So it was in the waning days of our time spent in Jogja that I finally came around to taking a shine to the place. It took a while as I wasn’t too impressed with the place upon arrival. Most of my enjoyment from this busy, loud, crazy city came from actually leaving town. We did a couple of day trips out to BOROBUDUR!! and Prambanan to see some temples. The drive out into the countryside was amazing, the best part being the lush jungle and just watching folks living their lives. What also made my time in Jogja cool was the amazing restaurant that was part of out home-stay complex at the Via Via. As mentioned, our room wasn’t worth two fucks. It was the kind of room that you see in the movies where a junkie is trying to kick his habit and the room is always grim with the paint peeling off the walls and he’s sweating and losing his mind (maybe seeing a dead baby crawl across the ceiling). But it did have a nice outside sitting area perfect for late night drinks, conversation and handjobs (so I imagine). But at the end of the day it was just a place to sleep.
The restaurant was the star of the show. We must have eaten there at least 8 times as it was the most consistently excellent food I’ve had on the trip. Everything was good – from the crispy fried chicken smothered in home-made spicy sweet and sour sauce, to the scrumptious Gado-Gado, the fried tofu and tempe plus many other fabulous morsels. And almost everything was under $5! Here here for Via Via! You won my heart.
We left Jogja on Tuesday and flew to Bali. We opted to bypass the famed beaches and instead head for the sleepy little mountain town of Ubud. Imagine our shock when we arrived to see throngs of tourists crawling all over the place. Even our driver was a bit surprised to see so much pale white skin buzzing all around the town like a swarm of ants feasting on the emaciated carcass of a dead, eyeless bird. It was a tad dismaying. But that’s Bali.
I mentioned to Swanson, “I don’t think anyone will be asking to take our photos here.” If you recall in a previous post, everywhere we went in Jogja locals asked to have their pictures taken with us. We were like rock stars. Especially Swanson. But like so many who had tasted the sweet nectar of fame and then were cast aside when they were of no use, in Ubud we shrunk into the background of anonymity. We were kind of like Sammy Hagar who went from Van Halen to selling Cabo Wabo tequila in Tijuana or that ShamWow guy who was at the height of his ShamWow prowess – he had it all; fame, women, money, power – when, one fateful sweaty Florida night an insane, drug-fueled rampage with a Florida hooker who tried to bite his face off, sent him toppling from his ShamWow throne and into the depressing realm of obscurity. That’s what it was like for us. Exactly.
We didn’t get off to the best start in town when we picked an over-priced, shitty tourist restaurant for our first meal. I knew we were in trouble when we sat down beside a table of tourists, and the portly frat-boy type dude forgot to bring his shirt with him. Tami remarked, “I don’t think I can sit here looking at that.” Who, in any place on the planet, thinks it’s OK to go to a restaurant in the middle of any town without wearing a fucking shirt? Such arrogance. Did this knob really need us all to admire his terrible tattoos, including one that was either a baby that had been in a fire or a “young” Benjamin Button?
But Ubud warmed up to us fast as we walked around town, hiked into the outskirts and enjoyed the local celebrations, which seem to go on every night. Not too sure if it’s a real thing or stuff that’s done to help part tourists from their dollars. And although you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a goddamn tourist (and believe me, I’ve tried) and we’ve had a couple of decent meals but have have yet to find anything that can rival the Via Via in Jogja, Ubud is still a pretty cool little town.
We stayed at a lovely little bungalow set in a beautiful garden. It had a cool outdoor bathroom. I like showering outside. Sexy. The only downside it the critters that might want to get in on the action.
It was a little pricey – about $42 a night so we moved into town for a place half the cost. No outdoor shower, but an OK room. It’s a strange little complex run by a family – friendly son and father but a crusty, unsmiling matriarch. Our toilet was leaking and after we mentioned it and asked to change rooms she insisted that it was fixed. There was an empty room next door but she didn’t clean it for over a day so we couldn’t move into it. She also looked unhappy when I asked to have our room cleaned after being there for 3 days. Oh, and she had scales for skin on her back. Tami says she’s just old but I think that she’s some sort of unholy reptile/human hybrid. I call her Reptilicus. I hope she’s not the one cooking us breakfast.
Besides fellow travelers, one other thing that Ubud has lots of is dongs. There are dongs everywhere. Phalli or phalluseses of all shapes and sizes (well, really one specific shape) can be found protruding out of many shops. Some at eye level. One has to be careful. There’s dong bottle openers, dong key chains, (“Is that a dong in your pants, or are you just happy to see me? Um…”), dong stir sticks, dong ear rings (unsure about these, but one can dream) and dongs with legs. Yes, legs. Be neat if they were motorized – giant wooden cocks walking around the town, getting in your way.
I know it’s a fertility symbol but it’s just a little odd having coffee with a two foot penis with big balls and tiny legs sitting next to you. It’s actually kind of cool as it lends a nice, somewhat erotic, vibe to the place. Some even have festive little flowers painted on them. Awww. I was thinking of getting foot-long bottle opener just to have sitting around the house. I’m sure that it might spark some interesting conversation at our next dinner party. Or at least inspire some awkward silences.
While Tami (especially) and I appreciated the unbridled passion for the dong that Ubud embraces, Swanson seems a little horrified by all the boners on display.