Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bali Damp and Humidity

     You could call Bali "the emerald isle", and it's overwhelmingly green for the same reason that Ireland is.
     We were there in the rainy season but had no idea of just how forceful these tropical downpours could be until the morning after we arrived.

     Those big silvery blobs are big blobby raindrops. Within days we invested in blue plastic ponchos with hoods. Not glamorous but they covered us from the tops of our heads to mid-calf. Plastic flip-flops--those trendy Havaianas that cost around $30 in North America and $5 in Asia--took care of our feet. .

Constant damp means vividly green moss and ferns grow everywhere.

  We experienced spectacular thunderstorms. The best one began while we were finishing supper in a little roadside warung in Ubud. The humidity had built to uncomfortable levels over the past couple of days and, apart from small showers at night, we hadn't seen any rain. This was amazing--and amazingly beautiful. We stood at the edge of the warung watching for close to half an hour.
   Lightning lit up the sky right across our vision, a lavender-bright light that revealed dark shapes of family temples and palm trees, as inky-black as shadow puppets. Car headlights showed the force of the rain, like thousands of pewter strings. Rain rushed down the street, filling the gutters level with the sidewalks.
   But all this sopping wet air does have its positive side. Constant moisture and heat combined act like a steam iron on clothes. Creases immediately dropped out of linen. We looked elegant, if sweaty
    The climate also encourages things to grow at ferocious speed. One morning, I walked down the little laneway from our homestay to find that overnight these tiny mushrooms had sprouted all over the wall.

     A "homestay" by the way is what, in the rest of Asia, you'd call a guesthouse. Balinese families traditionally live communally in a walled compound, grandparents, brothers, sisters, kids, family temples, dogs, chickens all together. The owner and his wife lived on the premises of our homestay in Ubud; their family compound was a few steps down the road.
     We rented two rooms, each with a large terrace, which is where we were served breakfast each day.
   And every day it was the same, with variations: a bowl of at least three kinds of fruit--pineapple, melon, banana, rambutan, and others whose names I didn't know. Alongside were eggs either scrambled, fried, made into omelettes, boiled in the shell, or boiled, unshelled and sandwiched between the toast that also showed up each morning. The sambal, that mix of runner beans, tomato and cucumber was lightly spiced.
     Next....a food post.

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