I left UK on May 19th for 10 months of freedom and exploration with a Round the World ticket. Will I find New Zealand as perfect as it was fifteen years ago? How has Australia changed? Will I learn any Spanish in S America?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ubud - Legong, dances and French coffee

Warrior Dance
Ubud Palace
Legong dancers
Everyone desperately wants you to buy things, transport, sarongs, tickets and you start to feel s if you really should be helping hte local economy a bit more- and in the end I gave into a seller on MOnday night and bought a ticket to see Legong dance at Ubud Palace which is 10 minutes away from Sania's bungalows.
It almost threatened to rain and show was late in starting; we were all frisked with a metal detector at the entrance which was a bit of a wake up call . The audience was a mix of Balinese, Indonesians, Japanese, Dutch, German and AMericans as far as I could make out. I was sitting on a crumbling concrete seat under a tree and it got a little uncomfortable and the mossies found me and bit despite full strength Rid.But eventually it all got underway to the accompaniement of a gamelan orchestra;the Legong dancers have very stiff mouths rigid smirks which make them look rather constipated rather than beautiful. THere were about 5 other dances included in the programme which was very good value - Warrior Dance was very impressive adn i was focussed on the bare feet which were flexing with such ease thinknig about my own worn down ligaments. It was about then that I noticed in little letters at the bottom of the programme Please do not use flash - oh dear! A little late - but I dutifully stopped.Other people in the audience seemed equally oblivious. I suppose it makes the dancers blink as their eyes are so wide open.
Afterwards I went to find the French cafe which the Dutch ballooning couple had told me about at the cooking school.
I thought it might be quite nice to have a real coffee . Thiery was very friendly and as there were no customers to speak of we talked and he asked me where I had travelled etc . I struggled along in my school french which he was very kind about for at least 10 mins before we lapsed into English as it was rather slow going!He used to be an editor and publisher in Paris but ended up bankrupt - with a business partner he has now opened up this cafe in the middle of Ubud which is well stocked with French books and books about Bali ( in all languages) which you can browse through. He also shows a non stop a fascinating B&W film made by a mexican in Bali in the 1930s which shows just how much life has changed and also how much has been retained. The women for instance are all topless but though not today I have seen women bathing in the roadside waterways naked - it is not considered shameful at all, just practical.

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