Sunday, November 28, 2010


The Yoga Barn, in central Ubud  was started in 1992 and is owned by an American woman. She has built a mini-empire consisting of a two-level yoga studio with classes all day, a shop selling yoga clothes, a restaurant that is one of our favorites (Kafe--a true natural food/organic spot) and offerings of healing sessions and related events. Besides the Yoga Barn there are Yoga classes offered in many hotels and Yoga studios.  We go to Yoga sessions at a small studio just a five minute walk down the path from our house.  It is owned and run by a French-Canadian woman, Linda, with one or two classes a day and most taught by Linda. She is a wonderful teacher and her two hour classes are a generous mix of yoga and meditation.

Ubud is a small town--no traffic lights and only 3 main streets but filled with touristy shops, spas, yoga studios, hotels, (nothing is taller than 3 stories) and restaurants. (Speaking of restaurants, there are so many good to excellent eateries plus many local places that serve good, wholesome food and all at ridiculously low prices compared to the cost of food in the states. We also find a lot of organic produce and grains and even the locals are getting with it.  We eat out almost every night because the restaurant food is better and cheaper than what we can cook at home--altho we do make breakfast and lunch at home.) Ubud has become, over the last 10-15 years, a true yoga/healing/new-age center.  One cannot walk very far without passing offerings of Tibetan sound massage (you must try this!), healing sessions by local healers as well as healers from all over the world, yoga classes, chakra healing, meditation workshops and every kind of new-age treatment and event.  All of these things are frequented by tourists of all ages and nationalities, ex-patriots from all over the globe and even some locals. [Yoga is a tradition among the Balinese as their religion is Hindu, but a Balinese form of Hinduism, with their own Gods, some animism and a few other goofy practices.]

People come from all parts of the world for Yoga workshops and teacher training in every form of yoga--hatha, vinyasa flow, ayenga, ashtenga--you name it, we've got it.  In March the Yoga Barn sponsors a week-long Yoga festival  with classes, dance, chanting and a lot of fun.  There is also a large and varied selection of healing and massages including the newly popular ayurvedic.  I should add that all of these classes and sessions are very inexpensive compared to what they cost in the states.  Of course there are the expensive, upscale hotels and spas which due charge US prices.  

So we pick and choose our medicine, love our local yoga studio--Intuitive Flow, and go with the flow!  ((Do you kids still say that?)  As a matter of fact I'm off to to a class as soon as I finish this post.

Last night there was an Indian music and dance recital right in our neighborhood and the price of about $10 included a meal beforehand--it was great!  A lot of people showed up and we all had a fabulous time.


This past week we went to a special ceremony in our friends village celebrating a 30 year cycle.  He said it is done in order to re-charge people's interest in their religion.  
Ceremonies here are so frequent and ubiquitous that one could go to a ceremony just in our town once a week--easily.  There are thousands of temples on this dot in the ocean--family temples, village temples, community temples, public temples and then the larger temples for larger areas--and they have ceremonies often.  Every full and new moon (they call dead moon), births, weddings, deaths (no bar mitzvahs) and to celebrate events as well as Balinese holidays. Small offerings of coconut baskets filled with fruit, rice, flowers, cakes and incense are made every day and put out in front of every house and shop.  On special occasions these offering are large and may include dead animals.

At this ceremony we attended we were the only westerners and squeezed in this small and very busy temple filled with dances, a shadow puppet play, praying, chanting socializing and all going on the same time--crazy!  Here are some photos.






Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Lifting up Buckets of Cement

This week we saw the start of the 2nd story of the main house.  That is, the ceiling was put in place, which becomes the floor of level two. Today and for many years houses in Bali have been, and still are, made of cement and cinder blocks, wood being scarce and, therefore, expensive.  Wood--teak, mahogany and others are used for door & window frames, roof beams and furniture.  So we have a great deal of cement being mixed--by hand in small troughs--with the bags of cement and rocks and sand and steel rods for the re bar carried up the 16 steps and the 7 minute walk down the narrow path to our house.  All day cinder blocks are stacked and cemented into place to form walls which will eventually be plastered over.

Me With Supervisor, Gede
Checking the Plans

We did have a two day diversion via a trip to Singapore in order to secure our Indonesian Retirement Visas which will allow us certain privileges such as opening a bank account and the ability to say here uninterrupted with only an annual government fee.  Singapore is not a very exciting city, but it is known for great shopping and world-class food.  We stayed (for the 2nd time) in Little India, which, as you can guess has a pretty good selection of Indian food.  But we opted to eat mostly Singaporean cuisine in casual open air restaurants.  Singaporean food is a rich, spicy and flavorful blend of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian ingredients and tastes--lots of seafood and vegetables, and a plethora of food courts, consisting of varieties of noodle dishes, soups, curries and much more--all wonderful!  We had dim sum one morning that was delicious!  We went to the Singapore Art Museum to see the works of two very prolific artists, both with a broad range of style and techniques--loved them both. The museum is in a beautiful, old building that has been retrofitted to house works of art and contains many exhibits, all excellently presented--even some Dale Chihouly glass!  We accomplished our mission and after two days there our visas were processed and we returned to Bali late Wednesday night--tired but relieved to have finalized this important step.

We see how important it is for us to be here, as there are revisions and changes that come up almost daily.  Luckily, our architect, engineer and site supervisor are always cooperative and do their best to keep us happy.
Who is that with our architect?
 Keep tuned for the story of Ubud and all the yoga and new age activity here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Fishing!

We Now Have a Wall!

Well, I can hardly believe the progress in the past week! I was in Tejakula for another relaxing yoga retreat, and by the time I returned, the house had risen up above the wall, and the wall was almost complete.
2nd Story Going Up...

There are now two teams working on construction; one for the guest house and the other for the main. The foundations are now complete and today, they started working on the second floor.
The women are still bringing up material stacked on their heads as well as giant bamboo poles used to support the second floor while the concrete dries. Some of the pieces of bamboo are about 15 ft tall and larger than my thigh around. The site is now filled with sand, bamboo, rocks and window frames, with hardly any space left to walk about.
Almost every afternoon it rains for about an hour, makes the site muddy, but then the work continues. There are now about 15 men on the site at any one time. There is only a plywood shack, and they climb down a long rickety homemade ladder to the creek below for bathing and toileting. 
Henry came down to ‘supervise’ the building early and was fortunate to attend a very large cremation in the village of Peliatan. It was the cremation of a King of the region, who was also very wealthy. He died about 4 months ago, was buried initially, and was now having the ceremony to release his spirit so that he can be reborn.
There were thousands of enthusiastic villagers carrying the 75 ft cremation tower and three huge bulls to the temple, 1 mile away. It took most of the day..probably around 6 hours. Many people waited all day by the side of the road and there was a carnival like atmosphere.  Cotton candy, plastic toys for kids and food of all sorts were being hawked by vendors walking up and down the streets.

We now have a name for our Villa and will call it Villa Semua Suka....sounds exactly like it looks. It means 'everyone likes' ....and I hope it proves to be true! 

Yesterday, we went shopping for plumbing supplies. It was so exciting, looking at toilets, sinks and shower heads!
We are really glad to be here on-site at the building. There are minor changes and sometimes mistakes that are made, and we are able to intervene before it goes too far. A window in the guest bathroom was left out, and after the doorway between the bedroom and bath was installed, we realized that it needed to be enlarged in order to open up the room and make it feel larger. There was also a small fish pond built between the two verandahs in the main house, but that was a surprise…and we’re delighted with it. We also asked to have an extra window installed there so that we’d be able to look out and see the fish. But remember…no fishing allowed!