Unlike your typical tour guide, Agung Rai didn't feel the need to fill every moment with commentary. In fact, other than the basic introductions, he didn't say too much at all until we'd left Ubud proper and made it out into the rice paddy and jungle countryside. Then he pulled the well used Toyota SUV off to the side of the road and shut off the engine. We were in the middle of no particular place and he got out of the driver's side and beckoned us to do the same. After we'd walked a little ways from the truck, he said, "Listen to the water." The best advice I'd got in Bali since, "Try the curry."
Don't spend all your time on the main streets of Ubud, although they're kind of fun if you like to shop and be asked if you want a taxi every two minutes. Here's a list of what to do in Ubud, Bali.
There's an older man who comes by our villa with his wife a few times a week to do a little gardening while his wife makes smoky offerings to the gods. He's an unfailingly cheerful sort who always has a bit to say, but doesn't hang around enough to become burdensome. Until today, he'd always spoken to us in his rather halting English. But today we discovered by accident that we both spoke Spanish, and the conversation got a lot more interesting. He was the one who told us last week about Tuesday's cremation ceremony and invited us to attend. And when he came back today, he asked if we'd been there and if we had any questions. Let me describe the ceremony first, so we know what we're talking about when I get to the questions.
Rice temple ceremony, blessing the water (December 2011, Ubud, Bali) For over a thousand years, the cycle of rice growing in Bali has been managed through water temples, organized by watershed districts. The [...]