Tuesday, December 9

Day 103-Ubud

It is my hope that over the weeks you have not wasted energy in envy of my sojourn, it is never as great as one might imagine-except for now! In this touristed but still sleepy town below the flanks of volcanic Mt. Agung, Bali's tallest mountain, it is said that ones expected visit will extend from days to weeks, and I quickly saw why. Imagine Boulder, Colorado in a lush and flowery tropical setting. Walking the main street one encounters, among the many local temples and shrines, galleries presenting the most stunning and artfully constructed collections of woodcarvings, fabrics, and paintings. When that has becoming overwhelming, simply step into one of the many cafes or restaurants and enjoy organic juices, vegetarian stirfrys, or American style baked goods. I honestly believe that I have been dining for the last few days at what must be the hippest restaurant on the planet, (at 3 bucks a meal) and the presence of the many world travelers I have met there supports my claim.

Evidence of the superlative talents of these island people is not restricted to the visual or culinary arts, however. Last night I witnessed a music and dance show that must rank among the most complex and delightful human expressions ever concieved. I know that I am prone to hyperbole, but how else will I convey the depth of the jaw dropping awe that I felt when that first dancer came on stage to meet her 20 piece gamelan orchestra. Amidst the synchronous clamour of hundreds of brass bells and chimes, and many drums, she proceeded to tell some ancient tale using precise postures, intricate hand gestures and the most captivating facial expressions. The costumes were equally ornate, as was the temple setting with its many carved freizes, depicting Balinese versions of Hindu dieties. I can imagine no greater spectacle, except perhaps for Monkey chant concert that will be tonight's entertainment!

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