Walking From Sayan To Ubud – For My Sisters

Every time I walk to Ubud from my Mum’s house in Sayan, I tell myself that I must share this beautiful walk with you all but then I go and talk myself out of it by thinking that there is no way I could possibly capture the beauty and serenity I always enjoy. However today, I took my camera out of my bag before I could talk myself out of it and being a beautiful cool morning (Yes, Sandy Warner – COOL!!!) , it was more fun than I thought it would be trying to photograph all the interesting things I pass which make a 45 minute walk feel more like 10 minutes!

I usually head out the back gate and down the ramp before getting onto the road that leads me in the direction of Ubud. It isn’t far till I arrive at the first section of road which I love. I head down a hill through cool, green and very shady vegetation which is largely bamboo, palms and ferns. This mossy temple is right at the bottom and backs onto either a river or cliff. The statue looks like a monkey but it is so mossy, I am not totally sure.

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Across the road, I can see the river heading off into the undergrowth.

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I continue up the hill where there is a village temple and bale banjar, a place where villagers meet for official banjar matters. A banjar is a small district within a town, sort of like a mini council within a council and is run by the Pak Klian (elected elder).

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Just passed the temple and bale, is the entrance to someone’s house or garden. I love the ornate doorway and mossy steps leading up to it.

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A few steps further on is the local primary school; Sekolah Dasar Sayan No. 5. It is Sunday today, the one day in the week that students don’t go to school, so the school is very quiet today. On Friday when I walked passed, there were several parents outside on motorbikes waiting to collect their children from school. Last week was the first week of the 2013/2014 school year in Indonesia so those parents were probably collecting their son/daughter who had just started school!

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I then turn a corner and enter into the next village: Penestanan which is famous now thanks to ‘Eat, Pray Love’. It has always been well known for the number of artists who live there and now even more so.

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A little further down the road, a group of school students, wearing a sarong with their school shirt and selandang (the waist sash that must be worn if participating in a Hindu ceremony) were heading home carrying certificates. They were gracious enough to allow me to photograph them. I followed them down the road where they peeled off gradually as each reached where they were heading until there were only 3 left. This small group of girls as one all walked up a ramp leading to one of the many family homes along the road.

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My next point of interest was a play station shop where usually just young boys pay to play play station. As is custom here, the boys take off their shoes before going inside, especially since the floor is carpeted.

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I next passed a coffee shop mainly frequented by young European tourists where parked out the front is a vespa motorbike. These used to be so common in Bali but I haven’t seen one in such good condition for a long time so I couldn’t just walk on by! This one looks like it has been lovingly restored.

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I continued down the road to where on both sides of the road are steps. One side of the road the steps lead obviously up to a building with signage to attract tourists whereas on the other side of the road are steps leading up to a private house. Pretty easy to tell which is which!

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My next photo is something which is a true reminder of how rubbish used to be removed before the use of plastic and other modern day packaging. This is actually a river bed which flows after a good rain. In the olden days when all rubbish was organic, rubbish from each house would be taken down to the river where it was thrown onto the river bank. After a good downpour, the stream or river would swell and carry all the rubbish away either all the way to the sea or just further along where it would decompose, returning to the environment. Today the process of taking rubbish to a nearby river bank (selotan) still happens in most areas. However because rubbish today contains such a lot of non organic material, the result is very unpleasant. The rubbish in this selotan is largely typical except for the tin roofing offcuts. What were they thinking!

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Just past the selotan are a line of shops including the online gaming one with the push bikes out the front and then next to it is a warung that was selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

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The next interesting stop is the pos kambling. This is a central spot in a banjar where people can sit and watch the comings and goings of a banjar just like neighbourhood watch. Can you see the ladder going up to the top level and someone sitting up there? On the top level is the ‘kul kul’ and this pos kambling looks as though it has 2! Usually there is just the one kul kul. The ‘kul kul’ is a huge lump of wood hanging which is banged repeatedly to call the men of the banjar to the pos kambling. They can be called for a meeting or they can be called if there is an emergency.

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The pos kambling is on a corner and across the road from it is this street sign. It is new and highly visible with it’s green and white oolouring! I had no idea if you went straight ahead, the road took you to Denpasar!

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Along the road are many tiny garages which are just large enough to fit a car although how the driver gets out after parking it, I have no idea. Hanging in this garage was an enormous kite! This style of kite is often seen in the skies at the moment!

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This next interesting point I pass is the entrance to someone’s home and garden. Can you see a familiar sign above the doorway? When westerners see it they think that it is a swastika however if you look carefully you will see that it is not. The nazi’s ‘stole’ this symbol from HInduism and then reversed it! It is such a crime that we now associate this beautiful symbol with nazism.

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I then followed the road down into another cool, dark valley where the road once again is totally covered with vegetation.

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Then as I head up the hill I walk beneath hundreds of banyan tree roots hanging and swaying in the breeze.

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Once I emerge from this cool tunnel of vegetation, it becomes obvious that I am closer to Ubud. On either side of the road now are hotels, shops and tour operators. There is also a place where people are painting silk.

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Across the road is a restaurant called the round bar cafe. Everything about this place is round. The outside tables are round, as are the chairs. The chairs look like unicycles and I often wonder as I pass whether the pedals actually work which would mean you could pedal aimlessly while enjoying a square meal!

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In and around Ubud now, signs offering land for rent are becoming more and more common. The beauty of renting out land is that it is only for a finite period of time and once the contract is finished, whatever was built on that land remains the property of the landlord. So if rented out again, the property could potentially be even more valuable! Land in Indonesia is measured in ‘are’ (pronounced ‘are-oh’) and 1 are = 100 square feet (source – google).

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Just before the final descent into Ubud, is a wall; the boundary of the Antonio Blanco museum. Along the wall is some fantastic street art.

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20130722-133838.jpgAs well as traditional images, there are also modern day ones showing tourists being harassed by monkeys! Much nicer than the graffiti that was on the wall originally!

Then finally comes the very last section of my walk to Ubud; the very steep decline towards Jalan Raya Ubud. This is the steepest part of the road and right at the bottom, the road I have been following ends in a T junction, and becomes an incredibly tight corner. Walkers have to be very careful at this point because cars and buses often take up the entire road while navigating the tight angle.

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There! Now you can understand why such a long walk is such a pleasure. I have been walking to Ubud from Sayan for many years now and it is never boring!

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