A pocket in civilization


Lemmie just show you my room before I get back to my slightly odd-houred work as liaison volunteer. (You should see my boss; it's almost midnight and she's still sending us updated info from the office. Bless them.)

I have this weird relationship with Ubud that leads to me always arriving in darkness. Darkness in strange lands is always miserable at first. Not to mention the fact that this place is hidden inside a traditional family compound. With a barely representative entrance.

You should see how creepy this place is at night. The cab driver was awfully nice; he carried my stuff and introduced me to the family, then asked if it really was the place we wanted. The family nodded happily, chattering in Balinese. Then lead us deeper into the compound, until the "cottage" lobby appeared. And then I (sort of) understood why this place flew with flashing colors among budget travelers.

DSC05081 (There is always something to be positive about as well as grumbling and whining, right?)

I whined about sleeping alone in a strange bed that first night in such a strange hotel with off-color sheets and faded blankets.

DSC05110 When morning came, though,

DSC05056 it came bursting in, impatient to show off its best side. My senses overloaded with unsynthesized, unrecorded sounds from every side of my 3rd floor room. In 4D stereophonic! Starting at 4AM, with mellow rooster calls that gradually turns into chicken-orchestral havoc by 6AM from every compound.

DSC05083The traditional setting in Ubud is that every extended-family lives in a compound. Where the Wantilan (or central gazebo) is in courtyard at middle of that compound, while nuclear families and temple (where the dead elders reside) live in bungalows built around that Wantilan.

So, if I pushed zoom just one bit with my ancient handycam, I could see the insides of their temples and kitchens.

DSC05084 It's kind of bizarre being in this place. On one side, Ubud is famous for being one of the most expensive places on earth, with the most "naturally" expensive hotels. On the other, here is this room where the selection of furniture give away their owner's decision making stories. Intricate door vs.  supermarket cupboard.

Detail on door It is for these glimpses of common humanity (kitchen, sweeping the yard, the cheaper cupboard for the fancy door), that we are surprised and gladdened with the companionship in our travels, even in the strangest of lands: To experience our own life stories be told in foreign languages, by unfamiliar societies.

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