This is my contribution to the A to Z Blogging Challenge, in which I'm focusing on overseas destinations I've visited. Five to go!!
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia (August 1989)
Ubud, Bali." I'm sure I've glorified it in my imagination from what it was actually like, but it is unforgettable.
Ubud is in the middle of the island of Bali, an artist conclave regarded as Bali's cultural center. Actually a conglomeration of several interconnected villages, Ubud goes back to the eighth century, when a Javanese Hindu priest named Rsi Marhandya came from Java established a shrine there. The name Ubud originated from the ancient Balinese, Ubad, which means medicine.
|Monkey Forest Road in 1989|
|Monkey Forest Road now|
|View from our table at the Lotus Cafe--gorgeous dining!!|
Here's where the idealism comes in: That first evening I felt really ill, convinced it was caused by the smelly mosquito coils we were forced to burn in our room to keep the mosquitos away. We were kept awake by mosquitos buzzing and hovering, flying in through holes in the window screens. Dogs were howling and cocks were crowing...that's what happens when you stay in cheap guesthouses! Ubud is also very remote--when we tried to call Air India, the telephone office told us that they didn't have a Jakarta phone book, and the only way to get hold of the phone number was to call Denpasar, who would then call Jakarata, who would find the number. This would take about 2 hours, if we would "like to wait." We declined and returned the next day.
|Beautiful bamboo street decorations in an Ubud village|
|On one of our long walks|
|Right before it started pouring!|
|Ubud musical weather vane--these sounded wonderful!|
|Heron in Petalu Gunang|
In Petulu Gunang, which was more bustling and busy than the other village we walked through, we saw bare-breasted women walking about and many people bathing or fetching water. Beautiful white herons were flying in to palm trees to roost, because the village is a heron sanctuary.
One man asked if we'd like to take a look at his house--he was a woodcarver and the head of the village, I. Nyoman Kelincet, and also a dancer in the performance that night. (Right there in his studio he danced for us in his sarong! Mike bought a beautiful wood carving of a mother and two children, the one I liked the best. I couldn't help but wonder where it would end up...because with six weeks to go before our separation--him back to England and me to Oregon--we still hadn't discussed our future together.
After we bought the carving, Nyoman invited us for coffee, which we drank while sitting on an open deck amidst squawking chickens, grinning, children, and staring topless grannies. From our seats we could see the herons above in the trees. Nyoman chattered on about how he wanted to go to England to carve.
|My favorite photo from Indonesia, which hangs on our living room wall|
(These were the children at the dance performance in the village)
|Women carrying offerings on their heads|
|My handsome boyfriend in Ubud|
Udaipur, India (September 1989)
We arrived in Udaipur after an overnight train from Jaipur. We took a rickshaw and then a boat to the Lake Palace Hotel, where we didn't have reservations but thank goodness, they had a room available.
|Lake Palace Hotel|
"Glowing moonlight. Gentle lakeside breezes. A whole entourage (of) courtesans. What young prince could resist? Certainly not Maharana Jagat Singh II. Legend has it that the young prince indulged in moonlight picnics with the ladies of the Zenana on the lake island palace of Jag Mandir. A pleasurable pastime - until his father found out. With that option closed to him, there was only one solution. He built his own pleasure palace on a different island in Lake Pichola. Begun in 1743 and inaugurated in 1746, the new palace was named Jag Niwas after his highness Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar.What better place for a proposal? We had planned to stay in the Lake Palace for two nights, but Mike surprised me by adding on a third night. While we waited for our room to be ready, two women in extravagant saris put fresh flower leis over our heads. Our room was not huge but had a beautiful view of the lake and the city palace on the shore.
Jag Niwas, now Taj Lake Palace, is one of four lovely islands in Lake Pichola. And each island has a story to tell. Mohan Mandir is the place from where the king would watch the annual Gangaur festival celebration. Arsivilas used to be an ammunition depot and later was used as a helipad by the royal family. And of course, Jag Mandir is the location for the original pleasure palace of Maharana Jagat Singh I.
The Royal Dynasty of Mewar had palaces to spare. In addition to Taj Lake Place there was the City Palace, which used to be the official residential palace during winters, the hill top Monsoon Palace also known as Sajjan Garh, and the aforementioned Jag Mandir.
What may have begun as a prince’s rebellious gesture was turned into one of the most romantic hotels in the world by Maharana Bhagwat Singhji in 1963. Then in 1971, with its legacy of hospitality, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was the perfect choice to carry on the royal tradition of the luxurious Lake Palace, Udaipur. The palace’s decadent reputation was cemented when the James Bond film 'Octopussy' was filmed on the premises. Taj Lake Palace was the secluded lair of the film’s eponymous Bond girl."
|View from our room|
|From the Jag Mandir|
|City Palace (from boat tour)|
|View from top of Jag Mandir|
|Mike on top of Jag Mandir|
|Lake Palace at sunset|
On our final full day in Udaipur, we booked our seats to Jodhpur and stopped by to tour the city palace (after getting cheated by a rickshaw driver), with its gorgeous views of the water and collection of paintings, some very gory.
|Inside the City Palace|
That evening we went up on the roof for sunset. Now the hotel has a rooftop restaurant, but back in 1989, there was nothing on the roof. Our romantic scene kept getting interrupted by other people who had also discovered our rooftop haven. One Australian woman even interrupted our snogging to ask where the swimming pool was! We stayed up there until the sun went down, clinging to each other with the realization that we had less than two weeks left together. Every time I thought about that I had to hold back the tears. This is what I wrote in my journal:
"Then, Mike asked me to marry him! I was very surprised and couldn't quite believe it (I still can't!) and of course I said yes. I've known for awhile now that Mike is the only man I ever want to share my life with. We were both feeling a bit spacey with elation and kissed and clung until we went downstairs--me still in a state of happy disbelief. Not that it was totally unexpected, but it just makes me so happy that it seems like a dream."
|View from the roof|
|Indian painting hung in our newlywed apartment, around 1990-91|
(with my sister and her now-husband)
|Happy and engaged to be married! (on the dock of the hotel)|
After reading back over my journal yesterday, last night I watched my now-50-year-old husband do our six-year-old's bidding. Nicholas was Indiana Jones, and Mike was "Mutt." He's such an amazing husband and dad, able to connect on such a pure level with children. He does this way better than I do. I'm the cuddly mom, the one who has heart-to-heart conversations with the kids, and Mike is the fun parent...the one who acts in their plays (while I watch) and makes silly jokes. And he's still a romantic at heart! Our relationship has matured since 1989, like a fine wine. I knew then I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, and now I'm only more certain. I can't imagine my life without him. I'm so lucky!
|Mike in his kurta (City Palace in the background)|
Visit here to read my A-T posts. Tomorrow, back to Canada for V!