Sunday, October 29

Sprangled Streets

A few days ago, kak Karin and I went to Ubud to attend day three of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2017. After paying the Indonesia student fee (God Bless in being an Indonesian student), we went around the area and found great photographic spots, Indonesian and international books on sale, stands of coffee, wine and other consumable goodies, stacks of books on a mini library, and of course… The attendants of the event, writers, readers and literature enthusiasts from around the globe. Ubud that day was 31 degrees Celsius, I was wearing denim shorts with a rather thick-fabric tshirt and sandals. I was melting in the bloody heat.

Our first talk was from three travel writers, because who wouldn’t want to be paid to travel and write? But what’s fun, is that they actually talked about the bad moments of traveling, of being nomadic. And what’s more interesting is how they shared their secrets when it comes to writing about traveling. Trinity shared about how as a writer, you need your own unique selling point. Writers like Haruki Murakami and Meg Cabot has their own selling point that only they can create out of their words. Cristian Rahadiansyah shared about taking writing into a new perspective, not just top tens but also exposing complications and creating solutions of a city. Joanna Savill explained how traveling is not about top tens. It is about the people, the culture, the food. The session also discussed unpublished works of each author, and my favourite would be Trinity’s. She talked about how her writings that included night life partying, drinking, skinny dips, communal baths and basically anything that has to do with the human body or is considered as a bad influence is taken out of her novel. Censorships is a very important thing to consider when writing a published (hard copy) writing, which roughly means, you’re not telling the whole story. This session was held at Neka Art Museum, which was a few hundred meters away from the main area.

Our second (and last, lol) talk came from three poets from Iran, Portugal and Mexico which was held at Indus Restaurant. It was the perfect place to attend a discussion because the place was breezy and had the greens as the restaurant’s back yard. Each of the poets shared history of poetry in their country, how poetry plays a role in politics and women empowerment, how poetry has evolve or disappear from their country, and of course a reading of their own poetry or a translation. It was a really interesting topic to learn about, mainly coming from me who isn’t actually a fan of poetry (except the CYN-THI-A Slam Poetry from 22 Jump Street, to be honest). I guess I’m not as much a fan of poetry as I am to novels, because I know how complicated poetry could be. Modern day poets like Rupi Kaur and Lang Leave, they use simple words and easy ‘for-instance’s. Meanwhile Shakespeare and Chairil Anwar are classic poets with words that has deeper meanings than the word itself. But of course, there is nothing wrong with learning new things. My favourite lines from the poetry session are: (1) Poetry creates more intimacy between ourselves; and a line from Attar’s translated poetry by Sholeh WolpĂ© (2) There is an invisible sun inside all of us.

We only watched two sessions because we got bored and missed the sessions we actually wanted to watch. To spend the time missed, we decided to go around Ubud. Our first stop was 9 Angels.

9 Angels is a self-serve, self-wash, self-pay vegetarian restaurant that has a few franchise in Ubud itself. The prices are very reasonable, with home-cooked quality food. What’s even more exciting about this place is their interior! Although the one that Karin and I visited was rather dusty and seemed untaken care of, it was still very dreamy. Greenery along the walls, bamboo doors, a broken piano, glass table, shoe pots, free books to read and many more. The area of the restaurant was quite big, as there were agendas such as capoeira and music night a few times a week. After our big plates of tempeh, tofu, green veggies, eggplant, pumpkin soup (which was really good!) and red rice, we went to find dessert.

Going through Karin’s friend’s instagram, we found Acai Queen which was located at Jl. Gootama No.13, not too far from 9 Angels. The place was small and wasn’t air conditioned. The seats were soft and the wifi was okay. Their food… was delicious! Freshly blended, freshly made bowl of acai, granola, cocoa nibs (i think), and other ingredients I cannot remember. The price of the food is similar to other smoothie/fruit bowls you find at Seminyak or Canggu. What’s cute is that every table is placed a full pineapple, with no particular reason. I suppose though, that pineapple is for Instagram purposes, to flatlay your food and making it look good. After cooling ourselves from the heat at midday, we went back to the UWRF to watch the second session.

Afterwards, getting bored but still wanting to immerse Ubud’s vibe, we decided to go to Cata Odata, an art exhibition venue. I found this place through Ubud Hood. The current exhibition is by Imam Sucahyo titled Jagat Mawut (Ravaged World). The paintings and drawings were really honest and rather creepy, but still likeable for my taste. The colours he used was beautiful, everything clashing but still fits together perfectly. The venue too, was out of this world! A small space in the middle of Ubud, with three floors in total (1 the workshop space, 2 the exhibition and office space, 3 the house / the library). Karin and I wandered around the venue, documenting it as much as we could… until we found the hammock floor! It was located at the second floor, nearby the office space. It looked so fun, I jumped right into the net. It was scary at first, but then I moved around like the kid I am. Books were also available to read in place, and as photography objects… I guess? Hahaha. A ladder towards up was in front of me, where at above await four dogs, one of them called Missy. The owner, Mbak Ratna was lovely and very nice to talk to, where we talked about Outsider Artists, as well as about achieving our dreams and how to actually start it. Without having to pay a rupiah, Karin and I get to wander around the building, view magnificent paintings, feel artsy in the workshop area, meet new people and lay our tired backs in a hammock. Without a doubt, Cata Odata really is a hidden gem in Ubud, and I am most likely to go back there again whenever I’m in town.

Getting dark, we decided to have dinner before heading back to the south. After brainstorming of what to eat, we decided to have pizza at Umah Pizza. It was located at a rather narrow street from Ubud’s main road at Jalan Bisma, with a space that was too long and narrow. Scanning down the menu, the place with the romantic-cozy vibe actually has very affordable food and drinks. Dimmed lights, face-to-face tables for two, and candle lights, what a great way to spend the night. We ordered two small pizzas, an extra dessert pizza, and some bruschetta for take away. Surprisingly, with a full stomach, it costed less than Rp200.000, and being local… We got discounts! I think it was really nice and fun for Umah Pizza to give discounts to locals in a location where there are many tourists. In short, whether I’m with my boyfriend, friend, cousin, mum, dad, grandparents, my self… I would definitely eat here again.

Going to Ubud was really fun and put my mind off a few things easily. What I’m really saying is that, I miss the feeling of traveling and exploring an area with a purpose of merely… to feel in content. Living in Bali for the past two years has been wonderful, but whenever I am supposed to go to a certain beach, or a certain area four hours away from home, I am bringing work. I am bringing school. Of course, traveling itself will teach us new cultures, new paradigms and even new bathrooms. But it is still very different from having a scientific purpose in mind.

Despite all the scientific thoughts and crazy researches I have to conduct individually or in groups, I am happy that I chose Bali as the place where I continue my studies. I am deeply surrounded by culture, widely surrounded by nationalities of people, easily surrounded by art and workshops, and of course infinitely surrounded by the ocean. 

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