A Stroll Through Balinese Markets

 

Balinese markets are a feast for the eyes. In Ubud’s bazaar and food and produce markets, there are stacks of colorful rattan offering boxes, wooden masks with intimidating gazes, small cases comprised of beads in swirling patterns, delicate batik silk scarves, walls of oil-adorned canvases, and overflowing mounds of tropical fruits. The markets are a shopper’s paradise, a photographer’s dream…

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Photo du Jour: A Balinese Balancing Act in Ubud

With baskets of rich soil balanced on their heads, three Balinese women ascend the stairs of a performance theater in Ubud, Bali. The graceful stance of the laborers is reminiscent of the dancers who perform there regularly in the evenings.

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Photo du Jour: A Red Hibiscus in Buddha’s Hand – Ubud, Bali

Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
-Hans Christian Anderson

At our home away from home in Bali, Indonesia, this Buddha statue greeted us daily with a splendid flower in hand. The flowers — quite often hibiscuses or frangipanis — had been carefully selected and placed by the homestay’s hostess, Ayu. Like the practice of making canang sari, Ayu’s ritual is another example of the spiritual offerings regularly performed by residents of this gentle island. Continue reading “Photo du Jour: A Red Hibiscus in Buddha’s Hand – Ubud, Bali”

Patience & Passion United: A Visit to a Balinese Art School

The Wayan Gama Painter Group sits on a dusty road connecting agricultural villages not far from Ubud, Bali. At the end of a day trip that took us to a Kopi Luwak ‘poop coffee’ plantation, the Elephant Cave and Rock Cave, our driver, Mowgli, suggested that we visit the quiet art studio directed by his friend, Wayan. Mowgli explained that much of the art that lines the walls of Ubud’s shops is mass-produced, whereas at Wayan’s art school, one can mingle with the artists and see them painting, exhibiting extreme patience and a penchant for painstaking detail.

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An Afternoon with “Eat, Pray, Love’s” Ketut Liyer in Bali, Indonesia

Eat, Pray, Love ’s footprint is everywhere in Ubud, Bali, where the best-selling book’s author, Elizabeth Gilbert, spent her love chapter. From the plethora of single women who pound Ubud’s streets, to the clichéd tours and Balinese people who name-drop locals Ketut and Wayan, who were featured in the best-seller, the book’s influence is ever-evident.

Having heard what a character the spiritual healer Ketut Liyer is, Shawn and I thought it would be fun to spend a few moments with him.

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Our Heart For You: A Beautiful Coincidence in Bali

We can not do great things on this earth.

We can only do small things with great love.

-Mother Theresa

The man sat hunched over, with sunken cheeks, and spindly legs. As we walked along one of Ubud’s main streets, his empty stare, meek mumbling and outstretched hand caught our gaze. Our hearts sank.

I have seen many people begging worldwide, but something told Shawn and me that this old man was greatly in need.

Though we had a tourist destination to which we were heading, we unconsciously tossed the plans aside. We were determined to brighten this elderly man’s day in some way.

Other tourists and locals hurried by. Most of them did not make eye contact with the man.

Heading to a padang (traditional fast food restaurant) across the street, we asked a group of Balinese youngsters if it would be okay to help the man. They confirmed that we could buy him some food.

For 9,000 rupiah – just about $1 – we purchased some local nourishment: an egg and corn fritter, green beans, tofu and white rice. We were not sure what kind of beverage to get the man, and decided that the food alone would likely be greatly appreciated.

With the banana leaf and brown paper-wrapped food package in hand, we returned to the street corner where the man was sitting. Another tourist was approaching him from the opposite direction. In her hand was a beverage.

It was magical timing – a moment at which I felt as though the Balinese spirits were working to bring three very-blessed visitors and a Balinese man together. I instantly developed goose bumps and nearly shed a happy tear.

Our actions couldn’t have been better choreographed with the woman, who handed the man the beverage just as we gave him the package of food.

At first, the man look surprised. Then, a twinkle developed in his eyes. A wide, toothless smile blossomed on his gaunt face.

We felt an instant bond with the German female tourist, given our shared experience. We briefly interacted with her and she recommended that we eat at a warung (a traditional Balinese restaurant) just around the corner.

With our $5.00 meal before us, the waitress at the family-owned restaurant commented on the rice on my plate. It was formed in the shape of a heart. “Our heart for you,” she said.

Since the moment with the man had been so touching, I decided that I must try to capture the kind gentleman on film.

Returning to the street corner where our paths crossed, I was surprised to see that it was empty. Up a nearby, hilly street, I saw the man slowly walking. He was hunched over, with his hand neatly tucked behind him. He was carefully cradling the food package in his hand.

As I passed him, I showed him the camera and ‘asked’ if it would be okay to snap his image. His smile was my go-ahead to do so.

As we bid farewell, he turned a corner, going to a small home complex populated with a pair of roosters. I hope that he was going to enjoy an early dinner.

It was a small gesture, but one done with love. Happy Thanksgiving.

A Morning Walk Through Balinese Rice Paddies

I loved how this morning unfolded. After awakening to a symphony of creatures large and small, Shawn and I set out to explore the rice paddies that surround our Ubud, Bali guest house. Even though it was just after eight o’clock, the rice fields were already twinkling and sizzling under the hot morning sun’s rays. Continue reading “A Morning Walk Through Balinese Rice Paddies”