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Tuesday 21 May 2013
Ubud, Indonesia

Farewell, my friend!

Ailsa's last day!

We had breakfast on the terrace by the pool with Jim and Klaas. We'd seen a big monitor lizard twice in the hotel gardens, but this morning he made a memorable appearance, scurrying across the terrace with a huge fish in his mouth which he'd presumably stolen from the kitchen. It was so big he could hardly carry it, but that didn't seem to be slowing him down!

Ailsa and I spent the morning wandering around Ubud and nosing in the shops and markets for jewellery and other presents to send home. I booked into a batik painting class at the Nirvana art school and then we went back for more of that delicious roast suckling pig. We just had time to swap our photos before Ailsa's transfer to the airport arrived. I went with her to Denpasser to say goodbye.

The last two weeks have been brilliant but have gone far, far too quickly! It has been so much fun to travel with my best friend again and share some of the memories. Thankfully, Intrepid came up trumps after the Myanmar trip and redeemed our faith in them. Our guide Sukio was fantastic, the trip was so well organised that it took the effort out of everything and we were able to sit back and enjoy the fantastic island of Java. All the local guides we used were great and were able to tell us so much about their places and sights. I'm very glad we didn't cancel this trip after all.


Coming back to Ubud without Ailsa felt very strange, but it was nice that a few of our group were still around. I had dinner with Jim, Klaas, Aimee, Chris and Lynda at the Lotus Cafe. It was a little pricier than some of the other places we'd been but the food was delicious and the surroundings were beautiful. There was a long pond of lillies in the middle of the garden, surrounded by raised bodegas where we sat on cushions around low tables. At the back of the garden we had a free view over into a Balinese dance show, another variation on the show we went to last night.


19th May 2013


Chris, Lynda and I spent the morning at a Balinese cooking school with a french guy called Francois. Our teacher was a very young looking girl named Weewee (I know it is childish, but I still had to giggle a little bit!). She took us on a tour of the local market and introduced us to a variety of local vegetables, herbs and spices. Back in the restaurant, she then gave us bits of each herb to try, incluing a few chillis (only Chris was brave enough to try the little green chilli and then couldn't taste the next three things he was offered).

We started off making up a Base Gede spice paste, which is used as the basis for most Balinese dishes. We made each dish as a group, taking turns to chop, mix, stir and fry as appropriate. The best part was of course eating each course as we went along. It really was delicious. Once again, I have a cookbook to add to my shelf at home and promise myself now that I will use it. Who knows, when I get home I might even do it this time!

The funniest part of the whole thing was a classic 'curiosity-killed-the-cat' moment. I used the toilet before leaving and discovered it was one with a few extra buttons and dials. I got curious... There was a dial on one side which apparently didn't do anything, so I pressed the button on the other side and a little lever appeared from under the back of the seat. (I should point out at this stage I was standing to one side facing a clean toilet.) So I pressed another button, and suddenly a jet of water shot out of the top of the lever, past my head and hit the back of the door and kept going! I couldn't make it stop, so I did the only logical thing and shut the toilet lid, which just meant the water sprayed out the sides instead. When I finally got it to stop there was water everywhere and I was giggling helplessly. In hindsight, the 'useless' dial on the other side probably controlled the force of the water jet... I was hoping to disappear quickly, but Lynda was waiting to use the toilet next, so I burst out laughing and had to confess why there was still water running down the back of the door...


I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on my blog and enjoying the pool at Artini 2. I met an Aussie couple who had just come over from the Gili Islands and were headed to Java, so we swapped suggestions of places to stay and things to do.


20th May 2013


What a brilliant day. I spent 6 hours indulging my artistic side at a batik class run by a well known Balinese artist named Nyaungan and his two sons. There were only two other people in the class, a German named Urstina and a very pregnant American called Katherine. We were given a demonstration of batik first, then had 20 minutes to draw out our design on a piece of white cotton (about the size of a pillow case). I used my turtle photo from the Great Barrier Reef and a picture of anemone clownfish to create my picture. Next, we practiced using the batik tools to draw wax lines on some sample sketches, before moving onto our own pictures. The hot wax is scooped into a small metal funnel on the end of a bamboo stick where it can run out through a fine tube. It is actually quite tricky to get the right amount of wax in the funnel and get it running smoothly onto the cotton. We all had places where the wax had run or dripped in the wrong place, but once we had finished the teacher showed us a neat trick for removing excess wax. He dripped water on the affected area and then rubbed it with a very hot spoon to scrape away the wax, which beaded itself up on the wet fabric. Brilliant!

We spent the next few hours filling in the spaces between the wax outlines with a variety of inks. Similar to watercolour paints, the inks can be used neat, or diluted with water so the colours spread out and merge or fade as desired.

When I started painting my turtle shell, I realised that as usual my idea was more complicated than I'd thought. It took a lot longer to paint than I had expected, so I had to stay on for two hours after the class officially finished (as did the other two), but I was really pleased with the result. After painting in all the shapes, the cotton was coated with a layer of fixitive. I then had to cover all the colours I wanted to keep with beeswax to protect them. The teacher mixed up a bowl of indigo blue dye and dunked the whole picture, ensuring the colour soaked in well to the fabric. Anything not covered in wax picks up the background colour. He then washed the fabric in boiling water to remove the wax and excess dye, leaving a very brightly coloured picture of a turtle and clownfish in the sea. There were a few places where I hadn't put the wax on thickly enough and the colours had run into the wrong places, but overall I was very pleased with my first attempt.

On the way back to the hotel, I passed a sushi place with a wooden terrace above the street and decided to stop for a snack. They had free wifi and such delicious sushi (oh, and three for two on Bintangs) that I ended up there for several hours writing up the lastest section of my blog and researching dive schools in Indonesia to decide where to go next.  

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