Saturday was our last day in Ubud. The only upside of an overnight flight is that you get a full day in Bali before you leave, and as always, we pretty much filled it.
After writing my blog post for the previous day, I went for an early morning wander around the resort, really wanting to take in all the beauty on that last day. The spa area is particularly lovely, set right beside the holy river. The lushness of the greenery and the sounds of the animal and insect life felt amplified.
After another lovely breakfast I took the shuttle into central Ubud to finish off a little bit of shopping before walking back to the resort. It’s a downhill walk most of the way back, across a beautiful bridge, but then finishing with a steep climb that really makes me look forward to a cool drink or a dip in the pool at the end.
We gathered at 10.00am for an offering making class, led by talented women from the resort. The Balinese are very well practiced in making these offerings and can put them together in no time at all. It must be quite entertaining for them to watch us struggle with pushing bamboo splinters through young leaves in order to put the small baskets together. Some of the offering baskets that can be made are very elaborate, and making them well becomes a competition in local villages, with many women’s skills highly prized and providing them with a source of income.
As with everything in Bali, there are meanings behind the flowers and other objects used in the offerings. Particular combinations are used for particular reasons, and as always balance is important too.
This ended with casting our offerings into the river, then making another at the temple nearby with the same routine of “water to the lips three times, over the face three times, over the hair three times” that we’d used at the purification ceremony at the start of the week. This really gave me the chance to reflect on the week that had passed, and to say thank you for all that it had brought me.
After this our group began to disperse as some needed to leave to catch their flights home. Those of us remaining were treated to another lunch of Balinese food at the resort, then we had the afternoon free to do as we wished. I had pretty much packed my bags by this stage, and decided to go for a walk with one of the others. We didn’t really have a destination in mind, and ended up wandering along tiny pathways through Penestanan village. We had a divine coffee frappe at Yellow Flower Cafe which was worth the slow service.
Then it was back to wandering and eventually returning to the resort via Murni’s, a shop full of Indonesian arts and crafts just by the bridge over the river. We spotted some things that we hadn’t seen elsewhere; it was great to look and appreciate, and for me to think about the multitude of crafts that exist and how many people get so expert in specific ones.
There was time for one last swim before the remaining members of the group met for one last visit to Element for cocktails then dinner at Warung Mendez before spending the last of my rupiah at Aku Boutique. I bought beautiful sarongs (to be cut up for garments) and earrings there, and the service was terrific. And that was it! Time to say goodbye to Ubud, as we headed to the airport for that overnight flight.
There is so much that I haven’t written about. The ingenious irrigation system that supplies the rice paddies. The process of rice cultivation itself. The cultural expectations that have wives moving in with the husband’s families. The issues raised by being a relatively rich tourist in a poorer country, but the dependence of that country on the income that the tourists bring with them. Issues of development versus conservation, both of the physical environment and of cultural knowledge and values. And much, much more.