Oh, the inevitable stroll through Ubud occurred, where every other second, one of us exclaimed, “This is SO different!”
For starters, the two main roads turned into thirty. Jalan Bisma, the dirt road that leads to Happy II that we were suprised to find on our last trip to Bali is now a paved main road (I have not found Happy II yet). The stalls of Bali handicrafts have turned into glass-front boutique stores. There are now at least a dozen restaurants that serve pizza and several dozen coffee shops. There are three gelato shops within a block from each other. The prices have at least quadrupled. Every Balinese man, woman, child over ten owns a motorbike (or so it seems). Every inch of space is occupied by a shop, a restaurant or a guest house. There is not a rice field to be seen.
There is a friggin’ STARBUCKS!
I know that change is inevitable. But I still like to whine a little. I remember taking Megan back to my childhood home in upstate NY, which had been surrounded by cornfields and apple orchards – all gone and replaced by McMansion developments. I couldn’t stop obsessing and grumbling about it, while Megan sighed, “Yes, I know. There used to be a corn field here.”
That said, as I sip on my Starbucks iced coffee …
We have had some excellent dining experiences in Ubud. Both Megan and I have stuck to the fabulous Indonesian cuisine, despite the nice international options. I think Kai appreciates the fact that many restaurants here now have a kid menu that usually includes some form of french fries or noodles (I may have ruined chances of getting her to try the local cuisine when I gave her a taste of my satay without tasting it myself and it was insanely spicy. Whoops. “Mama, stop this fire in my mouth!”) I, personally, can’t get my fill of satay, which, might not sound all that exciting (chicken, pork, or beef on grilled on wooden skewers, served with a thick peanut sauce, white rice, and usually some sliced cucumber or garnish) but however it’s made here, well, it melts in your mouth. Tomorrow Agung is getting us some babi guling, or suckling pig for dinner. I can’t wait.
So, Ubud is different. To me, the charm has diminished quite a bit. The ease of perusing art and crafts down the street is gone. It’s a bit overwhelming, figuring out where to eat or shop . This is not my final report. Check back with me in three weeks.
Satay dinner 75,000 rupiah
Starbucks tall iced-coffee 24,000 rupiah
To be able to take Ubud in, in small doses at a time, and then retreat to our bungalow in the ricefield……. priceless.