Selamat Natal
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, 2008-12-25 12:00 by Martin
And so we came to Bali, the second chapter in our, until now, migratory journey through Asia.
The Holidays were closing in, so we decided to go straight to Ubud, where Laerkes friends from Uni, Sophie and Tippe, have settled for a while. Ubud is a great place, set among beautiful green hills and even greener ricepaddies, with many small villages to explorer and nature paths to walk.
The city itself is not quite as idyllic as it sounds though. The many tourists and semi settled foreigners have made the city grow to a decent sized town, with traffic jams and lots of trade minded singlehandedly on tourism. But still Ubud retains a somewhat rural feel, and it is a great place to spend time, especially if you have friends there.
Ubud is known as the spiritual center of Bali, and many expats/tourists seem to really like the idea – spiritualism, yoga and organic food are high on the list in many shops and cafes. It actually leads your thoughts back to India, with all the ashrams, yoga-classes and other new-aged hippie ideology. It seems a bit fake though and we couldn’t help but laugh at the name Sophie gave hippies in Ubud: “Botox hippies”, a name drawn from the fact that some of these middle-aged hippies have peculiarly perky lips, bums or chests.

We didn’t do much in Ubud, other than enjoying the scenery, a lovely pool and our good friends and their splendid company. Sophie and Tippe are there for the same reason as we are, practicing their Bahasa Indonesia and in the mean time enjoying Balinese culture and life. We had a great time eating delicious food and even more delicious cake in the many fantastic restaurants around Ubud.
We spend Christmas with Sophie, Tippe, Tippes husband Anom and their two adorable girls, Siwi and Gaya. We ate a great Balinese feast consisting of tasty fish, Urab (a Balinese salad), rice and sambal (homemade balinese chilisauce/salad) and many other small dishes that Anom’s family had cooked up for ours sake. We got so stuffed, that we had to wait having dessert until after we had song Christmas carols and danced round the Christmas tree. The tree itself was quite untraditional, but none the less much more fitting to a Balinese Christmas. No pine trees are to be had in Bali, so the tree consisted of potted palm leaves, decorated with homemade Christmas decorations – all in all a beautiful ensemble.
After the dancing we sat down again to have Ris a la Mande. Sophie was the chef for this traditional Danish Christmas dessert and she had conjured up a great bowl with cherry sauce and everything (brought from Denmark). As we were a lot of people, we had two whole almonds in the Ris a la Mande; and guess who got them – Laerke and myself! This meant presents for us, consisting of yummy chocolates – that were promptly tasted! After the dessert the gifts were ready for unpacking. (It’s tradition in Scandinavia to celebrate Christmas and open Christmas gifts on the 24th.). As on par with a normal Danish Christmas, Tippes girls got the most of the presents.
It was a cozy and fun night and it was great to be surrounded again by good friends; talking, laughing and simply having a good time, long into the night.