Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Selamat Pagi!

Good Morning. It is 7:30 in the morning on Monday 16 July and I hope that this will become a habit. If I can type for an hour at this time before we start shooting, I will be able to share thoughts while they are still fresh.

Early morning is, I think, a special time at the Agung Raka Bungalows in Bali. The air is clear, usually still, always humid, and generally all you hear is the running water from the rice paddies as they are irrigated. The Agung Raka is a group of “bungalows” that sit amongst working rice fields. I am in a bungalow that is the furthest from the entrance and I have an unobstructed view of the rice paddies from my lower deck area.

The bungalows are two stories high with the sleeping quarters upstairs and the bathroom downstairs. We are fortunate to all have air conditioned bungalows and we have Tewfic to thank for that. He is the photographer who set up the tour and came two weeks early to check on all the arrangements. We were originally supposed to have only three air conditioned units and at the time I had opted to not take one. There are no screens here so to get any air at night would have meant being very sure that the mosquito net around your bed had no holes in it!

My bathroom has one of the most original skylights ever designed. You look straight up into the open air and if it is raining very heavily, well, you are just going to get wet. I have made peace with the very large spider that was in the tub the first morning. Our accommodation is that, if he eats lots of bugs and mosquitos and scurries away when I am around, he will live to see another day and I won’t have a panic attack whenever I see him. He is still alive and I am still calm.

Same arrangement with the 8” gecko that was on the wall of the sleeping quarters when I first arrived.

The working day starts early here in the rice fields and I have yet to be up before they start. There are three plantings of rice in this area per year and we are fortunate to be able to see them preparing the fields for the next planting. Everything is done by hand and given the heat of the day, this is the “coolest” time to work. If you are prone to intense labor while wallowing in the mud and water, then this is the life for you.

The first thing that we did before setting out to visit any of the festival sights was to purchase sarongs. Imagine seven of us at the market looking at all different styles and colors. There is everything imaginable and they are primarily one size fits all for the men. The cotton one that I purchased would probably wrap three times around most of the Balinese men here but it does fit me, so I am told. One day I may even decipher the methodology of putting it on correctly. It will NOT be worn on any casual Friday so don't anyone get their hopes up. Photos have been taken and will be printed upon my return. What fun to bargain with the locals at the market. Group buying got us from $18 US down to $9 US for a sarong and belt. I had fun taking charge of the bargaining and I am quite sure that the owner only made 400-500% profit from the sale.

Our first stop in our new native costumes was to a cremation ceremony. We were welcomed into the compound by the family because we showed respect by being in native dress and our guide had a word with the son of the deceased man when we arrived. The ceremony was very elaborate and I have a number of photos. They will be on the next post along with a more detailed explanation of the ceremony.

There are many temple festivals ongoing in and around Ubud. We have been to four temples that were in various stages of setup for the festivals and we will be attending our first one tonight. Last night we attended a dance festival and I was able to get a front row place in front of the dancers. Very colorful and 12gb of photos.

I am getting the high sign that it is time for wheels up for the afternoon shooting so that's about it for this edition.

All is well, the food is delicious, it is hot, humid, sunny, cloudy, and the photos are coming along nicely. It is also now the afternoon of the 17th of July.

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