Search for  XF18-55  found 13 posts
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Mar 23, 2017, Thursday
Mugged again!    XF18-55 Ubud  
Mar 23, 2017, Thursday
Mar 25, 2017, Saturday
Moving Day    Ubud, XF18-55 10.5  
Mar 25, 2017, Saturday
Mar 26, 2017, Sunday
Ogoh-Ogoh    XF16, XF18-55 Ubud  
Mar 26, 2017, Sunday
Mar 27, 2017, Monday
Ogoh-Ogoh Parade    XF16, XF18-55 Ubud  
Mar 27, 2017, Monday
Mar 30, 2017, Thursday
Mar 30, 2017, Thursday
Mar 31, 2017, Friday
A Morning Offering    XF18-55 Ubud  
Mar 31, 2017, Friday
Apr 1, 2017, Saturday
What's in a Name?    XF18-55 Ubud  
Apr 1, 2017, Saturday
Apr 9, 2017, Sunday
Balinese Scooters    XF18-55 Ubud  
Apr 9, 2017, Sunday
Apr 10, 2017, Monday
Photogenic    XF18-55 Ubud  
Apr 10, 2017, Monday
Apr 11, 2017, Tuesday
Around Ubud    XF18-55 Ubud  
Apr 11, 2017, Tuesday
Apr 13, 2017, Thursday
In Uniform    XF18-55 XF27, Ubud  
Apr 13, 2017, Thursday
Jul 25, 2018, Wednesday
Jul 25, 2018, Wednesday
Oct 21, 2018, Sunday
Oct 21, 2018, Sunday

Mugged again!

March 23, 2017   XF18-55, Ubud
You know, when I started they weren't bad for you. Annette Bening on smoking, from the movie 20th Century Women

It's warm and humid but then that's expected in Bali. My friend Emily and I walked into town where I got money from an atm ($1 CAD gets you about 10,000 IDR), checked out a rental property (for Emily and Bill, not me), stopped for refreshments, bought groceries, got mugged by a monkey, then walked home where we cooled off in the pool while a rainstorm passed overhead. As to the monkey, he is of average build, grey in colour, and was last seen heading towards the Monkey Forest while eating my mango.

Starbucks is on the main street in town and is a useful landmark. My friends live just down the street from this intersection.
An intricate temple door      
Emily enjoying a refreshment      
Enjoying a Bintang      
They aren't kidding

Moving Day

March 25, 2017   Ubud, XF18-55, 10.5
Why is it that if you buy a camera you are a photographer whereas if you buy a violin you own a violin. Anonymous

While my friends Bill and Emily have been exemplary hosts I thought it best to move on, that whole fish and guests and how both stink after a few days.

So this morning I packed up, walked 15 minutes south on Jalan Kjeng to Starbucks, turned left on the main drag Jalan Raya Ubud, walked three blocks, then walked north about 15 minutes to a house on Jalan Sri Wedari.

My new lodging is a spacious 2 bedroom 2 bath house with a big kitchen, a large outdoor bathroom, a patio and deck, and a shared pool. More room than I need: I've room for guests should anyone want to jump a plane. Just be aware the whole island of Bali will be closed - and I mean literally closed, streets, sidewalks, airport, everything - this coming Tuesday. More on that later.

The house, or villa as they say in Bali, is in a complex of houses with a shared staff that takes care of housekeeping, gardening, security, and whatever else needs doing. Like breakfast: each morning someone will come cook me breakfast, then clean up. Nice, eh? I'm thinking labor is cheap. This multi-house, shared-staff model is common here.

Unfortunately, between moving and shopping for groceries at the Coco mart and accompanying Emily on another property inspection, between all this I didn't take any interesting photos so instead I've some uninteresting ones of where I'm staying.

I'm listening to Pangkur from Gamelan music of the Jasmine isle. And I'm reading A House in Bali, the Canadian composer Colin McPhee's story of his life and the music of Bali in the 30's. McPhee's pre-tourism Bali is quite different from present-day Bali, but the culture he describes is still here, and you still hear the distinctive trance-like Gamelan music.

Master bath      
Master bedroom      
Second bedroom and bath      
Dining and kitchen      
I rented a 2 bedroom 2 bath house which turned out to be charming and comfortable. A little more space than I need but I like the peace and privacy.
Path to house      

There are two roads that pass near my house. One is wide enough for a couple of cars but the second, the one in this photo, is foot and scooter only. My house is hidden behind the trees on the right. This rice paddy has a few really loud bull frogs.


March 26, 2017   XF16, XF18-55, Ubud
Asking Republicans to govern is like asking Barney Frank to judge the Miss America contest; if your heart is not in it, you don't do a very good job. Maureen Dowd

Speaking of doing a good job, it's the day before the Ngrupuk parade and the Balinese people are preparing for tomorrow's festivities by fine-tuning their ogoh-ogohs and practicing their movements. They are also dancing to Gamelan music.

Ogoh-ogohs are demonic statues made of vividly-painted bamboo and styrofoam. They symbolize malevolent spirits. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village the Ngrupuk ritual takes place, which involves burning the ogoh-ogoh.

Dancers, Ubud Palace      
Gamelan music accompanies the dancing      
Dancers, Ubud Palace      
Dancers, Ubud Palace      
Ogoh-ogoh rotation practice      

During tomorrow's procession through town each Ogoh-ogohs must rotate counter-clockwise three times at every T-junction and crossroad. Rotating the Ogoh-ogoh represents the contact of the bodies with the evil spirits. It is meant to bewilder these evil spirits so they go away and stop harming humans.

The photos don't do justice to the scene, everyone is happy and laughing and clearly having a good time. Did I mention how friendly the Balinese are? Don't know what they are smoking, or maybe it's in the water, but almost everyone is friendly and welcoming. And most speak English, which makes getting around easy.


Ogoh-Ogoh Parade

March 27, 2017   XF16, XF18-55, Ubud

Today was one of the weirdest, funniest events l've experienced: the Nyepi day eve parade in Bali.

On this day each neighborhood council, which is called a banjar, parades its newly-made ogoh-ogoh monster around town in a ritual said to drive away evil spirits. At the end of the parade the ogoh-ogoh is destroyed by fire.

The parade of ogoh-ogohs is accompanied by a hypnotic soundtrack of Gamelan orchestras. They play unique instruments such as metal drums hit by hammers.

I've seen plenty of parades so this sounds straightforward, think floats and musicians marching down the street with an audience held at a distance by barricades and officials.

Ha. This is not that kind of parade. It's barely-controlled chaos where anyone can be in the parade and the monsters are coming from different directions, with the Gamelin adding a wonderfully pulsy trance background. Everyone, tourists and locals, some in native attire, everyone is laughing and having a great time.

The taller monsters find maneuvering a challenge in Ubud's narrow streets. The colourful demon sits high on a large bamboo lattice carried by a team of young Balinese. Clearly the builders compete for biggest and most outrageous with little thought to clearing the power lines. So some ogoh-ogoh are accompanied by fellows with very long poles that they use to manipulate the web of overhead power lines. Yeah, power lines. Some monsters get caught in the lines so it can take a while to maneuver. (I'm told power outages are common). Once they get through a tangle of wires the crowd bursts into cheers to congratulate them.

The monsters are also tasked to rotate three times at each intersection, and this isn't a simple rotation, the large and heavy monsters swerve like an amusement car ride as they turn. At one point I got caught in a packed crowd and thought I was going to get crushed in the mass of people fleeing the swing of the monster. Ok, that was weird.

After the parade the monsters gather in a field where speeches are made. It grows dark. Finally, joined by torch-bearing girls, the ogoh-ogohs resume their parade, but this time they are destined for their demise.

And with that we all get to rest for a day since tomorrow is Nyepi, the day of silence.

With that in mind, here are a few photos from what was a very photogenic day.

Ogoh-ogoh on Jalan Sri Wedari      
This is my street, Jalan Sri Wedari, and not far from my house. This ogoh-ogoh didn't get very far before it encountered a wayward parked car. It took a tree chopping and some heavy lifting but they eventually got through. They also set off the car's alarm which only added to the cacophony.
Bamboo lattice holds monster      
A lot of fellows are needed to support an oogah oogah      
Gamelan provides the soundtrack      
Almost to the main drag      
The ogoh-ogoh is rotated counter-clockwise three times at every T-junction and crossroad. Rotating represents the contact of the bodies with the spirits and is said to bewilder and dispell evil spirits.
Great music      
Gamelan is the traditional ensemble music of Java and Bali. It's mostly percussive instruments, the most common being metallophones played by mallets and a set of hand-played drums called kendhang which register the beat.
Lots of colourful characters      
The main intersection in Ubud      
I like the streamers      
Reminds me of Homer Simpson      
Lifting the power lines      
Many ogoh-ogohs are too tall to pass under the power lines, so instead of making them shorter (that would be my solution) they lift the power lines up with tall poles. It's harder than it looks, and it can take a long time to maneuver. Plus, the ogoh-ogoh is going to come back down this street on its way out so the process is repeated. No one is in a rush, though, so it clearly doesn't matter.
Gamelan orchestra      
A small ogoh-ogoh      
Smaller ogoh-ogoh are built by groups of children or local artists.
Didn't see many officials      
Nightfall is coming      
I like the light      
Where's the parade?      
I found the parade route confusing and l don't think i'm the only one. A 30-year local described the route but it didn't go the way she described. She also said they change the rules periodically. For example this year they forbid styrofoam in the ogoh-ogohs because of the fumes given off when burned. (Duh!)
Gamelan orchestra      
Hypnotic musicians      
Gamelan musicians      
Monkey boy      
Great faces      
More great faces and colours      
The gathering in a field      
Their costumes are so colourful      
Torch bearers      
Young torch bearers      
Ogoh-ogoh lit up      
Last for the night!      
If you got this far congratulations, hope you enjoyed it. I wish i could accompany the photos with the music as I found it absolutely wonderful.

The Gods Must Be Satisfied

March 30, 2017   XF18-55, Ubud
Each day she placed a little portion of the food she cooked on a shelf above her pots and pans for Batara Uma, and dropped blossoms and betel leaves beside the little pool in the rocks down near the river (from which we got our drinking water) for the spirit of the spring. Colin McPhee in A House in Bali

One of the first things I noticed in Bali are the ubiquitous little pallets of offerings that take many different forms. They may contain leaves, flowers, fruit, incense, even candy bars.

Before most tourists get up each morning the Balinese sweep away the prior day's offerings from around their homes and businesses. Then throughout the day they create more offerings which are everywhere, both underfoot and perched here and there in little shrines. You can walk on them, it's often impossible not to, and I take it that it's the presentation of the offering that matters.

This daily gift of offerings is meant to appease and please the many gods and demons of Balinese Hinduism.

Offerings range from a small and fragrant flower on each step leading into a compound to more elaborate ones to guard the houses doorway and appease the gods represented by statues throughout the house.

The Balinese spend parts of each day creating and dispersing these offerings around their compounds, often accompanied by burning incense. It's all quite lovely. And it's all quite labor intensive.

The offerings in the following photos are all pretty substantial, but I think that's because I was walking on residential streets. In the more commercial areas the offerings are, if anything, more numerous, but they are also simpler.

A big offering      
Offering on the path to my house      
An offering is placed at the start of a small path. The tall shrine on the left is sitting in what looks like an empty lot. It could be for the plants being cultivated on that lot or it could be for some planned construction on this site.
Galungan poles      
Walking down the street this morning, looking at offerings, I couldn't help notice these long poles. They'll be in next week's Galungan festival which, lucky for me, is almost back-to-back with Nyepi this year.
An offering      
An offering      
Galungan poles      
An offering      
Presenting an offering involves more than just placement, it's a ceremony.
Everyone enjoys the offerings      
Might have better teeth if he laid off the sweets.
Monkey enjoying offering

A Morning Offering

March 31, 2017   XF18-55, Ubud

Unlike Vancouver Island, here in Bali the doors and windows are always open, to get a breeze and to listen to the unusual birds, the bullfrogs, and the insects.

One insect buzzes and buzzes and buzzes, steadily for ten, fifteen minutes. For awhile I thought an electrical transformer was malfunctioning, like the one outside our place in Naxos, but I later decided the noise was an insect. I asked Made Girl, one of the housekeepers, for the insect's name but I don't think she hears it as she couldn't answer.

Every morning Made Girl comes to my open double doorway and says "Hello?" before she comes in. She carries a tray with the makings for breakfast. She slips off her flip flops and comes into the kitchen. If there are dirty dishes she will wash them but there never are. At most there are a few on the drying rack to put away.

This morning, like most, Made Girl made me scrambled eggs, toast, sliced fruit, and French press coffee. There is ginger lime marmelade for the toast.

After serving me she asks if I need anything and she asks about tomorrow's breakfast. Most mornings she is talkative, today she is quiet, subdued. I wonder what has changed. She leaves. She'll return in an hour or so, to put away the breakfast dishes that I will have already washed, sweep the whole house, make the bed which I have not made as I find their method too complex, check towels and the drinking water supply.

Spanning this time just outside my open doorway an older woman is presenting offerings. Her ceremony seems to be more drawn out today, perhaps today is special. There are many special days in Bali. She started before breakfast and contines long after breakfast, taking maybe 45 minutes or an hour.

The woman making the offerings carries a large wooden tray piled high with little hand-weaved trays, flowers, leaves, and incense. She sets it on a ledge of the stone shrine.

Slowly, methodically she lifts items from her tray and assembles each offering. She carefully places each offering most of which smoke from incense. She pauses, spending time with each. If she is saying something I don't know, I cannot hear and I don't of course interrupt.

She walks down the hill towards the creek, and later i find another lower down on the path.

I keep thinking she is done, but she revists each offering, adjusting them, pausing, and adjusting them again. She walks towards the water again then returns. She walks up to my doorway, not far from where I am sitting and eating and places a small weaved tray with orange and red flowers and burning incense on my doorsill. Smoke from the incense surrounds her as a shaft of sunlight breaks through, her head enveloped in an ethereal glow for a brief moment. A smoky whiff of incense enters the house.

Finally she returns to the shrine, picks up her tray, and walks away.

Later I look for the offerings, to examine them. I find eight, there are probably more. They blend in with the lush greenery, the bright flowers, the orchids that are growing and flowering on the trees. I find them on my doorstep, on the path by my door, at the base of the shrine, on the shrine, in a branch of a tree, ... Many offerings, many gods to honour.

After breakfast I walk into town to head over to the nearby Ridge Trail. I complete the hike and return home by mid afternoon, just in time for a heavy rainstorm to pass through, which cools things off considerably.

Made Girl bringing breakfast      
Making offerings      
Making offerings      
Making offerings      
Something completely different      
I'm heading to the Ridge Trail, passing through the hustle-bustle of Ubud's main drag.
Bali is lush with green      
I've no idea what this is      
Rice paddy with shrine      
Path and rice paddy      
This meal cost 45,000!      

While hiking the ridge trail I stopped for lunch. Cost was 45,000 which is a little over $4.50 Canadian. All those zeroes take getting used to especially as the currency doesn't group them so you get bills marked 10000 ($1), 100000 ($10), and so on. It would be clearer with the addition of some commas or periods, like 100,000.

I don't usually do food shots, I put them in the same annoying category as selfies (why would I think you want to see my ugly face?), but what the hell. I stopped for lunch at a charming cafe by a rice paddy where the food was very flavorful.

Ridge Trail      
It's an easy hike and the trail is in fine shape but the heat and humidity make every step a little harder.

What's in a Name?

April 1, 2017   XF18-55, Ubud
In the family there were also four levels. Children had their titles: Wayan, eldest born, Nyoman, Made and Ketut, the fourth.

What happens with a fifth child? I asked Nyoman Kaler.

You begin again, he answered. Colin McPhee, A House in Bali.

I thought it a coincidence that my first contacts in Bali were all named Wayan. But it wasn't a coincidence. Wayan is the most common name in Bali because a child is named according to birth order and Wayan is the name for the first child.

There are alternative names for the first born, such as my airport driver's name Gede, Putu and the girl's-only name Ni Luh, but Wayan is most popular. So when you meet someone from Bali chances are their name is Wayan.

The second child is usually called Made, but Nengah, Ngurah and Kadek also work.

The third-born child is called Nyoman or Komang and the fourth born is Ketut.

After four children, which is a lot for a Balinese family, the names re-start with Wayan, though the fifth child might be called Wayan Balik (Wayan "again"), and so on. Oh yeah, there are no family names in Bali. And pronunciation is easy, names are pronounced just as they are spelled, like Italian.

Speaking of birth order, it is widely believed to have an impact on psychological development. I'm not implying the Balinese subscribe to this idea, more likely naming by birth order serves as a guide to inheritance issues. Or maybe it's just one less decision to make. But it's a curious and oh-so-human example of seeing significance in something that isn't. We believe it because we want it to be true. Birth order theory has been widely studied but no effect has ever been shown. Nevertheless the belief remains, what some call a zombie theory. (See also astrology, religion, etc.)

Today was the first day the heat got to me. Oppressively hot and sticky. I walked into town, I window shopped, I politely turned down the endless entreaties one gets for a scooter-taxi ride - these are mild, almost lethargic entreaties, not the in-your-face Turkish come-ons - I ate lunch, then I returned to my house and, unusual for me, I took a nap.

Nasi goreng breakfast (for Paul)      
On a scooter

Balinese Scooters

April 9, 2017   XF18-55, Ubud
Scooter driver in yellow      

The scooter drivers in Bali annoyed me less than than those in say Palermo or Florence even though they are as insidious. They are parked on every sidewalk. They dart through traffic. They speed down paths. And they are usually loaded with two or three passengers, or boxes of stuff, or chickens, definitely small children, and offerings of course. You can't have too many offerings.

Balinese drivers, car and scooter, make their presence known by beeping an I'm-entering-the-intersection warning at every corner. Beep beep beep.

But I quickly grew used to them. I was even impressed by their politeness. Often the driver would say sorry or thank you as they passed me and I stepped out of the way. The only scooters that scared me were those driven by tourists.

Scooters double as income generators. It seems like every fellow in town is available to drive you somewhere which translates to a large scooter : tourist ratio. I also saw what I interpreted to be pro- and con-Uber signs but then maybe I misunderstood them.

All day long you see lines of young men sitting along the street looking at their phones, using the free WiFi from the neighboring cafe (while their wife / mom / gfriend is at work?). As you pass they hold up a taxi sign or ask "Sir? Taxi?" in a lackadaisical manner. But it isn't offered with much pressure, the Balinese are polite even when they are encouraging you to buy something. This is all very unlike the Turks who transition from aggressive welcome to threatening insult in the seconds spent walking by their business.


April 10, 2017   XF18-55, Ubud
Ogoh-ogoh team      
Since Cartier-Bresson's hand wasn't as steady as it used to be, some of the pictures were a bit fuzzy. Sharpness is a bourgeois concept, he said. Helmut Newton in Newsweek

This serves as a lesson to me, pay more attention to shutter speed. I like this photo of a resting ogoh ogoh team despite the fact that its subject, the brightly-dressed young woman on the right, is not in focus. Just like with bird photos, it is better to either freeze motion with a high shutter speed or emphasize movement with a slow speed.

This was shot at 1/160 sec and ISO 200. So I'd say a better value for the auto ISO min shutter speed would be 1/500 or maybe 1/1000. Of course this adds noise, the higher the ISO the higher the noise. But I don't care so much about noise. Noise adds character. And if it's really noisy I try it in b&w.

Around Ubud

April 11, 2017   XF18-55, Ubud

Here are a few photos taken while walking around Ubud.

Starbucks is the only American food franchise that I saw, and there is only one in Ubud. It's good to know Starbucks not because you need go there for coffee - there are plenty of local offerings - but because it's a useful landmark. It's near the center of town at the corner of Jl Raya Ubud and Jl Kajeng. It is also just down the street from my friends Bill and Emily.
Shopping in Ubud      
There are no shortage of ways to spend money in Ubud. Lots of clothing, jewelry, shoes, souvenirs, spas, tours, cafes, and lots of yoga. Useful shops, hardware stores and big grocers for example, take a little more of an effort to find.
A cafe in Ubud      
Cafes in Ubud are attractive and service and food very good. And free Wifi is ubiquitous.
Rice paddy and villas      
Ten minutes walk from Starbucks and you can be staring at a pretty rice paddy, as in the photo. Along with the rice plants there may be a cow, and there are likely lots of quacking ducks. You'll also see farmers doing the work necessary to cultivate the rice. Unfortunately the paddies are being encroached by development, as shown by the row of villas bordering the paddy.

In Uniform

April 13, 2017   XF18-55, XF27, Ubud
Going home      
Helmets are for tourists      
All aboard      

I've not seen many uniformed school kids in North America but it's a common sight elsewhere. Like these kids in Ubud who are heading home, either walking or catching a ride.

Beecher Bay

July 25, 2018   Panorama, Juan de Fuca St, Vancouver Isl, XF18-55
Beecher Bay  

Calçada da Glória funicular

October 21, 2018   Lisbon, XF18-55
Calçada da Glória funicular      

I like this graffittied Lisbon cable car. The way it maintains a vertical profile despite the slope. The way it slots into the spaces between buildings, all of which share a similar sharp, vertical profile. I even like the graffitti; so much I drained all the other colors away.