New Year's Eve was very exciting! Each village creates a demon creature doll called an Ogoh-ogoh. Many are in stomping positions or engaged in battle with another creature. They are all different but many have ruthless yet comical looking long nails, fangs and tufts of fur. They vary in size from 5 to 6 feet to a few stories tall. These are carried around the streets in a menacing way, twisting and turning to scare away and confuse the evil spirits. This is accompanied by drums and bells and carried around by kids and young adults. It is very loud affair!
I walked around for a few hours with an Australian artist/scooter enthusiast observing all of the excitement. I was in bed by 10 p.m. -- I like the way the Balinese party!
I am in an artsy town in Bali, Indonesia called Ubud. Its quite a bit larger then Pai in Thailand and has a more polished feel. It's about an hour away from where boozing Australians come to get drunk! I arrived Thursday night and it's Saturday now. I haven't yet seen too much of the town but did meet a couple of people, had a few meals, toured an artist studio and learned that prices here can vary considerably. I had one meal at a cool place with live music, seared tuna on a baguette with a ginger fizzy drink for $8. Another meal was more authentic, served on banana leaves and consisted of rice, green beans with sauce, coconut crepes and a pineapple shake for $2.20. When I tried to tip at the other place they returned my change! I know both are cheap by American standards but one is almost four times more then the other, and it does make a difference if you are a backpacker trying to live on a budget.
One place told me a Indonesian Sim card would cost $5 and another one happily sold me one for $1. I was shocked to learn that you bargain for everything, even things that we consider to have a set price like a Sim card or hotel room. I saw a beautiful room for $60 which by the end of the conversation was $45. I left and settled in a decent place for $25/night. Quite a bit more then the $10/night I was used to paying in Thailand but worth the comfortable mattress, white sheets and warm shower!
I hired a taxi and guide who will take me shopping to various nearby towns on Monday. I am looking forward to seeing all of the silver, carved wood and art items. My backpack is almost full and I will likely have to buy an additional duffel bag. So far I have tried to hold off on buying things other then some clothing or jewelry because I didn't want to schlep it around. But I am ready to expand my luggage!