Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy as a duck in a rice field

A few days in Jakarta brought back memories of the month that I had spent in Bali and Lombok a few years ago.

It really is true - Jakarta is an ugly, mosquito infested traffic jam - so I chose to spend my time next to the pool at the Sheraton and getting pampered at the spa.

That was after a trip to the supermarket, where I found mangosteen (a local fruit with a hard skin and soft, white segments of juicy flesh inside) and ‘garuda ting-ting’ (peanut sweets). These tastes transported me back to Ubud in the centre of Bali.

I would like to go back there one day. To write, to meditate and to listen to the ducks in the rice paddies. There is no happier sound in the world.

My ex-partner and I shared a simple but clean bungalow overlooking the rice fields. It was across the road from Pertiwi resort (a serene and good value choice if you are not on as tight a budget as we were). This is a great, central spot to stay. A few blocks away is a free meditation centre and around the corner we discovered Bebek Bengil restaurant – where the happy ducks became heaven on a plate.

Ubud is the arts centre of Bali and there are many beautiful designer fashion stores with simple silk and linen creations. In and around the town there are many soulful walks and drives and it's worth going to see the incredible wood carvings and other inspirational crafts in the area.

While I found most of the beaches in Bali overcrowded and abused (for beaches rather opt for Lombok, the Gili’s and further down the island chain), the central areas radiated a peace that passes understanding. Which is exactly the opposite of the road rage ridden capital.

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