Friday, February 6, 2009

Day Two in Bali - Craftsmen

Ari wasn't scheduled to pick us up until 11am so we had an easy-going morning. After breakfast I managed to get very slow access to the internet so I wrote a few emails and updated my blog for the first time since arriving in Bali.

As 11 approached Laura and I check out and were shortly met by Ari who took us toward Ubud. Along the way we stopped at a workshop where they produce batik which is really interesting since they use beeswax to paint on a design then dye the cloth, then apply more beeswax, then dye it again and they generally repeat the process at least once more before putting it in hot water to remove the wax and reveal the design. They also weave cloth by dying the thread in the desired pattern before weaving which produces a slightly irregular but singularly amazing piece of cloth.

We hopped back in the car and made our way to the workshop of local silver artisans. They're the premiere workshop in Bali and their only competition is a company owned by a Canadian businessman who charges a lot more but who doesn't pay his workers anymore so the feeling on the island is that he is not really giving from the community thus resentment is common. It is fascinating to watch the craftsmen work with silver wire and tiny beads to make stunning jewelry!

After visiting the silversmiths we went to see Balinese woodcarvers. They're masters of their trade and work with the wood instead of fighting it to determine their final product. Normally I think that painted wood is shameful in that it ruins the natural beauty of the medium and hides flaws but there were some painted pieces that looked almost lifelike.

From visiting the various craftsmen we went to Bali Buddha Restaurant in Ubud. It is the first organic establishment in the area and they work with local farmers to ensure the highest quality. I had a very good pumpkin-temphe burger and Laura had a green curry with various local vegetables. After a trip to the post office for stamps and the market for fruit we went to our new temporary home, the ARMA Resort.

The grounds are lush and filled with flowering tree and plants, orchids amongst them. Our room is really beautiful and they had a bowl of flowers on the desk with a note written on the petals of one welcoming us. The pool is right in front of our room and there is an outdoor dining area adjacent. Laura and I had a couple hours to relax before Ari was to pick us up again to take up to dinner and see another dance performance.

At 7pm Ari arrived to take us to Cafe Lotus which is, as the name suggests, right on a lotus pond. During dinner across the pond was a performance of traditional Balinese dance by the Cenik Wayah dance troupe. One of the aspects of Balinese dance I like most is the dancers' use of their eyes, it may be a little exaggerated but it is very communicative and I enjoy it a lot.

After finishing dinner Ari and I crossed to the other side of the pond to get a better view and take some pictures. I think that Laura preferred not to risk the dimly lit path leading between two large and deep pools of lotus to get a closer to the action so she stayed at our table while I contorted myself into sometimes uncomfortable positions to take my pictures.

Once the performance had concluded we headed back to our opulent room to enjoy a restful evening before getting up early for tomorrow's rice paddy walk.

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