Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bali: Other Assorted Ubud Shenanigans

While in Ubud, we participated in a lot of activities, but we also did our fair share of lounging around in our relaxing suite at Alam Jiwa.  Here are photos of some of the other leisure activities in which we partook:

Looking shiny, drinking Bintang besar and eating some excellent sate at Kafe Batan Waru:


Taking a break from our power shopping around town to watch the cute local kids play soccer in the main square:

Eating lunch (and taking terrible photos, see below) at the famed Ibu Oka's babi guling (roast suckling pig) restaurant.  Made famous both because it is delicious and because Anthony Bourdain stopped by several years ago to indulge in the porky heaven and record a segment for No Reservations, Ibu Oka's is an Ubud institutionI've tried babi guling before in Bali and enjoyed it, but this experience was above and beyond that.  We ordered the "special" and were served a mound of rice topped with large slices of super tender roast pork covered in an awesomely fragrant spice mix, some fresh long bean and coconut salad, caramelized crispy pork skin, some blood sausage and these amazing  spicy crispy bits (I don't really want to know what they are) that are to die for.  This place was hilarious, too.  Overrun by people every day (I read that some days they go through 8 pigs at lunchtime), it has developed somewhat of an attitude and the surly service associated with U.S. diners and the Soup Nazi.  I'm sure it's a turn-off for some people, but I actually found it amusing because service in Indonesia is usually so over the top.

Continuing on our "treat yo self" quest, we indulged in massages and manicures at the Alam Wangi spa.  The massages were lovely and the manicures less so, but the tasty tea and snacks at the end made up for that:

Getting our cultural fix at the ARMA Museum, a large museum devoted to maintaining and making available to the public Balinese artwork, both traditional and contemporary.  The museum had a dizzying collection of beautiful and detailed paintings and sculptures depicting life on Bali and various Hindu tales.  I would recommend the museum to anyone visiting Ubud...

My favorite part of the trip to ARMA was actually at the ticket booth.  We had a little bit of confusion about whether the entrance fee quoted to us by the ticket seller was for all 3 of us or just 1 of us.  In the confusion, Meghan had paid for all of our tickets, so Liz and I handed her change to cover our portions.  The ticket seller made an attempt to convince Meghan to give him the small bills we had handed her in exchange for the 100,000 rupiah bill with which she had just paid him.  She quickly shot him down, basically telling him (with a wink) that she had been in Indonesia long enough to realize you don't just give away your small but highly-coveted bills.  Bravo, Meghan!  Small bill hoarding is necessary here, as many shops, stands and taxi drivers will not have change for the larger bills (or will claim to not have change even when they do, which results in a stand-off/stare-down at each transaction, both sides waiting until the other breaks and looks for change.)

We weren't allowed to take photos inside the museum, but Meghan captured the great detail in the carvings on the outside of one of the museum buildings:

Eating a tasty dinner at Cinta Grill (where we had sparked the interest of the bartender and a random dude from Boston earlier in the week) on our last night in Ubud, followed by drinks with all the long-haired locals and aging hippies at the Laughing Buddha next door.  The cover band was pretty good (somewhat of a rarity, I've found), doing twangy and bluesy versions of Superstition and some Rolling Stones tunes.  However, they confirmed my suspicion that the '80s-era Sting song, Englishman in New York, is Indonesia's favorite song.  I have now heard at least 4 separate Indonesian cover bands play this song.  So random.

We were excited because they were the first bar we'd been to in Bali that actually had Storm beer in stock...  we drink it all the time in Jakarta, but seemed unable to find it in Bali and I wanted the girls to try the alternative to Bintang.  Also, Meghan got a really fancy looking watermelon mojito that she enjoyed:

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