Saturday, January 22, 2011

Black sand kinda looks like mud

The next morning, Jo and I had breakfast on the terrace again before heading out into the city. JoAnn had returned the night before with some really great bargains from the market in Ubud, and since I had spent my entire day playing with monkeys and hanging out with Liesl, I hadn't gotten a chance to visit there yet. We set off in the same general direction but ended up doing our own shopping.

The market was a million things all at once. It felt a little like a flea market, but nearly every shop sold the same thing, and the vendors shamelessly pulled you into their stalls. If you stopped to look at something for longer than a second, you had better be prepared to buy it. I'm honestly kind of surprised I didn't have an anxiety attack while I was there.

(I just looked at all my pictures of the market, and none of them properly convey how horrifically cluttered and overcrowded it was. I'm going to leave it up to your imagination.)

A few brief stories from the market:

  • A women selling baskets caught my eye. They weren't normal baskets; they were these completely flat, carved wooden things that opened up into a basket-type shape. (Confused yet? Me too, a little.) Once the woman noticed I was looking, she pounced on me. She showed me every kind of basket she had and grabbed a calculator to show me the price. Although she started with 25 bucks, I knew I'd be able to talk her down fairly easily; the thing was, I didn't want the basket. I live in a one-room apartment 6000 miles away from home; it's not like I'm particularly looking to collect knick knacks at the moment. I told her I didn't have enough money left to buy the basket (which was true) and tried to sneak away, but she grabbed my arm. Down the price went, but I still really didn't want the basket. The woman started muttering "good luck, good luck" under her breath, and I knew I was screwed. In Indonesia, they believe very strongly that your first customer of the day will set whether you will have a lucky sales day. Basically, if your first customer leaves without buying anything, you won't make any money that day. I frantically started scanning the other objects she was selling, but there was really nothing I wanted there. The more I tried to pull away, the more she clutched my arm. The woman had tears in her eyes... and I'm a sucker... so now I have a weird wooden basket thing. One day I'll have some kind of bookcase to put it on and I can proudly tell the story about how I bought it for nearly nothing at a market in Bali, but for now, it taunts me as an ever-present reminder that I literally don't know how to say no.
  • I don't have any perfume here. I didn't bring mine with me because I somehow got it in my head that I'd find something really exotic here that would make me a kind of sensually-scented goddess. Instead, I've merely gone four and a half months smelling like a mixture between my shower gel and laundry. I decided in Bali that that would no longer be the case, and I set out to purchase perfume. Unfortunately, in a country where not everyone can afford food, good-smelling water isn't high on the sales priority list. At the market, however, I did stumble across some essential oils. I'm the kind of girl who buys premixed Italian seasonings because combining oregano with... whatever else is in that... just seems too complicated for my limited attention span, but for some reason, I decided at that moment that I would make my own perfume. I chose a few flowery oils, and when I got home, I googled "how to make your own perfume." The recipe I found online said to combine a few drops of oil with pure grain alcohol, so I headed to the mart to locate "pure grain alcohol." Unfortunately, I haven't the faintest idea what that means, so I just bought something clear with pretty colors on the bottle. I still haven't gotten around to dumping the oil in the liquor bottle, but once I do, I'll let you know how it turns out. I may even be able to tell you in person after having been fired for my job for showing up to work smelling like I bathed in floral tequila.
  • I bought something special for my honeymoon.
  • That mask, combined with my new "I'm a pitiful (but floral!) drunk" perfume, is going to be the start of a marriage that lasts about as long as a box of Twinkies at fat camp.
Once Jo and I reconvened at the home stay, we packed up our suitcases and said goodbye to Ubud. The final stop on our tour de Bali was Lovina, the home of the black sand beaches. A three-hour car ride later, we dropped off our things and ran out to see this gorgeous black sand.

In case it wasn't obvious by the title of this post, I'll go ahead and point out the fact that black sand looks remarkably like mud.

Our arrival in Lovina was a handful of hours before midnight. Jo and I decided to hang out in the hotel for a little bit before heading out to find a place to ring in the New Year. Because we're both super-cool people, we ended up falling asleep with our faces in books. We're pretty much the definition of party animals. When the clock struck midnight, people set off some fireworks on the beach that ran right behind our hotel. In Korea, being awoken in the middle of the night by loud noises means Kim Jong-il finally snapped, but in Indonesia, it means celebration!

(Note: this is not an actual picture of the fireworks we saw.)

Our last morning in Indonesia, we woke up and looked outside, only to see this:

That's a lot of rain.

We actually got quite lucky; we visited Indonesia during its peak rainy season, but we only got stuck inside on our last day. Besides, as was previously stated, we're both huge nerds and really enjoyed having an excuse to spend the morning reading on the porch.

The rain cleared up by afternoon, and we headed out to take pictures in the town. Due to my new-found affinity for macro mode, I have far more pictures than I'm sure you're interested in, but here are a few of my faves.

We headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the daylight hours in the pool before gathering our things and saying goodbye to Lovina. The cabdriver who took us to the airport was by far the absolute worst driver in the history of the world, and I've never been more motion-sick in my life. I had to sit with my forehead smashed against my knees to keep myself from throwing up. Just remembering it is making me queasy right now, so I'm gonna go ahead and stop writing about it.

That's the story of Bali! I literally took over a thousand pictures, and one day, I promise I'll upload them to facebook. Until then, um, just watch the last part of Eat, Pray, Love.

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