50% of the price just to get rid of us. I’d give Monty Python a run for their money: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u75XQdTxZRc
We then travel to a little village just outside Bali. Our guide goes through the politics of paddy fields – how they are distributed to families in the community, how the community comes together to plant and harvest four times a year and how they all contribute money to developing their community enterprise. It is an impressive system. It is also 100% organic, with ducks being brought in to help with clearing away the harvest and fertilising the fields. Production is up from the years they used chemical fertilisers and profit is being spent on new community facilities and businesses.
We head to our guides house to meet the rest of the family, before making a start on a huge range of Balinese dishes: kuah wong sup jamur (clear mushroom and vege soup), be siap mesanten kare ayam (chicken in coconut curry), sate siap (minced chicken grilled on bamboo sticks), kacang me santok gado gado (veges in peanut sauce), jukut urab (coconut and snake bean salad), pepesan be pasih pepes ikan (steamed fish in banana leaf), tempe me goring tempe kering (deep fried tempe in sweet soy sauce) and last but not least kolak biu kolak pisang (banana in palm sugar syrup).
My mouth is watering again just thinking about them. Yummy. The classes are informative and the group is good fun. We are made to feel very welcome by the family who show us around their home and talk about their life. Balinese culture is very interesting, wrapped up in a strong sense of community and family. I’m feeling a little ashamed of my grumping now.
We spend the next few days trying to eat two months of missed fruit and vegetable at every vegan and vegetarian café Ubud has to offer (and there are a lot). I have to stop Justin from reading the alternative medical treatments advertised on most of the menus. Lets just say that Justin isn’t a believer! I do indulge in a treatment, a lovely spa day courtesy of mum and dad. A massage, mud bath, rose bath, face pack and manicure later and I am feeling great! Justin finally finds a hairdresser…
We both go along and get hooked on early morning yoga classes at Radiantly Alive www.radiantlyalive.com. Stephanie is a great teacher and talks us through all the basics…at pace. I never thought it would be possible to sweat while stretching! We both have back and flexibility problems so yoga is really helpful. We also ended up on a very random 'downhill cycling' trip…where is the fun in that. Cycling is meant to be painful. Lunch was excellent though!
We also indulge in a little weaving (Yes weaving. We are so cool!), visiting the wonderful Threads of Life museum and shop. It is only a tiny museum, but it has a fantastic collection of all things weaving from across Indonesia. The project not only preserves heritage, but also helps set up weaving co-operatives to generate income for villages. We would definitely recommend a visit if you want to find out more and support this great organisation. The documentary on the guys going out to remote villages in Sulawesi to find rare weaving (much of which has been sold to collectors in times of poverty) and to commission work is really interesting: http://www.threadsoflife.com.