Retreat Recreate Bali 2015

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 – re-entry

So, had you wondered why that blog post about my last day in Bali took a whole week to be written?  Because yes, it is now a week since I’ve been home.  The overnight flight was as overnight flights are – very little sleep in an upright position, leaving me feeling super tired.  But unfortunately since I got home I have been sick.  I did have a sore throat while I was away, and by Monday it had developed into a full-blown head and throat cold.  By Tuesday morning I had also developed a “viral intestinal infection” that has seen me lose 3kg in weight and spend the rest of the week exhausted in bed (with a visit to ED to check that I wasn’t medically dehydrated).  Today I have turned the corner and am finally getting better.  Hooray!  I am even capable of typing blog posts again!

But – don’t let my illness put you off a visit to Bali!  If my test results come back with the virus that the doctors are expecting, the incubation period suggests that I could have even caught it here before I left or on the plane over – it’s not necessarily something that I picked up in Bali.

And believe me, my week at Retreat Recreate was absolutely more than worth it!  The 2016 dates have just been confirmed as 8th to 16th October.  That gives you plenty of time to keep an eye out for cheap flights and to book your spot!

I have already put one of my resolutions from my week away in place – I’ve booked into a beginner yoga course.  Unfortunately I missed my first class because I was sick, but I’m looking forward to making a start later this week.

Thanks again to those of you who enjoyed following along with my travels.  I’m glad that I’m not blogging to a vacuum!

Edited to add:  results back – Campylobacter, most likely picked up in Bali, superimposed on a viral upper respiratory tract infection.  Ah well!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 – Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Saturday

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.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 – Friday

Friday was a “rest day” for me.  Um, interesting definition of rest.  Six of us had decided to take part in a class at Arma Museum in the morning.  From the Arma website:

Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) was established for a purpose. Founded by Agung Rai, a Balinese who has devoted his life to the preservation and development of Balinese art and culture, the museum was officially opened on June 9, 1996 by Prof. Dr. Ing. Wardiman Djojonegoro, Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia. The museum is administered by ARMA Foundation set up on May13th 1996.

 The major goals of the ARMA Museum are:
  • to collect and preserve artworks
  • to develop and preserve the art of painting, sculpture, dance, music, and various other cultural art forms
  • to provide means and infrastructure for the local society to learn various artistic skills.

The permanent exhibition of paintings by Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists include the collections of the ARMA Foundation and works on loan from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Agung Rai.

The collection ranges from traditional to contemporary, including classical Kamasan painting on tree bark, masterpieces by Batuan artists of the 1930s and 1940s and the only works to be seen on the island of Bali by 19th century Javanese artist Raden Saleh and Syarif Bustaman.

Prominent are works by Balinese masters such as I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Ida Bagus Made, Anak Agung Gede Sobrat and I Gusti Made Deblog.

Foreign artists who lived and worked in Bali are represented by Willem Gerard Hofker, Rudolf Bonnet, and Willem Dooijewaard among others. The works of German painter Walter Spies have a special place in the collection because of his important contribution to the development of Balinese arts.

ARMA is more than a museum. It is a centre for visual and performing arts, allowing the visitor to enjoy the permanent collection of paintings, special temporary exhibitions, theatre performances, dance, music and painting classes, bookshop, library and reading room, cultural workshops, conferences, seminars and training programs. Its vision is to become an internationally renowned museum of Balinese and Indonesian culture by organizing events showing the uniqueness and diversity of this culture. The museum provides many quality services to people from various cultural backgrounds. It serves people who wish to experience and learn about Bali’s unique cultural heritage. ARMA functions as a living entity, always on the look out for new opportunities to sustain the Balinese arts.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

We had opted for a two hour class in basket weaving.  Upon arrival we were led to a traditional raised platform, where our two instructors were waiting with the tools that we would need to produce a simple coaster.  They used palm leaves that had been dried and cut into strips, some naturally dyed as well into shades of brown and black.  Rattan was also used as a filler to give stability and structure.  There were also sharp awls, used to pierce the palm leaf strips, and super sharp knives used to cut both the palm strips and the rattan.  We left the knives to our instructors!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

The process began by coiling lengths of palm leaf into a very tight spiral.  This took a bit of practice, and some assistance to make the coil super tight so that it was very hard and stable.  This formed a disc for us to weave around.  Once the disc was large enough we wrapped palm fronds around it, through the centre hole, around the outside, then back through the centre hole until it was completely covered.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

The next step involved the rattan.  A piece of rattan was coiled around the disc, and the awl was used to pierce holes one at a time in the palm that had wrapped the initial spiral.  Then around we went!  It is meant to be done evenly, but that clearly takes a bit of practice.  A second layer of rattan and weaving later, then a third round with just palm strips, and it was all done!  It took us a little over two hours just to make one coaster, but Nyoman, one of our instructors, says that she can weave one in around one hour.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday
Guess which one is mine…

Nyoman showed us some of her other weaving, and I couldn’t resist and bought a bowl that she had made.  It had taken her a little over one day.  I really enjoy buying direct from the maker.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

The class was actually very relaxing and almost meditative.  The surroundings were beautiful, the company and conversation highly enjoyable, and although I was taking part in an activity it was an excellent way to wind down.  After the class we wandered through the Arma gardens.  It really is an oasis.  I decided not to actually examine the artworks inside the museum, as I was approaching sensory overload, but I will definitely return the next time I am in Bali.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

We caught a taxi back into the centre of town then walked back to the resort.  The business of central Ubud reminded me that I really do prefer to shop in smaller quieter areas.  Our resort is not actually in Ubud proper, but an adjoining area called Penestenan.  It’s not as frantic, and it’s cool and away from the general rush, yet close enough to Ubud to walk in to the centre of town or get a quick taxi or shuttle ride.  The street outside the resort has a lovely collection of shops, cafes and restaurants and Cantika spa is very close by as well.  There are little laneways among rice fields and it is great for a wander.  If (when!) I return with my family we’ll probably stay in Penestenan again.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

By this stage our group was down to two people.  Kate and I found Warung Mendez right near the resort.  It was a small local place and served us up some of the best food we have eaten while in Bali.  An excellent drink made from cinnamon, ginger and lemongrass, Balinese noodles for main, and the most scrumptious pudding for dessert.  Oh, it was SO good!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

I followed lunch with another trip to Cantika spa.  This time I had a facial.  In my opinion there is nothing quite like a facial for relaxation!  I’m not sure how many different lotions and masks were applied, but it was at least six.  At Cantika a facial also includes an arm and foot massage, as well as plenty of neck and head massage.  I think it was my favourite spa treatment of the holiday.  I’m hoping to return this afternoon to sample more of their menu.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

As as per our routine we had cocktails at Element before a delicious traditional Balinese feast that the resort restaurant, Sanjiwani, had prepared especially for us.  It was divine!  We have done incredibly well with food over the past week.  As much as I am not interested in cooking, I am definitely interested in eating!  It was our final evening together, and after the meal we took the opportunity to do some “show and tell” of the items we had purchased over the past week.  I’ll do a blog post later with the things that I bought.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

It’s lovely to have a couple of wind-down days at the end of the trip.  I don’t head to the airport until the evening – my flight home is at 11.30pm – so I’m really looking forward to having an indulgent and relaxing time today.  I have managed to finish reading one novel while I’ve been here, so let’s see if I can make a start on another!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Friday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 – Thursday

There are only two days left of the retreat.  Time has flown, yet I also feel as though I have been here for ages.  As I sit typing with roosters crowing in the background (there are always roosters crowing!) by the fountain at the hotel lobby, I am reflecting on the past few days, and anticipating the next.  I am really missing my daughters at the moment.  The three hour time difference between Australia and here is actually quite hard to work around in terms of being able to communicate with them easily!  If I’m up at 5.30am Bali time it is 8.30am and they are either at or on their way to school.  And the evening brings similar issues as I am often out and about doing things when it is after school time back home.  6.00pm here is 9.00pm there and hopefully by then they are in bed!  Anyway, I’m sure that I’ll be able to get in touch on Saturday and then I’ll be home on Sunday morning anyway!  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not wishing my time away, and I will be sad to leave, but I’ll also be happy to get home.  I am anticipating that today (Friday) and tomorrow will be “slower” days.  More pool time, more reading time, more wandering locally, more sitting in cafes, maybe more massages.  Although I do have a basket weaving class planned for this morning….

So, back to Thursday!  We had a full day trip planned, with an excellent guide Yuda who Susan had met on earlier visits.  He was a fascinating man, and the day was highly educational.  Not just in terms of facts, but also in terms of learning yet more about Balinese history, societal and family structure, and sense of humour!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Eleven of the group piled onto the bus at 9.30am (the twelveth has been to Bali a few days and opted for a day of rest).  We began by visiting a family home.  You’re possibly thinking “haven’t you already done that?  And more than once”?  Well yes, this was the third family home I have visited this trip, but each time I have learned something new and have been able to identify similarities and differences between each one.  Yuda explained that many years ago each family was given land by the government.  Each home is built in a similar style. There is an outer wall, and an open gate that you enter through.  Each house is oriented so that the temple building is always in the North-East corner.  This is also the first of the buildings to be constructed when a new house is being built, although it is often more symbolic at first to allow for the main kitchen/living building to be constructed so that everyday life can continue.  The other buildings are then built in a particular order as funds allow.  Balinese traditional houses are what we in the west would probably describe as “compounds”, as there are a number of buildings within the one walled area, and a number of generations live there.  There is a good overview of Balinese traditional architecture here.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Once again we were able to see people going about their everyday business.  Offerings had been prepared and were being placed, and fringing was being made.  This house was much more manicured and decorated than the simple house we had visited on our bike tour, to me reflecting a clear difference in income levels.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

From there we went to a silver manufacturer.  Yuda took us to a village cooperative, where proceeds go back to the community.  We were able to watch the process of silver jewellery construction from beginning to end.  Everything is handcrafted.  There was a massive array of jewellery available to purchase, and unsurprisingly I found something for each of my girls.  I hope that they like them!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

And back into the bus! There was a considerable drive ahead of us.  We drove along windy rounds going up, up and further up until we arrived at Mahagiri restaurant in Rendang, overlooking Mount Agung and more of those beautiful rice paddies.  We had lunch there, all the while admiring the stunning scenery.  So far we had travelled less than 50km, but it had taken around an hour and a half.  The roads in Bali are fairly well maintained, but are often very narrow and are almost always very busy.  I have say that the drivers here do an excellent job.  The spatial awareness of the local people is rather astonishing, as is the politeness of the road users.  People stop and let one another in constantly, they weave past one another, and I have not seen one example of road rage or impatience.  Buses and vans squeeze through the narrowest of spaces, simultaneously avoiding motorbikes and pedestrians.  It fascinates me!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

While we drove Yuda entertained us with traditional Balinese stories, the occasional song (he is also a wedding singer and many of the songs reflected his love of ballads) and even a few dad jokes.  He also answered all our questions about life in Bali and was willing to share information about his own family.  Yuda had married well above his caste, which had been problematic for his wife’s family. He talked about how he eventually resolved difficulties with them.  He also spoke about tooth filing ceremonies, and explained how he had refused to have it carried out on himself (and subsequently for his children).  Yuda explained the cremation ceremonies, and some of the cultural and philosophical issues about the current expense that is involved.  He was an outstanding guide and I feel privileged to have met him.  I love learning about how people live, and he gave us a great deal of insight.  He appeared to be a many of many roles and was clearly not defined by a particular one (such as “tour guide”).

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Our next destination was Tenganan village.  We wound down incredibly steep roads from Rendang towards the coast.  The views across to the ocean were spectacular!  It is currently dry season in Bali, and although the rice paddies were almost fluorescently green, there were some parts of jungle that I thought could do with a bit of rain.  It has rained twice since we arrived, but each time during the night and only for a brief time.  It was another 50 km from Rendang to Tenganan, which took us around an hour and a half.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Tenganan village was only opened to tourism in the 1970s.  The Bali Aga people live there, with traditions and architecture that are different to those found elsewhere in Bali.  It’s worth a read of the Wikipedia link.  The drawcard for us was that Tenganan is also the home of hand-dyed and hand-woven ikat and double ikat textiles.  While it was interesting to see the village layout it didn’t take long before we were inside a local house watching the weaving process and admiring the textiles.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

There were two pieces of weaving under construction.  One was double ikat, with dyed warp and weft threads making up the pattern.  Double ikat pieces are the most expensive due to the labour intensive processes and time taken to manufacture them.  They are slightly sheer, as the warp and weft cross threads are kept equidistant in order for the dyed pattern to emerge beautifully.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

A teenager was weaving single ikat on a backstrap loom.  Single ikat has only the weft threads pre-dyed.  It was fascinating to watch her work and carefully line up the pre-dyed threads so that the pattern was as precise as possible.  Because only the weft are dyed into patterns, they are pushed closer together and pretty much cover the single coloured  warp threads.  The white selvedges allow for a little “play” in lining up the weft threads.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Quite a few of the group purchased pieces of single ikat from the family (the double ikat was out of the budget for most of us).  I was thrilled to purchase my piece directly from the maker and have a photo taken with her and the piece of weaving.  It took her two weeks to weave on the backstrap loom.  That of course doesn’t count the work involved in dyeing the threads in the first place; it’s just the weaving time.  I also bought a smaller piece that had been made by the grandmother of the house.  She was thrilled to sell quite a few pieces to us; all simple ones that mainly showed variegation in weave as her eyesight is now very poor and she cannot weave complex designs.  There were lots of smiles from the family and as we left the house Yuda told us that we had brought them prosperity!  They had provided us with an unforgettable experience and some wonderful memories – a pretty good trade, I think!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Outside were men selling carved bookmarks in a variety of intricate designs.  These were carved onto bamboo, and we were able to have them personalised.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

And once again, back on the bus!  We had one more stop on the agenda.  We drove another 50km along the coastline to Batubulan to visit Sari Amerta to see their batik collection.  This time the drive was a little shorter; a little over an hour.  There was always so much to see from the bus and Yuda kept us entertained and informed.  Topics that were covered ranged from politics to education to healthcare!  It was also interesting to see the changes in terrain and corresponding variations in vegetation and architecture.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

It was late in the day when we arrived at Sari Amerta, and there were only two women still working on textile manufacture.  Watching them deftly apply wax for batik we had a whole new level of respect for their skill and artistry.  There were also a couple of looms to examine, and a number of treadle sewing machines and overlockers.  Many of us did purchase a few pieces of quality batik garments while we were there.  By this stage everyone was pretty tired and all looking forward to getting back to the resort.  So it was onto the bus again and the shorter 15km half hour drive home.  I’m just doing some quick sums – we travelled around 170km total over the course of the day.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Then it was time for cocktails at the cafe nearby followed by dinner at the resort.  Our waiter entertained us with a couple of magic tricks, much to the hilarity of our group and the rest of the restaurant staff.  Yes, it was another wonderful day!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Thursday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 – Wednesday

I have run out of superlatives. Every cliche that you have ever heard about Bali – tropical paradise, friendly people, life changing, among many others – have become the cliches that they are because they are pretty much true. There are valid reasons why people flock to Bali!  However, along with the cliched “things to do in Bali” activities like visit a temple, see a dance performance, walk among rice paddies, do a yoga class (you can probably think of more) I wonder how many people take that extra step to participate in activities such as a batik and indigo dyeing class?

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Threads of Life have an associated foundation, the Bebali Foundation who work towards sustainable livelihoods for indigenous people throughout Indonesia through a focus on textile and natural dyeing arts.  To assist in funding their work and educating others they run natural dyeing classes at Umajati Retreat.  Half our group took the class on Tuesday, so yesterday (Wednesday) it was my turn.  After breakfast we were taken to Umajati where we found ourselves among not only the lush Balinese gardens that have become familiar to us, but also a garden full of the plants used for making and dyeing textiles.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Our instructor Tutut talked to us about both the batik and dyeing process.  I’d done a batik class many years ago when I was at school, but as I had discovered the day before on my bike tour, you really do need to continue to practice things to get good at them!  Tutut explained the process of building up a design in varying tones of indigo.  She showed us a design that contained around five colours.  We were going to work with three – white, mid-blue, and darker indigo blue.  Tutut went through the equipment we would be using, and then we got started.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

The first step involved sketching a design on our cloth with a pencil.  Drawing is not one of my strong points.  I have never considered myself to be artistically creative.  Sure, I can make things, and I think that over time I have developed some sort of an eye for colour, pattern and shape, but translating any of that into an ability to draw in a pleasing matter is another thing.  Tutut had provided us with designs that we could trace if we wanted to, but I decided to come up with my own design based on some of the principles we had heard about in the textiles lecture earlier in the week.  I began at the outside, with a border around the whole piece then vertical borders to contain the design and represent the selvedges of woven cloth.  I then sketched some lozenge shapes as they were one of the motifs that William had spoken about.  After staring at the design for a few minutes wondering what I would put in the centre of the lozenges, I decided to involve the artistry of the Balinese people and use one of their flower stamps for each one.  I surprised myself a little at how easily this design seemed to flow for me.  I really had anticipated that I would agonise over it, wanting to come up with something perfect for my class.  Instead I relaxed and went with the flow.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

And it was a good thing that I did relax and go with the flow – because the flow of the beeswax mixture through the tjanting tool that is used to apply it can be rather unpredictable for a beginner!  We all made blobs, spots and splashes that we certainly were not intending to make.  And with wax, there is no going back!  Many of our designs were forced to evolve a little different to account for our mistakes, and we really did have to just ease off and embrace the imperfections.  This is quite a change for me.  I like things to be done well.  I don’t consider myself to be a perfectionist, but I do have fairly high standards.  So the process of applying the wax was a good one for me.  Relax, embrace, it’s not perfect, but the overall result may still be pleasing.  And yes, of course there are many levels on meaning in that sentence too, as with many things on Bali!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

After we’d done all the lines that we wanted to stay white in the wax, the fabric was taken to the dye bath for the first dunk into indigo.  This first process was done with fresh indigo, made by simply putting the leaves of the plant into water and fermenting them for a day, then adding quicklime.  The dyers put some of the yellow-green liquid that had come from the leaves into another contained then dipped the fabric in and out a few times, allowing the air to gradually oxidise the colour to blue.  Then they went on the line to dry off so that we would be able to apply the second layer of wax.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday<

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

While it was drying, we were able to tour through the garden and see all the plants that were used throughout the region in the traditional manufacture of textiles.  This included cotton, sisal, and ramie which produce the fibres, and the plants that are used both as dyes and as mordants to prepare the fibres for dyeing.  Only the red (morinda) and blue (indigo) are actually colourfast on cotton, although there are also plants that produce yellow and brown.  It was fascinating to actually see the plants and to discover which parts of the plant were used.  The foundation work on identifying the plants and the conditions under which they grow best in order to ensure that they can be sustainable for the communities that use them.  I found it interesting to hear that there had been studies done on one plant that discovered that by using a different part of the plant than that traditionally used they could obtain a stronger dye that would then effectively halve the workload for the people using it – instead of it taking 20 applications of dye to get the colour that they wanted, it would only take 10.  At the same time, using a different part of the plant allowed the plant to grow better, making the availability of the dye greater.  I could go on and on about the benefits of the research that the foundation has done.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Once the fabric had dried it was time to add our second layer of wax to areas we wanted to stay lighter blue.  This time I used a paintbrush to apply the wax to larger areas, but then had fun using the tjanting again to make dots in an attempt to camouflage some of my earlier spills and splashes.  This time the indigo was applied differently.  We used indigo from a powdered indigo vat, much more familiar to the Australian dyers in the group than the leaves in water we had seen earlier.  The fabric was placed onto a shallow flat tray, and a small amount of the indigo was added.  We then rubbed the water over the fabric a few times before it was hung up to dry.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

While the fabric dried we ate lunch.  It came wrapped in large leaves, secured with small bamboo slivers, and was the most delicious vegetarian meal that I have ever eaten.  So, so good!  Tutut was always available to answer any questions – and from our group, there were plenty!  There were a couple of women in our group with dyeing experience – one of who does it as a business – and they asked interesting and incisive questions.  It was just as great seeing the different designs evolving.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

The last step in the process was to remove the wax and reveal the design.  This was done by immersing the fabric in rapidly boiling water, with another substance added (I have forgotten what).  I was surprised at how well the wax came out!  And then, the ta-da moment!  I think that we were all pretty happy with what we had done, even if it wasn’t “perfect”.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

You know, I thought that I had a pretty good theoretical knowledge of textiles and many associated crafts, even if I didn’t have the practical experience in all of them.  I have been reading craft magazines and books since I was a kid, starting with my mother’s and grandmother’s Golden Hands collection then progressing to whatever other information I could get my hands on.  I’ve dabbled in a few crafts over the years, while maintaining a garment sewing focus.  I probably do have a broad overview of many crafts, but being in the presence of the talented women in my group, and the extremely experienced specialists from Threads Of Life and the Bebali Foundation has reminded me that I have barely scratched the surface.  Ah well, always the generalist, never the specialist!  There is always so much more to discover.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

After the class we were dropped back in the centre of Ubud.  I took the opportunity to change some money and browse in some of the shops lining the very hot and busy roads.  The shops with air conditioning were definitely the ones that I preferred!  There are so many lovely things that you can buy in Ubud, although they are not all cheap!  Yes, you can get “market tat” for very little money, but quality items in the shops varied from what I consider to be moderate prices to ones that I wouldn’t pay in Australia.  However, they often used beautiful and unusual fabrics or designs. It was hot and packed in central Ubud, and I was thrilled to get back to the resort to the massage that I had booked.

I really needed that massage!  I was hot and bothered not only from the climate but also because the shuttle we’d book to take us back to the resort had failed to arrive and I was running late.  And when you’re with a group, running late has a knock on effect, as we were all due to catch another shuttle back into town for early dinner fairly soon after.  Anyway, I breathed out, drank the ginger tea that I was offered at the spa, then settled in to a lovely full body massage with “Clarity” scented oil.  The resort spa is located right by the river, so as I lay on the table having my muscles rubbed I listened to the river water running and to fountains nearby.  Oh, the cliches!  After my massage I was offered another drink and fresh fruit, before I headed back into town to rejoin the group.

We ate dinner at Casa Luna, and once again it was excellent.  This time I had five spice duck rice paper rolls, then pork spare ribs done Indonesian style.  Add to that a couple of cocktails, and before I knew it it was time to head to the Palace for the Legong and Barong Dance.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

I have seen Balinese dance in the past, but this time I watched it with different eyes.  I am not much of a fan of Gamelan music, and suspect it takes some time to attune your ear to it properly in order to truly appreciate it.  However, this time I was more focused on the dancers themselves.  We saw three main dances; the Legong Kraton Dance, Barong dance, and Sunda Upasunda.  We had been provided with a program explaining each dance, but I only glanced at it before it began, challenging myself to figure out the story just by watching the dances.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

Okay, I gave up and referred to the program.  There was no doubt of some elements, but there were others I had no idea about.  Legong is classical dance that enacts traditional stories.  As Wikipedia says, “it is a refined dance form characterized by intricate finger movements, complicated footwork, and expressive gestures and facial expressions.”  What I didn’t realise until I checked Wikipedia was the age of the dancers!  “Legong dancers are always girls who have not yet reached puberty. They begin rigorous training at about the age of five.”  Good grief!  What I really noticed was the complexity of the movements.  Eyes look from side to side, fingers and toes move in different patterns, and overall it looks incredibly complicated.  The costumes makeup are superb, unsurprisingly, with detail upon detail upon detail.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Wednesday

And that was it for the day!  After the dancing we headed back to the resort, and I was straight to my room.  I’m feeling tired!  This morning I’m skipping yoga (wasn’t I saying something only yesterday about incorporating yoga into my everyday life?  Oh, the irony) in order to just take things a little more slowly before we head off on our day trip.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 – Tuesday

One of the benefits of sitting down in the morning to type these blog posts is the opportunity to reflect on the day before and to begin to process some of the things that I have learned from it.  In Bali, many things have numerous layers of meaning.  I am discovering more about that from the Balinese context each day, and am also discovering more about that within myself.  I am also running out of superlatives that can accurately convey the beauty of the country and my enjoyment of what I am experiencing here.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

The day began with yet another delicious breakfast.  The restaurant makes an excellent omelette, and a really good double espresso!  Our group was divided yesterday, with half doing a batik indigo dyeing workshop (I’ll be doing that today), some taking the opportunity to rest and relax at the resort, and three of us taking the opportunity to go on a bicycle ride.  We booked a tour with Green Bike Cycling Tours.  We were collected from our resort and drove up toward Kintamani.  Along the way we stopped to gaze at the rice terraces at Tegallalang.  What IS it about rice terraces that makes them so compelling?  Maybe it’s a combination of the intense greenery, the water, and the undulating shapes and one level is stacked above the other.  They are so beautiful.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Our next stop was at Laksmi Bali, a coffee plantation.  Our guide took us slowly down a pathway among a wide variety of plants that are grown and harvested across Bali.  She explained the processes involved in harvesting a number of the plants, and focused on coffee.  We were shown two varieties of coffee plant, and were introduced to the animal that assists in the processing of the beans used to make Luwak Coffee.  At that plantation there are a couple of civets kept in cages to show tourists the animal used in the coffee production, but that particular producer uses beans sold to them by simple farmers that collect the bean-laded faeces dropped by wild civets on the jungle floor.  The civets eat the coffee fruits, then the seeds/coffee beans in the centre of the fruit pass through the civet and are dropped in their faeces.  These are collected, washed and dried, the outer seeds are removed, they are washed and dried again, then are processed into coffee.  It takes about 40 days of processing the beans used for Luwak coffee; normal beans harvested from the trees take around 20 days.  The beans were then dry roasted, then pummelled in a large mortar and pestle into powder.  At this particular plantation it looked very labour intensive!

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

 We had the opportunity to taste a number of teas and coffees produced by the plantation.  And yes, two of us did try the Luwak coffee – as one of our guides called it, a “cat-poo-cino”!  It was a lovely strong coffee that had been drip filtered, but wasn’t distinctive enough to make me buy the most expensive coffee in the world.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Our next stop was for late breakfast at Kintamani overlooking the active volcano of Mount BaturMount Agung and the caldera lake.  Basalt from the lava flows is actively mined in the area to provide rock.  The lake is fished, and the area mostly relies on agriculture for income, but as with many places in Bali, tourism is becoming more important.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Then it was time for our bikes!  Green Bike Cycling provided mountain bikes with great suspension, double handle breaks and gears and bike helmets, as well as our brilliant guide Dewa at the front and Agus at the rear of our five-person group.  The van that had driven us up to Kintamani acted as a support van, meeting us at different points on our ride with cool water and anything else that we needed.  Then we were off!  We started on very quiet back roads and rolled gently along, with the air rushing past us.  It wasn’t long before we stopped to visit a simple family home.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

This house was an interesting contrast to the one that we had visited on our ridge top walk a few days earlier.  The basic layout was the same, but the compound was much, much less elaborate.  Our tour group visits provide the family with much needed income.  Dewa spent considerable time explaining the layout of the house, and took us into the building that was the grandparent’s home.  It was a simple one room building with woven walls, a stretcher bed in one corner, cooking stove in the centre, and shelves in other corners.  A basket of rice hung from the ceiling, and wood to stoke the cooking stove was on a shelf above it.  The ceiling was completely blackened from the smoke produced by the stove.  Rather incongruously, there was an ipad charging on the bed!  Dewa explained that the grandparents were paying for their grandson’s education, and the ipad was part of that.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

We also had the opportunity to prepare some offerings to contribute to the number that the family needed for the next day. The grandmother was busy weaving small baskets to be sold at the local market – apparently she had a large order for a couple of hundred.  Her fingers worked incredibly quickly and deftly.  The family had a number of roosters in bamboo cages that were apparently part of a side business of providing roosters for ceremonial cock-fighting (which often devolves to non-ceremonial “sport” cock-fighting for gambling purposes, which is apparently illegal but very common).  Dewa answered all of our questions in detail, and provided us with real insight into life in Bali.  He spoke of his own experiences growing up, where they didn’t have electricity until the 1980s, and how the traditional Balinese life is incorporating Western technologies.  He explained in beautiful and touching detail major ceremonies  throughout Balinese life.  In the background four young children skillfully played jacks with small stones.  I felt extremely privileged to have been allowed to glimpse a small part of the family’s life.  It is a difficult balance.  I don’t want to be intrusive and disrespectful, but do want to know how other people experience daily life.  Dewa and his tour company balanced this extremely well with out visit to this family.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Once back on our bikes we travelled along roads and pathways through villages, rice fields, and jungle.  I was challenged at first by how hard I found it to keep my balance well and keep the bike going where I wanted it to go on narrow raised concrete paths that had a steep drop down to rice paddies on either side.  When I was on a dirt path that was just as narrow but with a wider and grassier verge on either side I was fine, but the concrete ones with the drop made me terribly nervous and as a result terribly wobbly.  It was a bit of a wake up call, and as with many things in Bali, on different levels!  First there was the straightforward issue of physical balance.  I’m in my late forties now; I’m not the child who used to ride around dirt bike paths near the river at my parent’s home!  And yes, my balance has deteriorated.  It also highlighted issues of mind over matter.  It wasn’t the width of the path that was affecting me as much as the potential of what was on either side.  I am seriously considering how I might be able to integrate yoga into my life to improve my flexibility and my balance – on both physical and mental/spiritual levels.  By the way, I didn’t fall off or hurt myself.  Everything was fine!

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

We actually rode 25 kilometres over approximately three and a half hours, but I reckon that we only pedalled for about 1 kilometre in total.   The tour took us right through the geographical centre of Bali. I am writing this the next morning and although I’m a little saddle sore, my other muscles are basically fine.  It was mostly a coast downhill, and well worth it to pass people going around their daily business.  Stone carvers hard at work painting concrete moulds with machine oil before pouring in the concrete to make buildings for temples.  Women walking past in their sarongs and kebayas (or simple t-shirts) carrying large items on their heads.  Harvested rice laid out on sheets of plastic in the sun to dry.  Dogs lounging around and cats sitting up high.  Children in their school uniforms. And the sounds!  Motorbikes in the distance, a variety of birds, music coming from temples and from dance schools, people talking, the sound of the timber wind driven bird scarers in the rice fields going clack clack (apparently they are entirely ineffective), and the sounds of children playing and laughing.  Then there are the smells.  As we rode along the smells changes constantly.  We’d get a whiff of compost, of smoke, the scent of a flower, of incense.  One minute the sun would be strong on our skin and the next we would be feeling cool in the shade of the jungle as the breeze ran past us while we free-wheeled.  Such a sensory experience.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

I really felt that I had seen the way that many of the Balinese live their lives on an day to day basis, away from the areas of high tourist concentration like central Ubud.  The Bali of many years ago is definitely still there.  The day was a special one for me on many levels.  I highly recommend to anyone coming to Ubud to schedule a tour with Green Bike Cycling.  Our ride ended with lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking yet more rice paddies.  It’s a good thing that I never seem to get sick of them!

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

We were back at our resort at 4pm, which gave me time for a dip in the pool before cocktails then dinner.  Meeting at the end of the day to discuss our experiences is always wonderful.  The group is learning from one another as much as we are learning from Bali.

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat recreate Bali 2015 Tuesday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 – Monday

After a light and delicious breakfast, our day began with a yoga class.  I think it has been around 20 years since I last did yoga.  In fact, it’s possibly longer!  Our instructor was excellent, and I was surprised to discover that I did remember some of the poses and the movements.  Equally, I was not surprised to discover that I have very little joint flexibility nowadays.  I enjoyed the class, and it’s made me start to consider how I can practically incorporate more movement and flexibility training into my everyday life.  Two of our group were able to do a incredible pose standing on one leg with one arm going backward over there shoulder to meet the other arm with the circle formed by their arms holding up their leg.  Those of you who do yoga on a regular basis probably know the pose that I am attempting to describe.  I felt like clapping them!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday
Photo courtesy of Niki

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday
Susan and I in our Tessuti Eva dresses and Elk necklaces…

After yoga we headed to Threads Of Life in central Ubud for a lecture by William Ingram.  Copied straight from their website: Threads of Life is a fair trade business that works with culture and conservation to alleviate poverty in rural indonesia. The heirloom-quality textiles and baskets we commission are made with local materials and natural dyes to an exquisite standard usually seen only in museums.  We work directly with over 1,000 women on 11 islands across Indonesia, helping weavers to form independent cooperatives, to recover the skills of their ancestors, to manage their resources sustainably, and to express their culture identity while building their financial security.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

William spoke to us for well over an hour (was it two?  the time absolutely flew by) about the history of Indonesian textiles and their role in the community in practical, cultural and spiritual ways.  Somehow he was able to interweave information about Balinese culture and religion into his talk in ways that gave me much greater understanding of the structures and beliefs from the perspective of the Balinese rather than from my own Western paradigms.  I know that I have a very long way to go in that regard, but definitely felt a shift in the way that I process that information and attempt to make sense of it.  I actually found it rather moving!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

And of course, the stories of the textiles were fascinating.  Indonesia, and especially the islands that William works with, has an extremely long history of producing and trading in textiles.  He talked us through the meanings and evolutions of different patterns and how they changed over time in different locations.  He also talked about the natural dyes that are used, and how they are gathered and produced by the different communities.  The depth and breadth of knowledge that William has was astounding, as is the work that he has done to ensure that the traditional knowledge and customs around textiles can be maintained in ways that are also financially beneficial to communities.  In addition to running the Threads of Life business, there is a foundation that among many other things works to gather knowledge on the plants that are used for dyeing and to identify them scientifically as well as by local names.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday
Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

William also explained the double ikat process of weaving.  I thought that I knew what ikat was, but really after listening to William I realised that I had absolutely no idea of the complexity, skill and time involved in doing the process well.  There are some textiles that are actually multi-generational!  One woman starts with dyeing the threads, knowing that it will be daughters or granddaughters who eventually weave the completed textile.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

I can barely scratch the surface with what I am able to share about William’s lecture.  Please take the time to read through the Threads Of Life website if you are at all interested in these textiles.  The weavings we saw were absolutely beautiful, with their imperfections showing their humanity, as well as often being quite deliberate.  All of the patterns have different meanings, and even though sometimes particular motifs are given names, the associated meaning is not always known to those outside of the community producing them.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

And yes, I did purchase some textiles there.  Two beautifully hand-dyed scarves, that I know will be worn with new appreciation of the processes involved in making and applying the natural dyes.  And speaking of natural dyes, today half our group will be doing a class in indigo dyeing.  The other half – me included – will be doing the class tomorrow.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Following our lecture we ate lunch at Casa Luna in Ubud.  From their website: Casa Luna celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2012. Since July 1992, Casa Luna has been serving wholesome, affordable food to discerning guests. Our Balinese-style Paella has become legendary, the lime tart has been named the best dessert in Bali, the coffee reigns supreme and our baked goods are famous.  They are right.  The food is delicious.  I had five spiced duck on noodles, followed by an absolutely superb coffee.  There is no doubt that I am indulging the sense of taste while I am here!

2015-10-06 05.37.20
Photo courtesy of Susan

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

I had a quick wander through the markets in Ubud after lunch.  My daughters had sent me to Bali with a list of DVDs to buy, so I got that job out of the way quite quickly.  I bought them some simple shorts at a market stall, and also bought a sarong length of commercially printed batik patterned fabric that I really wasn’t intending to buy – for well under half the price it was initially quoted.  I really don’t like bargaining, but always do it with a smile.  However when I say no thank you, that is actually what I mean – it isn’t meant to be a finally bargaining chip!  But in the end I felt sorry for the seller.  I’m a pushover, but am happy to be one in these situations.  Give me a fixed price shop any day!  There are a number of beautiful shops in Bali selling quality hand-made goods and beautiful fabrics, so I hope to be able to avoid the markets from now on and pop in to some of those.  However, I’m not really here to shop (although it is a pleasant side-effect).

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

I had a massage booked at Cantika Jasmine spa in the afternoon.  The spa is reached by turning off a larger road and walking down a narrow lane through rice fields.  I chose to have a combination of massage, scrub and flower bath.  It was wonderful.  It started by stripping down to those disposable undies that look and feel like a chux cloth with elastic, then me being like a little kid and figuring that if I kept my eyes closed and couldn’t see the masseur then she couldn’t see that I was pretty much naked.  Oh, the delusion.  I began face down while my back half was massaged with warm oils.  The pressures were terrific – painful enough to be doing good (I often need remedial massages as I hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders) without causing me to grimace or hold my breath.  The warm oil was following by a cooling scrub.  I giggled at the contrast when it was first applied.  Then I rolled over and the process was repeated on my front.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

I eventually lay in a beautiful warm bath filled with flowers, herbs and leaves.  My masseur bought me a drink of hot ginger tea, and I just lay there listening to the variety of birds, the occasional motorbike in the distance, the quiet chatter and laughter in Balinese of the women working at the spa, and sometimes a dog barking.  I very rarely just stop and lie down and listen, but now I had no choice!  Eventually as the water cooled to the temperature of the warm air around me, it was time to get out and shower.  I emerged about an hour and three quarters after I entered the spa feeling refreshed and rested.

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

But then it was time to meet the rest of the group for cocktails again!  We enjoyed our two for the price of one happy hour, then slowly walked back to the resort, popping in to visit some of the shops nearby.  One that a number of us particularly enjoyed was Aku boutique.  There will be more visits there before the week is over!

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday

Retreat Recreate Bali 2015 Monday
Photo courtesy of Niki

The day ended similarly to the previous one with dinner at Svarga Loka.  There is always a great deal of conversation over dinner, on a variety of topics.  We are blessed in the cohesion of our group and the way that we have bonded.  Most of us didn’t know one another well at all before coming on the retreat, yet have found many commonalities and often discovered overlapping circles and connections between our lives.  Everyone is able to do their own thing, yet usually there are a number of other people interested in doing similar.  So fortunate. Well, it’s time for me to have breakfast before heading off on a cycling trip down a volcano!  As you do!