Tag Archives: Desa Bulan

Ketut

25 Aug

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Have you seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”? If you have then I assume you are aware of who Ketut is, but for those of you who missed the movie (is that even possible?) he is the medicine man in Bali that reads Julia Roberts fortune, helping her transform her life after a painful divorce. I loved his character- he had such an infectious laugh and smile. I had always assumed that Ketut was an actor but discovered shortly before we left on our honeymoon that he was indeed a real medicine man in Bali. Thrilling news for a gal like me. I’m a sucker for fortune tellers & psychics….I also take people’s astrological signs pretty seriously. I know, I know, I’m such a product of growing up in LA. But I really do believe in the magic of it all. With that said I knew I would find a way to visit with Ketut while we were in Ubud. IT WAS A MUST.

Cut to our last morning in Ubud…next stop the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan off the coast of coast of Bali. The ferry that was taking us from Bali to Nusa wasn’t until 2pm so had many hours to squeeze in a few things we still wanted to see before leaving Ubud…first up a visit to Ketut and then lunch at the famous sucking-pig restaurant (Clearly, the latter was Brian’s choice).

After saying goodbye to the lovely staff (that I had somehow grown very attached to in three short days) and the gorgeous Rivermoon Villa (mark my words…I am going back to that place again) we packed Nyomen’s car up and headed to Ketut’s home. My excitement level was at an all time high. I was going to meet Ketut!

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Through my lengthy Ketut research I learned that he worked on a first come first serve basis so I made sure that we got there a 1/2 an hour after his doors opened. Sadly, this still left me in 8th place. The only highlight to being in 8th place is the fact that eight is my lucky number…obviously I took this as a very special omen.

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Brian on the other hand was not impressed with the number 8 considering that Ketut spent 1/2 an hour with every person. Yes, let’s do the math….we were going to have to wait 4 hours. HA. The loving wife part of me offered to forgo my reading with Ketut but the crazy fortune-teller obsessed part of me was pretty sure it was a pretty weak offer. Thankfully my sweet husband agreed to wait. I mean, I can’t go all the way to Bali and NOT meet Ketut. Plus Ketut is very very very old (I think over 100?) and I was rather certain that this was my one shot at hanging with him.

So we waited…..

doesn't Brian look thrilled?

doesn’t Brian look thrilled?

After four glorious hours baking in the sun, number 8 was called!

I’ve been going back and forth on what to report about my time with Ketut. Truthfully, I was expecting a tad more from the whole experience. Although, I suppose nothing lives up to ones expectations when they were as high as mine were. I was expecting some groundbreaking, life changing, epic shit to occur during our 30 minutes together. Instead he told me I was going to have three kids, warned me not to screw up my marriage with Brian (thanks for the vote of confidence, Ketut. Ha) and that I was a highly creative soul. Yes, there was a bit more than those three bullet points but you get the point. I will say that being in his presence might have been worth the four-hour wait. His energy is infectious! His whole face lights up when he laughs….and he laughs a lot! I pretty much spent 1/2 hour giggling with him. He really is a light.

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After my visit with Ketut it was time to repay Brian for the five hours of his life that he wasted for me and stop for some suckling pig! Nyomen dropped us off at the famous Ibu Oka restaurant in Ubud for lunch.

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Bali is notorious for its Babi Guling, a Balinese style whole roasted suckling pig! The entire pig is stuffed with a combination of typical spices used in Indonesian cooking including turmeric, coriander seeds, lemon grass and more. Babi Guling is unique to the island and very rare in other parts of Indonesia as the country is a predominately Muslim (consumption of pork is prohibited), whereas the majority of the population in Bali is Hindu.The dish is another of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites when in Ubud and I can see why. While I am not a huge fan of pig in general the mix of flavors was delicious.

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Next up…our crazy journey to the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan…

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Ubud : day two

18 Aug

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After a lazy morning at the villa (I could spend hours staring out at the green rice paddies)…

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We decided to hire a driver to take us on a sightseeing tour of Ubud and the surrounding areas. It seemed much more efficient than taking the bicycles out for a spin again. The manager at Desa Bulan helped us put an itinerary together as well as find a new driver since Nyoman was booked that day. We ended up with a handsome young local man named…get this… Nyoman as well! This is when I learned an interesting fact about the Balinese people, they are all named one of four names, Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut- both men and women! Every child is simply named by his or her order of birth. The first-born, boy or girl, is Wayan. The second born is Made (pronounced ma day). The third born is Nyoman. The fourth born is Ketut. That’s it, simple and sweet. Not to mention it certainly makes naming your child easier. The second Nyoman was just as nice as the first Nyoman. Seriously, the Balinese people are incredible. Everyone I had met thus far had such a joyful presence.

The first stop on the itinerary was Goa Gajah (also known as the elephant cave). I happen to love elephants (especially when their trunks are in the air!) so I was looking forward to this stop. Although I had no idea what to expect from an elephant cave? Nyoman dropped us off in the parking lot and kindly informed us he would wait for us there. Once we made it past all the stalls of people selling cheap souvenirs (quite a feat I tell you! Especially for a girl who hates saying no) and a man with a massive snake that one could pay a small fee to take a photo with (no we did not stop) we made it to the front entrance. After paying the entrance fee we were informed that we would have to cover our legs out of respect to enter the temple. Luckily, they had sarongs that you could borrow. Doesn’t my husband wear a sarong incredibly well?

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Goa Gajah was nothing like I imagined considering there was not a plethora of elephant statues (although, I did find one as you can see below). I learned that it is instead referred to as the elephant cave due to its close proximity to the Lwa Gajah (Elephant River). The entrance to the cave is actually a bit scary. There’s a monstrous face with bulging eyes and carvings of animals and humans running away in fear. Despite being a bit dark, the stone work was absolutely beautiful – it was so intricate. For such a popular tourist attraction inside the cave is actually quite small. Inside the T-shaped cave you can see fragmentary remains of the lingam, the phallic symbol of the Hindu god Shiva, and its female counterpart the yoni, plus a statue of Shiva’s son, the elephant-headed god Ganesha

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The next stop was the Gunung Kawi, which is a Hindu temple complex, that dates back to the 11th century  located in Tampaksiring. Nyoman informed us that it would be a very long trek down some very steep stairs to get to the ancient site. This information was slightly disconcerting considering it was incredibly hot and as we all know…what goes down, must go up. Although, after weeks of traveling through the very hot and humid Vietnam, I was starting to find the heat less debilitating. So off we went in search of the magical Hindu complex.

This time we did not make it through the souvenir stands unscathed. We were approached by a group of lovely Balinese women selling sarongs. It all happened so fast…somehow Brian was lead in one direction and I was lead in another and next thing I knew we were in dueling shops being wrapped in sarongs in the store by a group of smiling Balinese women. In a matter of five minutes I tried on every sarong the store had to offer (those ladies worked quick!). I decided to just go with it- they were all so gorgeous! In the end I purchased one that caught my eye- it was a gorgeous blue one with a lively pattern. Hey, I needed a sarong for the all the temples, right? When I finally made it out of the store I found my sweet husband standing in the street wearing the SAME EXACT sarong! Clearly, this is a sign that we are meant to be together, right?! The couple that sarongs together, stays together.

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In our newly purchased sarongs we took off in search of the site. Nyoman wasn’t lying…it was quite a trek down. The highlight of the hike was most definitely the man we stumbled upon who was selling fresh coconut water- complete with a machete no less. It was amazing! Much tastier and way cheaper than what I normally buy at whole foods back in LA!

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The site was absolutely stunning and totally worth the trek. It is covered in shrines carved into stone honoring kings and queens from the 11th century.

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After Gunung Kawi temple we were dropped off at the Tirta Empul Temple (also known as the water temple) which provides holy water for priests and bathing for ordinary Balinese, who believe bathing in the water can bring good fortune and health. It was definitely my favorite stop of the day. I loved watching people soak in the holy water. I regret not bathing in it myself! I think I was a bit intimidated (which isn’t the norm for me!) by the holiness of it all. There were so many rules and I was convinced I was going to screw something up and terribly offend somebody. Also I didn’t have anything to swim in and the idea of sitting in the car sopping wet for the hour seemed well, not so fun. So instead I watched. There was something so calming about it. It was a seriously magical place.

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Lastly, we took a drive through the Tegalalang rice terraces. Talk about AMAZING. Ever since our trek in Nepal I have been obsessed with terraces. I mean, they are just simply stunning.

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 After the four-hour driving tour both Brian and I were starved and in need of you guessed it…a beer! So we opted to be dropped off in central Ubud to grab lunch.

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After lunch we decided it was time to go back to the villa and cool off in the pool. I mean it’s not a vacation unless there are a few hours in the day spent doing absolutely nothing, right?

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That evening we arranged for a local woman, Wayan Suriani (who came highly recommended) to come to the villa and prepare us a traditional Balinese meal. It was amazing! Definitely my favorite meal while in Ubud.

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Next up…my visit with Ketut, the famous medicine man from the movie Eat, Pray, Love!

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find me elsewhere: facebook / twitter / instagram @kate365 / pinterest

Ubud : day one

11 Aug

 

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We arrived in Bali late at night- via Malaysia Airlines no less! We booked the tickets long before any of the accidents occurred. This leg of the journey was causing me some serious anxiety but it ended up being a very enjoyable flight. Sure, I had to take a xanax and have two glasses of chardonnay to calm my nerves but we landed safely! The first stop on our Bali tour was three nights in Ubud. We arranged for a pick up at the airport through our villa. Our driver, Nyomen (who happened to be the sweetest man on the planet) greeted us with a big smile and a sign that read “Glodney” – I was still having a hard time remembering that I was now officially a Glodney!

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After an hour’s drive we arrived at Rivermoon Villa, our home for the next three nights. The villa is part of a seven home compound called, Desa Bulan located in the village of Lodtunduh- just outside the center of Ubud. I found the it on a fellow blogger’s site, Hither & Thither, when researching places to stay in Bali. Brian and I both wanted to stay somewhere intimate rather than a large hotel. We certainly chose right because this place knocked our socks off the minute we walked in- even in the dark of the night. The villa is owned by an Australian couple (she has a cool interior design blog) who split their time between Bali & Australia. Not a bad life, eh? You can tell how much they love the villa because every detail is perfection, from the jaw dropping outdoor bathrooms to the romantic canopy beds. After oohing and ahhing over the place for a bit, we ordered a pizza to be delivered (I was shocked that this was an option!) and crawled into bed.

When I awoke in the morning, I popped out of bed like a kid on Christmas to see the villa in the light of day.  Hands down…one of the most gorgeous homes I have ever stayed in. In the morning light I could now see what surrounded us-vibrant green rice paddies as far as the eye could see. It was the most peaceful place I have ever been. Bali had stolen my heart and I had been there for less than 24 hours.

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One of the many perks of the villa (other than the view!) was a staff of three that came into our place each morning and prepared us breakfast. They were such a lovely group. I couldn’t get over how warm the Balinese people were. After a delicious breakfast (eggs & fruit for me and banana pancakes for Brian) we decided to take a bike ride into town and explore. The staff generously offered us motorbikes but we kindly declined and instead opted for the bicycles- they seemed much more our speed.

And off we went to explore central Ubud! We peddled through the narrow and windy roads as cars and motorbikes zipped by us…it was a tad terrifying especially when we had to go down steep hills and I discovered my brakes were useless. What was supposed to be quick 10 minute trip somehow turned into an hour. Clearly, we were lost. We even found ourselves stuck in a rice paddy. Oh the looks we got from the local farmers as we made our way through! They were rather confused. By the time we made it to the heart of town we were both covered in dirt and sweat. But that didn’t stop us from exploring. Ubud is known as the cultural center of Bali because it is home to many artisans. The stores are filled with beautiful wood & stone carvings, paintings and crafts. In addition to art the town is filled with cafes, temples, clothing stores and yoga studios. I fell hard and fast for Ubud- it offered all my favorite things! I could honestly see myself living there.

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We stopped for lunch at a little Balinese cafe and ordered two spicy fish dishes with rice and vegetables.  We decided to go as light possible because we had big plans for dinner at Naughty Nuri’s that evening, a favorite of Anthony Bourdain when in town and famous for its ribs and martini’s, something Brian had been looking forward to for weeks.

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After a lazy lunch we braved the roads once again and peddled back to our villa for an afternoon swim in the gorgeous salt water pool. It was during this swim I made Brian promise we would come back to Bali and stay at this villa again. If only I could figure out how to split my time between Los Angeles and Bali.

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After a few hours by the pool we cleaned up and headed out to dinner at Naughty Nuri’s. Anthony Bourdain was right…this place kicks ass. The dirty martini was the best I have ever had, which surprised me considering I don’t equate Bali with a killer dirty martini. Oh, and the ribs…to die for!

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Bali driving tour / water temple / Balinese cuisine up next!