Begin the morning with breakfast by the pool, shaded by the ceremonial fringed triple umbrellas...
... move on to the warm colours of Indus for discussions with writers ...
... surrounded by Balinese beauties with flowers in their hair.
Lush green padi fields send wafting waves of calm which bounce off the retina...
... while carved hill slopes give a sense of depth to the view.
Escape to Ubud market and you are hit by the industrious use of space and ...
... get a glimpse at life through the nooks and crannies.
A hive of activity from dawn to dusk, Ibu Ibu drive hard sales and perk up when they smell a big spender, " Oh mau borong? Mau berapa?"
A pious man sits by his Buddha in calm repose sucking on a cigarette and watching ...
The morning ritual of burning incense sets the stage for a day of spiritual harmony with nature.
With pastoral patience she threads flowers on a fan-like framework.
And reaches out to display the offerings on an elevated alter.
The blessing finishes with a graceful hand-wrist wafting motion directing incense smoke towards the offering of flowers.
Dusk falls on Ubud rather quickly. Warm golden lights brighten the narrow streets and a different Ubud springs to life.
Food in Bali has improved by leaps and bounds over the years. Ten years ago one would be hard-pressed to find even palatable tourist fare. Now from Kuta to Seminyak to Ubud the cafes and fine dining restaurants are there for the picking. This presentation of small portions of Indonesian favourites is appropriately called Tapas ala Ubud.
Dance and music is synonymous with Balinese culture. Technology however permeates everything in life and it always pays to keep an eye on in-coming calls or text messages even during orchestral performance.
Young and old, foreigners and locals alike are completely mesmerised by the street dances and music.
Bar Luna on Gotama Street, a happening club with live rock music, is popular with the tourists. Somehow you don't get the seedy and dodgy feel of Pat Pong or Pataya anywhere in Bali. The strong cultural practices and spirituality of the people make the difference.
Another discovery of the year - the brand new Y Resort. The name conjours visions of a YMCA hostel but this is what it looks like. Almost a mini version of YTL Resort in Tembok, Northern Bali. An elegant gem nestled in Penestanan, Ubud with room rates of US$90 a day, it was certainly value for money after viewing older, rather sad-looking establishments on Jalan Raya Singginggan for future reference.
Day 2 of the Festival: When in Bali, embrace the local practices and one tends to throw caution to the wind. Jumped on an Ojek and trundled off to Indus, minus a helmet and hanging on for dear life.
Thrilling downhills, careening around a sharp hairpin bend at the Antonio Blanco Museum...,
... crossing an iffy bridge and having to tuck legs up to prevent getting splashed by recent rain puddles...
...plodding up the vine-lined Jalan Raya Singginggan behind other Ojeks to...
... arrive at Neka Museum for the the session "Why Here, Why Now" with Tariq Ali. A British Pakistani, Oxford University educated journalist (The Guardian) and editor of New Left Review...
... spoke about his writings from a political analyst point of view to his later works, the celebrated Islam Quintet fiction series: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, The Book of Saladin, The Stone Woman, A Sultan in Palermo and finally Night of the Golden Butterfly which captures a Muslim rebellion in Yunnan, China in the nineteenth century.
To a packed hall he responded to the moderators' opinionated comments in his laconic style with well-rehearsed ease. He related an incident in Turkey where conservative critics questioned the wisdom of suggesting a lesbian relationship between two of Sultan Saladin's wives/concubines. He replied that from simple inference it was not entirely impossible that two of the many wives and concubines should find emotional solace between them, as it was supremely probable that Saladin would have been unable to satisfy them by any stretch of the imagination.
By day, the setting was perfect, extremely eco-friendly and calming.
By night, the Gotama street party was not short of adept Indonesian men and sporting tourists glad to take up the challenge to hip-gyrate and finger-flick one- on-one with the curvaceous Balinese dancer to the rhythmic beat of Gamelan musicians.
The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (5-9 October 2011) was a highlight indeed of prodigious proportions, one of those uplifting lifetime events. The magical appeal of Bali, what more Ubud, was the perfect setting for an event of this nature as the creative juices just kept pouring like the rivers of sweat down ones' back.
The whimsical atap-roofed box office on Jalan Raya Sangginggan says it all. Single (AUS $103) or four-day passes (AUS $360) were on offer, whilst special events like cocktails, readings, workshops were extra (AUD $63). Why AUD$? UWRF is basically an Aussie affair which has been running successfully for 10 years or so. The last major sponsor Citibank Indonesia pulled out at the eleventh hour leaving the fate of UWRF 2011 in a quandary for sometime until ANZ came in to save the day.
The Opening Ceremony at the Pura Ubud was reminiscent of a scene from Eat, Pray, Love in the temple courtyard full of pomp and pageantry.
The Workshop on Point of View (POV) was carried out by two Australian writers /editors by way of exercises and examples of writings in varied POVs. The first person is commonly used in memoir writing, second person more for instructional manuals whilst the third is commonly used in fiction writing.
The sessions could be heavy going, but a good place to rest the eyes and mind would be just glancing out over the veranda and taking in the green vistas.
Latin Rhythms at Mosaic, an award-winning restaurant, was full of soul. While canapes, margaritas and mojitos were being served, we were entertained to readings by a Colombian poet, a Cuban author and a Mexican story-teller. Yes there still is such a category of 'story-teller' as she quipped, "It's a much safer pursuit compared to being a poet/revolutionary/social critic in countries where censorship is harsh". The evening was moderated by and African American whose only link to anything Latin was his first wife, and who existed in Bali running a Yoga school with his current wife.
One of the three Festival venues, Indus Restaurant on Jalan Raya Singginggan, had snacks, coffee, a popular jewelry store as well as Periplus book store. The carrot cake is highly recommended.