My friend Nina and her son Nelson have come to visit from Baltimore, and we’re taking a three-day weekend in Bali! Of Indonesia’s thousand plus islands, this one is the most beloved by western tourists, known for its yoga retreats, beaches, and a laid-back vibe. We have come to the town of Ubud, which our guidebook calls the “cultural heart” of Bali.
The majority of Bali’s four million residents are Hindu, which makes Bali notably different from its Islamic Indonesian sister islands (by population, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world). There are beautiful flowered offerings everywhere:
Every home also has a small temple. This one stands out in front of the villa we’ve rented (“villa” is the term used for a sizeable guesthouse here):
Statues here often wear black and white sarongs as a sacred covering that represents the duality of the world.
You come across outdoor temples of varying sizes and shapes as you wander around…
… and it’s common to find yourself face-to-face with guardians and other statuary:
Temple gates can be simple …
… or elaborate:
Bali is famous for its handicrafts, of which stone-carving is just one of many. Ubud is best known for its painting, both traditional and contemporary. These men are creating canvases for the brisk tourist painting trade:
I am in love with the doorways of Bali, which are often carved …
… and sometimes painted:
We spent our morning sitting in the terrible traffic that crawls slowly out of Bali’s sprawling capital city. Once we arrived at our villa, we cooled off in our pool:
After lunch at a warung (a small family-run restaurant) on our street, we went walking in the rice paddies that stretch north just outside of town:
This how rice looks when it’s just been planted:
But when the rice has grown, you can hardly tell one plant from another:
I loved being out in rice fields — it’s wonderfully peaceful (if hot).
We came across a stable of cows along our journey …
… and as we tried (and failed) to make our way down to a river, Nina found this handy sun visor:
As we walked, we saw beautiful butterflies, a large lizard, and a much larger snake, but I wasn’t able to catch any of them on film.
To get to dinner, we strolled down our street. The concrete teaches you Indonesian words (both in Balinese and in Bahasa, the national language) as you walk:
I love the words they think will be useful:
For dinner we opted for Italian food at il Giardino. It was excellent (the pumpkin ravioli in an almond-sage butter sauce was outstanding). And the view from our table was lovely:
The pond had beautiful lotus flowers, which were out in varying stages of their life:
The garden also had a mohawk duck!