27.08.2009 - 27.08.2009 30 °C
A few more days in Ubud, and the kids are becoming expert traffic dodgers. We pretend it’s all a giant game of Frogger—leap through the motorbikes and other assorted vehicles roaring towards you in a ragged, unpredictable stream with as much agility as you can muster while also side-stepping offerings and stray dogs asleep on the sidewalks, declining offers of “Transport! Transport!” and not falling six feet down into a sewer by failing to notice a missing chunk of concrete in the sidewalk. Yes, okay, I wrote about the traffic last time too, and there is certainly more to life in Ubud than traffic. But what I find interesting is how the kids are adapting. They’re far more cautious and are really learning to keep their wits about them.
Besides, I needed an excuse to mention the strangest traffic scene we’ve yet seen in Bali: a lost duck making its way down a busy thoroughfare at top speed. Chickens, we’ve seen. Dogs, we’ve seen. We’ve seen some strange things, but never, until now, a bright white lost duck weaving in and out of traffic. Rather than using the sidewalk, it was sticking to the road, narrowly avoiding cars and motorbikes, clearly terrified. It looked completely dishevelled, with bits of fluff and down sticking out from its body at all angles, and it was racing madly down the street, careening away from narrow misses and urgently picking up the pace from time to time to avoid being run over. We walked alongside this duck for a good ten minutes on our way to dinner, with the kids demanding strenuously and repeatedly that we do something to save it. The miraculous thing is that while we didn’t save it (we had no idea how), we didn’t see it get hit, either. The car, taxi, bemo and motorbike drivers all went out of their way to drive around this duck. Eventually we lost sight of it. Shortly after that, we passed a field strewn with garbage where half a dozen street dogs were wrestling and rooting around for food, and I wondered if the duck had become their dinner—but I didn’t mention that idea to the kids.
The reason we were taking this long walk was to track down what is reportedly Ubud’s best pizza at a restaurant called Pizza Bagus (“bagus” means beautiful). We knew it was going to be a long walk, but after ten days of mostly mei goring, nasi goring, and more mei goring, it was going to be worth it. And it was: not only was the beer extremely cold, but the kids found mango lassis on the menu, and the pizza was better than anything Ottawa has to offer. More importantly, there was a foosball table in the restaurant. It was an incongruous sight, and we didn’t know what to make of it first. Chloe sized up the situation and told us we had to buy tokens to play – 1,000 rupiah per game (that’s about 10 cents). We played girls against the boys, and the girls won with a near shut-out. Across the street there was a store selling hammocks. We weren’t prepared to buy them tonight, but we’ll probably make another pilgrimage to Pizza Bagus on our last night in Ubud and maybe we’ll come home with some hammocks.
The kids spent this morning taking a three-hour Balinese painting lesson offered at the Pondak Pekak Library. Their instructor, Sulendra, had them choose from about half a dozen different sketches he’d brought to the lesson, and their job was to imitate their chosen sketches with his help. Chloe chose a portrait of a Balinese dancer in full costume, while Ciaran settled on a close-up of a red hibiscus. Sulendra had a way of sounding incredibly impressed any time the kids did something right. First, he would show them what to do… “And so like this, yes, yes?” and then they would do it and he would say, with deep satisfaction, “AHHHHHHHHHHH.” Over and over again: “Like this, yes? AHHHHHHHHHH.” Both kids were thrilled with their results.
Meanwhile, I had decided to try out some reflexology while the kids painted, since it was being offered upstairs in the same building. (Whenever getting a massage can somehow profit a struggling library, I say do it.) I’ve never had this done in Canada, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like, but I can tell you I’m never trying it again! The massage therapist clearly knew her stuff and it felt like a professional job, but it was the most pain I’ve ever experienced in the pursuit of pleasure. Mark had gone to her a few days earlier for the same treatment, and had come out raving about her strong thumbs, but I spent most of the first half hour suppressing yelps of pain and worried that she was going to pull my toes right off my body. The second half of the session was more relaxing, since by then I had survived the full treatment on one foot and it seemed I still had the use of that foot, which was reassuring. For good measure, she ended the treatment with a series of five sudden, solid punches to the soles of my feet. This was followed by five minutes of head massage that involved her occasionally grabbing bunches of my hair and pulling on them sharply, without warning. All round it was a strange way to relax, but the whole hour-long experience cost just $6, so I really can’t complain.