bird It was getting close to when we would be going home, so I decided I couldn’t leave without sketching Bird. Situated on a corner between reception and the pool, though there are two other birds, this bird is the one in the most prominent position. He is also the one that talks the most. He has a piercing wolf whistle and an even more piercing screech. He can say selamat pagi (good morning) and apa kabar? (How are you?). Broni was trying to teach him to say “I’m a very silly bird” but I don’t think she had a lot of success.  Everyone talks to Bird, but after close observation we realised that the gardener is the main tutor. Bird sleeps hidden in the top of his cage, but he will sometimes come down if you say goodnight to him.

IMG_5063After Broni was a little better we had started swimming before breakfast, and we did that also this morning. But we had to have a fairly early breakfast, because we had decided to go to Ibu Oka for lunch. I have been meaning to go to Ibu Oka for a very long time. It is famous for suckling pig.  The thing is ,they say you must go at 11a.m. Eating suckling pig quite that early isn’t something for every day, but today we were determined. We had a slightly smaller breakfast too. Popped into the market for a little more panic shopping for friends then lunch.

Ibu Oka was a pleasant surprise. There were a number of menu options, but the choice was obvious. The menu option I chose gave a small amount of various things.  It was delicious and not too large to face at 11 a.m.  The restaurant is quite modern. It was more traditional for a long time and I am sorry I missed going there when it was like that. 

Then back for a swim and it was time to draw Bird.


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More food…and an exhibition

cendana_poolSwimming before breakfast. What a great way to start the day. However it ended up a messy morning with various boring banking things we had to do. Mostly it was Broni embroiled on that, so I went down to the little pavilion overlooking the ricefields again to sketch.

I think my brain may have been elsewhere. I had a headache. I opened my sketchbook and changed my mind about where to sit. Without realising, I reopened my sketchbook upside down and began to sketch. Once I had made a big enough mess, I realised the problem. It wasn’t recoverable, so I decided to abandon that drawing and move on.

HOWEVER, then I moved on two pages! It’s the first time I have mentioned this, but not the first time it has happened. I am using a handmade sketchbook from Fabriano Artistico 200 gsm. My sketchbook at home is the same paper. I had this problem with that book too, so I left home well aware of the problem. It is one thing in your ordinary sketchbook at home for things to be not consecutive, but in a travel sketchbook it’s a disaster.  Even though I was aware of it, I did it three times. The other times it was recoverable, because I went back and did extra sketches on the same day. This time no. So I have glued together the two pages of the upside-down sketch, and in the blank pages I have glued business cards I wanted to keep.


Cendana breakfast

For previous travel sketchbooks I have used Canaletto paper, which is 300gsm. I have NEVER turned two pages at once. I like the way that the paint moves on the Fabriano, but for travel sketchbooks I am going back to Canaletto. A shame really because a book of 200gsm paper is a lot lighter to carry.

So, after our boring business type stuff was done, we treat ourselves to a driver to Bali Kopi House. I tried the Green Bubble Tea and Broni tried a drink with crunchy bits in it. After that sustenance we walked back up the Monkey Forest Road (including the steep bit – it’s getting easier now) to the hotel. Almost immediately we went right back out again, also walking, up through the market for some more panic buying. This time I was buying a couple of extra silk scarves to make book-cloth for sketchbook covers.  I got GORGEOUS ones.

On we went to Mumbul Inn which has a new name but is the same place I have always loved. We had a late lunch of duck pancakes. Sensational. And BEST KRUPUK (prawn crackers). More about these tomorrow.

That evening we went to the opening of an exhibition of our friend Michael Paris. Michael is the American photographer I met at Villa Kitty back in February. Do have a look. His portraits are wonderful. Michael had the exhibition because he was leaving Ubud the same day as us, and to raise funds for a disabled schoolgirl who is a volunteer at Villa Kitty. I now am the proud owner of this photograph

In a sub-plot, my oldest friend Nyoman texted me early one day that week to ask if I could help him. He had found a wallet in the streeet and he wanted me to help him trace the owner. He came over on his motorbike as soon as he finished work, and I emailed the lady and sent her a Facebook message also.  It wasn’t long till she was in touch, and because of our busy social calendar she ended up picking up her wallet from the reception in the hotel while Broni and I were out. We had exchanged details of our whereabouts hoping to catch up. It turned out that she was a photographer from South Australia, so she decided to come to Michael’s exhibition, so we met both her and her husband. Elizabeth from Villa Kitty also came, and the editor of the Ubud Community magazine was there so it was an opportunity to meet him too. That’s also Michael’s photograph on the cover of the May magazine and I have a postcard size print of that too. If you were to read the magazine, you would even find my name hidden in there somewhere.  Quite a social gathering.

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Warung Bintangbali

bintangbaliWe started the day by a trip up into the jungle to Cantika Spa. Smartening ourselves up for going home. Pedicure for me, manicure for Broni. At lunchtime we decided to go somewhere entirely different. We needed somewhere to sketch, because we were having a visitor for the afternoon.


Cantika Spa “Zest”

We knew that Warung Bintang Bali had a ricefield view, so we got a driver and went up there. It is at Jujungan, about 4km from Ubud. A small warung, without trimmings, but delicious food.

I ate cah kankung (stirfried water spinach). Sketched the view as fast as I could. We had to get back to Ubud for our visitor. Threw on a lot more green after I got home. And yes, it is a Santa.



The afternoon was spent in a pavilion by the pool, chatting to our Balinese friends. We had been given a durian, and our friend Nyoman cut it up for us and we tried it. It was fine while you were eating it, but the after-taste was not so great. We kept munching one thing and another for the rest of the day to get rid of the taste. Fortunately the Balinese LOVE it, so there wasn’t any difficulty in getting help to finish it.

In the evening we decided to treat ourselves to another meal at Ibu Rai, eating exactly the same as the previous lunchtime. Unfortunately it was a bit spoilt by a man at the next table with a very stinky cigar. We don’t have any smoking in restaurants in Australia so we are not used to that at all. But full marks to the Ibu Rai staff, when we finally decided to ask to move, it was done with absolutely no fuss.

Note: A warung is a restaurant. Bintang means star.


Filed under Bali, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Drinking cool drinks

gedong_sisi_2Today Broni managed to get up and about and come to the market with me while I bought a gift for a friend. We didn’t spend too long in the market – so hot and airless inside there.  We popped across the road to Gedong Sisi where there are a myriad of things to sketch. we had to find a table where we could each see something to sketch, but in Gedong Sisi, that’s easy.

ibu_rai_lumpiaWe sat in there for a long while. First I had a papaya and mint smoothie. I followed it up with a strawberry and basil drink, which was made with soda water or similar and was very refreshing.

From there we had to go to the book shop, Periplus, and the essential oil shop. That’s handy because they are both very close to Ibu Rai restaurant. We wanted to have lunch there. They have a lot of delicious small dishes and we tried a couple more today. Plus I had a vanilla and lemongrass drink. So many great cool drinks to be found in Ubud.ibu_rai_Biu_lab_lab

Back to the hotel for resting and swimming, then out to Cinta Grill for  dinner. Broni wanted fish and chips. Something plain to settle the stomach.

hotel_riceThe ricefields beside the hotel,  only planted a day or two ago, are already very green.



Filed under Bali, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Cafe Wayan for dinner – sketching that thing

wayan_decorationBroni had been sick since the cremation on Saturday, but bravely pulled herself together to go up the volcano for the day. She is so glad she did.

Note: WordPress is playing funny games with me about the order of my posts. You may have missed yesterday’s post, about the trip up Mt Agung. It took me days to write, and  has one of my better sketches. Please have a look if you’ve missed it.

But when we got back to Ubud, Broni only wanted to go straight to bed without any dinner.

I decided to go to Cafe Wayan and eat Nasi Campur. Broni had eaten it one time previously and raved about it. So it was my turn.  As I went out the door with my sketchbook, she said ‘don’t forget to draw that thing‘. What thing?

As soon as I entered Cafe Wayan, a member of staff came forward to seat me. I looked around wildly. What thing? He seated me with ‘a view of the garden’, though the garden was dark. I was seated in the restaurant proper, rather than one of the pavilions, and I knew there was plenty to sketch there. I looked all around …what thing?

And in my blind spot, right behind my head was the ‘thing’. All along the roads, when we travel around Bali, we see shops with these decorative ‘things’ hanging up in large quantities. They are about three feet tall, I would guess. I called the waiter over and said “I would like to move to that table and sit there please. No problem. The ‘thing’ actually had two bottles of wine in front of it, which I edited out. Now I regret it, because it would show the size. I think they came up to about the lowest red dot.

Next time I go to Bali I will photograph some of these shops, and also the shops with the ornate carved doors. There are arts and crafts all along the country roads.

(Yes, the Nasi Campur was as good as she said).




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Following the path of the Night of Purnama

mt_agungPurnama is the night of the full moon.  In 1963 an English couple went to live high up on the slopes of Mt Agung,  this supposedly extinct volcano. On the night of Purnama,  the volcano blew its top. Things became very dramatic for several months, and Anna Mathews wrote a book about it, The Night of Purnama (Oxford in Asia Paperbacks). I have had this book for some years, and long been interested in going high up on Mt Agung to see where this all took place. I forced Broni to read the book, and once she had done so she was just as keen as I was.


Ikat weaving at Sidemen

The first part of the book is about the English couple coming to grips with living in Bali. Then the volcano erupts.  Balinese Hindu religion revolves around the Kalender Bali and  the ceremonies necessary to please/placate the gods. In 1963, a ceremony held once every hundred years, called Eka Dasa Rudra was due to be held high on Mt Agung, at Besakih, the mother temple. Travel agents from all over the world were due to arrive in Bali to see this spectacle. Consequently the government was keen to play down what was happening in East Bali, and the people affected were on their own.


Ergonomic seating at ikat weaving establishment

The Mathews lived in a high village called Iseh which is on a ridge looking directly across to the volcano, so they had a birds’ eye view. About two thousand people in the villages were killed. Those who were still alive came down the mountain to avoid the lava. And went back up. They had nowhere else to go, and they wanted to protect any livestock or property they had left.

From Iseh, the Mathews could see the lights going back up the mountain at night, even though it was forbidden. They were friendly with a village headman/policeman and went with him up to the high villages and saw the death and devastation (and picked up a small puppy that they eventually took back to England.)  Anna Mathews walked to Klung Kung and then Sanur.Having been up there now, it is just incredible. Read the book! I can’t tell the whole story, though I would like to. It’s gripping.

We first went to Sidemen. It was surprisingly high already. We stopped at a place where they were handweaving ikat cloth. No OH&S in Sidemen, or ergonomics. This is where my beautiful sarong had been made. I had seen ikat made before, but it was a more comprehensive look at the process here.


Quarry for lava.

All the way up the road there were many trucks, carrying lava down to be used in building. At each small village would be a small roadblock of villagers taxing the trucks with a small fee (for ruining the road). Which they were. We passed up through Selat, a market town that features in the book, and beyond that we came to the quarry where the trucks were loading up with the lava. A little further on, we found a cliff overlooking the quarry where were able to stop and take photos.

We went further up, on and on. No trucks now. I wanted to visit the high villages where the people died and see what he terrain was like.  Even on the Bali Pathfinder map (produced in Bali) not all the villages were showing. Had they been wiped out? There were two villages, Badeg Tengah and Badeg Kelodan, that I wanted to see. The people of one of those villages had practised black magic, so I wondered if a driver would take us. In fact our driver had not been there before, and we left him blissfully unaware of the black magic.  So,up we went, through the Badegs. I hadn’t been able to find a village called Sorgres on the map. It was the village where the Mathews found their puppy. However on the way back down, our driver spotted a  ‘Selamat Datang” (welcome) sign for Sorgra. It still exists, but is not even ‘a pub and a petrol pump’.


Steps up to the temple.

We came to the end of the road at Pura Pasar Agung (Temple of Agung market). The temple was way out of sight beyond the top of many stairs. We didn’t go up. We took photos of the vista from the car park. We could see for miles, all the way to the coast, but we were so high that in the photographs the landscape is obscured by the atmosphere.


View from the restaurant at Rendang


Iseh. The house of the Mathews is near the parked cars on the left.

We turned around and went down on our way to Iseh, which was on a different road, below Selat. We took a side trip for lunch near a town called Rendang. A hideous buffet at a restaurant with a beautiful view. That is where I sketched. When I looked at my photos aftwerwards, I was amazed how much more clearly I could see the distant landscape at the time, rather than in the photograph. Lost in the atmospheric mist.


Looking across at Mt Agung from the road near the house at Iseh

After lunch we continueds to Iseh, where we located the house where the Mathews lived. There are black and white photos in the book, and we saw the same view across to the mountain which unfortunately was obscured by cloud.

Many of these places we visited are not on any map. Google is not good with Indonesia. You will find Sidemen, Selat, Iseh and probably Pura Pasar Agung at the end of the road, but the smaller villages don’t exist for most maps.

Thoughts from the day…. It was greener than I expected up near the end of the road. No lava flowing now or volcanic gases. The distances were phenomenal. It is steep and it is a long way. And it is HOT. Having both recently read the book we could appreciate the difficulty of walking the distances involved. We are both SO glad we went.


Filed under Bali, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils

Sketching with Urban Sketchers Bali (again)

kangen_fruitOut Sunday morning with the Urban Sketchers, Bali, who again had come up to Ubud to sketch with me. Thanks to Peny Setyowati who gets a group together to sketch with me very time I come to Bali. We first met two years ago at the Museum of Bali, and again in February at the Antonio Blanco Museum. Poor Broni was back at the hotel in bed, suffering from the after-effects of the three hours in the hot sun at the pelebon at Peliatan the previous day.

jalan_suwetaThis time we met at a new juice bar in Jalan Suweta, just around the corner from the Main Street in Ubud. (Oh I hate these American apps that keep capitalising Main Street.) Mango and papaya juice – yum.

The split gate I sketched was in the property next to the juice bar. I can’t help myself, sketching the Balinese architecture, but the Balinese Urban Sketchers usually sketch something else. Many of them are architects, and I guess they are used to it.  I thought it was a temple because of many shrines inside the property, but it was a private residence. Nice residence.

Then of course I had to sketch the fruit.  Afterwards we had a late lunch at Warung Ijo near the Ubud market.  Very inexpensive and delicious.  I really enjoy going out with the Urban Sketchers in Bali, and I think they are getting used to this foreigner turning up from time to time.

I walked back to the hotel. There is a quick way, down through the mabali_truckrket and behind the football field. At the back of the market, the road was full of Asian tourists ambling about (I always go to the upstairs market, because the sellers there do a starve by comparison.) Through came this truck, carrying Balinese ladies with offerings, forced to creep through the oblivious tourists.  Eat-pray-lovers, up in Ubud for the day, I expect.

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