bali highlights so far!

Not Kuta. Let me get my negativity/cynicism out of the way first. Despite the glorious, glorious beach and the joy of walking a few minutes to swim in the ocean (resolution: I must live by the ocean someday), South Bali’s tourist mecca of Kuta/Legian/Seminyak is not my cup of kopi bali. I’m pretty sure whatever deforestation problems Indonesia is facing can be attributed to the enormous quantity of penis-shaped wooden bottle openers for sale in Kuta. During my first few days in Indonesia I spent too little time enjoying the new discoveries of Bali and too much time judging my fellow tourists for their poor taste in novels while trying to find a decent book to read at used bookstores.

Getting to know Denpasar.  In my humble opinion, Lonely Planet Indonesia’s authors were really wrong about Denpasar. According to LP, Bali’s capital is “hectic,” “daunting and chaotic,” and  worthy of perhaps a day trip. I recognize that my chaos barometer may be skewed by the fact that I’ve spent the last five months living in African capital cities, but DPS feels positively serene to me. I can’t help but be charmed and enchanted by how beautifully decorated everything is.

Markets. You’ve heard it before, but I love markets. The market a few blocks from where I stay is a beautiful place. Fruit stands outside:

Along with produce, spices, seafood, and tacky sarongs, the market sells a huge array of supplies for creating ceremonial offerings, including this array of baskets:

Many Balinese families spend 20% or more of their income on offerings and ceremonies!! Like this one outside the door of my room.

The best taxi driver ever. Bayu, the taxi driver who took me to my new beautiful hotel in Denpasar– he sang Frank Sinatra and yodeled for me.

Forum Fair Trade Indonesia (FFTI). Right now I’m working with Forum Fair Trade Indonesia , an umbrella organization/network connecting the different fair trade producers in Indonesia.  I’m helping with a project of documenting artisans’ stories for use in a marketing campaign, which is a very fun task that’s allowing me to travel all over and do interviews with different artisans. More on this later; I’m excited about it.

Pak Ngurah, woodcarver and painter, at work.

Flowers. Frangipani, my favorite: 

This statue outside a family temple gets fresh flowers tucked behind his ears each morning.

My bicycle!! I bought a bike– a brand new, beautiful red mountain bike, which seemed a little extravagant, but so far it’s been SUCH a good investment. DPS doesn’t have much public transportation, and my beloved sepeda has been my ticket to freedom and exploration.

My ride to work takes ~23 minutes in the mornings, but usually much longer in the evenings when I’m happily distracted by side trips to the beach, interesting back roads, and juice breaks. Thus far I have avoided colliding with any crazy motorbikes or durian vendors’ carts (that would be a spiky, messy, malodorous way to die).

Next week is going to be packed: World Fair Trade Day 2011 celebrations, a trip to Yogyakarta, a brief interlude in Singapore to renew my visa, and back to Bali. Surfing, seeking out Balinese backstrap weavers, visiting a women’s pottery cooperative, and other adventures are all on the agenda upon my return!

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7 responses to “bali highlights so far!

  1. The offerings! The Fair Trade! The bottle openers at Kuta! Have a great time, Maddie–wish I could be there drinking bintang and sugary fruit drinks with you.

  2. ps You have to try salak! (aka snakefruit)

  3. eeep! I love love love your blog updates- and think about you often in your tropical bliss as i hug my guatero in all my clothing in my bed! keep ’em coming!

  4. Why are you the most amazing person on the planet? Frangipani? Whatever that is, I wanna get me some. I want to bathe in it, drink it, powder it into vitamins, and sell it as a cure-all, etc. Lovely.

    Not as exotic (but still on the map): Chicago. I insist on a visit once the days of bottle-openers are done (we have culturally-intriguing tacky souvenirs here too).

  5. this place seems magical…flower tucked behind the statue’s ears?? beach living?? i love that you are there.

  6. so great to see your new surroundings! and yes, a beach nearby….sigh. southeast asia is next on my list of places to go.

  7. eee!

    ask for lotek
    never turn down a juice stand
    ask someone to take you to “old bali” (or maybe fabric row? i don’t remember exactly what it’s called but it’s kind of near “little jawa” or “kampung jawa”)

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