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Settling In – To A Place, To A Rhythm

January 19, 2013

You need to let go of the past, see the good in the present and work towards the future.”

I am energized from writing non-musically a couple hours a day and enjoying walking everywhere and taking in the surroundings. At the same time, I feel unsure about music, how to move forward from broke and uncertain to well paid, prolific & published. I am not playing much guitar, not emailing to try and book gigs and I am missing some festival deadlines (I can only blame the slow, intermittent connection so much). The question is weighing over me: In what capacities or ways do I need and want music in my life?

I both want to stay in Ubud and Bali, get into a rhythm, and also am tempted to venture to Saigon and visit Ian, a different Ian from home or ‘cash in’ and find a sunny beach. In hearing this, a good friend back home reminded me:

“You need to ease your mind on things my friend. Stop over thinking everything. Music is you and you are music! Play if you want, write if you want or relax if you want. One day at a time! 🙂 You should definitely find a beach and chill, who doesn’t love a beach. ”


Walking back from breakfast, I went up to the wrong room. I turned around to hear a Balinese guy on the next terrace say, “When you come back? Your honey boy sleeping.” He mistook me for another girl, a girl with long dreads, yoga pants and a honey boy. Same same hair and skin colour though. Next sighting, he was looking over, “Sorry sorry,” he grinned.

I lay by the green pool that has a ladder with no rungs and two fountains pouring into it, oversounding the hum of the workers’ chatter next door, the serene Joni Mitchell-esque Balinese music coming from the over the neighbour’s fence and what sounds to be but definitely could not be a fog horn – didgeridoo? – in the distance. Mornings have woken me at 6am with birds, 7am with dogs, then drilling and hammering next door during the day. By 10am, the daily cacophony of chaotic cricket conventions are competing with the fountains and neighbour’s radio too. And there is some mysterious bird-gecko (I think bird, Ian’s guess is gecko) that randomly squawks a wheezy “ee-errrr” between five and ten times that sounds like a squeezy toy you buy for a new puppy – you know, like those hedgehogs – but who’s batteries are almost dead so it trails off as if it’s running out of air. Days have been sunny-overcast with 2-4 hours afternoon and evening downpours. Keeps things fresh and it’s a quick learn to always travel with an umbrella.

Ibunda walkwayibunda lane

I have gotten into a routine here at Ibunda – quick wakeup exercises, wash underwear and socks, breakfast and write, relax by the pool, then lunch and go on a long walk or write more and gently fight the slow internet connection. Maybe I do seek some structure, nestle into some patterns. It’s not the worst thing. It’s not a cubicle, and no one’s telling me what to wear, or when to work, speak or eat. Then again, I am on vacation and I am in Bali. (smile)

lotus pondCampuan Ridge

We met at the Lotus Pond, Ian and I. Walked west of central Ubud up the Campuan ridge, lunched in an open thatched hut above lily pads (see feature photo) at Karma Kafe, back a long, straight while along Sanggingan. At one point, there was a lush trail to the right with beautiful coursing waterways, jungle and stunning views but a sign in bold lettering said, “Private property. The Lonely Planet book is wrong,” so we had a soursop juice and a watermelon juice at Glove & Stove (I love this title and the English language for being so ‘exception-al’: the words look like they should sound the same but don’t). We climbed steps up to a narrow ridge that lead past a storybook-type of place, one you would expect to find in Princess Bride or Hansel & Gretl, and down into Penestanan – where I’d been the day before, but along alternate trails. There are trails and alleyways everywhere, coming from the left and right, going up, down, twisting around corners and traversing busy roads, windy streets, paths to hidden ridges and remote restaurants and inns. You could walk forever around Ubud and seemingly never take the same exact route.

imageHansel & Gretl House

“It would suck to be in a wheelchair in Bali,” Ian noted. He is an architect in Oakland, California. Evidently 25% of his firm’s projects are dedicated to ensuring buildings are wheelchair-friendly. Here, the streets are very hilly, rarely level, and the sidewalks dip down and angle up every ten paces or so, so rain and other water are funnelled to the drains and cars can drive through or turn around.

It took me a few days to figure out who Ian reminded me of back home. Visually, he is a blonde version of my friend Ryan, with a titch of Emrys in his energy; in his curiosity and soft-spoken comical delivery he is like Dallas. “Dallas. Good name.” He continued, “A verbal doppelganger – weird. I’ve had a visual doppelganger before but not a verbal doppelganger.” His mom is an artist and sculptor, his father an intellectual anthropologist-turned-business man. They divorced when he was six, and both remarried. He has two half brothers, one much older, one much younger. And for any astrology enthusiasts, he is a Taurus. Between us we bought three sarongs, a hat and a top before returning to town just late enough for Ian to miss his third yoga class of the day and right on time for a swim in my green pool before a tasty dinner at Warung Semesta.

Ian Balinese dance

Very humid here and flash rains. A cyclone went nearby two weeks ago causing flooding but the worst was over before I got here. I’m writing non-musically 2-3hrs/ day and start the mornings with a few pushups and situps. My usual what-am-I-doing, am-I-good-enough morning blues are subsiding so I am good:)


Ubud is like Thamel, Kathmandu was in 2001 – busy, tourists, shops, though there wasn’t the rain in Thamel. Prices are cheap to reasonable: small Bintang (beer) $2-4, large Bintang $3-6, cocktails and wine $6-8, juice $1.5-3.5, private room for 1 $14-35+, for 2 $20-50+, meals $2-5, $5-8+. There are a lot of pricier restaurants, resorts and shops that cater to upscale types too, and many juice and yoga places, cleanse and retreat options. What’s pretty amazing is all the artisans, wood carvers, so many painters shops – they are on every corner and line the streets. Even though it is slow, wet season, the supply way outdoes the demand. This is true of everything – taxis, scooters, adventure tours, restaurants and inns. This goes for smiles too, though I don’t know how to quantify the need or demand – they are plentiful here though. You could live like a king or queen for cheap here. Many come and stay longer than they expect or don’t leave.

rice & beansnasi campurBali Buda - tofu cashew curry

I am enjoying the casual pace of dining here. Service is slow at the beginning, very slow at the end (I have not been billed before preparing to leave), and generally no quality check or clearing of plates. The order is almost always written down and verbally double-checked. Beer takes no time at all but varies in coldness, juice takes some time (every mix of juice and sometimes protein, spirulina, ginseng options) and when there is no electricity, your choice is lemonade or soda. The food can be super quick or take quite awhile. Despite all the nasi goreng, nasi campur, pad thai, tofu & cashew curry and every rice dish imaginable, all the catering to tourists and numerous Japanese tourists and restaurants, I am surprised to not have seen chop sticks yet. First couple days I was not impressed with the food, but past two days have been fantastic. Bali Budda, Warung Semesta, Shisha Lounge. I have been braving salads and yesterday had a green super food smoothy yesterday (papaya, apple, banana, ginseng, spirulina, maca & ginger) $3. Everything just keeps getting better.


From → Bali

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