Friday, November 30, 2012

Au Natural in Ubud: The Beauty of Green

I've always considered myself to be a diehard urbanite with no significant fondness for the great outdoors. But after decades of living in concrete jungles, Ubud has got me rethinking that particular self-categorization. As I prepare to leave after two days on this side of Bali's paradise, I'm realizing that I haven't eaten a single meal completely indoors since my arrival in Indonesia on Monday. This from a guy who always picks the table on the side of the entrance with functioning AC!

No, I'm not about to pack up my tent and go camping anytime soon (the fragrant nature air can be hard on my allergies, which is why I've begun using a nasal decongestant again for the first time in months, and I don't wear mosquito bites well), but it's hard not to appreciate the beauty of the natural world when you're in a place where pretty much everywhere you look, there are gorgeous shades of green. (Minus Monkey Forest Road, Ubud's main tourist drag, still enjoyable, but for reasons that have nothing to do with natural wonders or anything green.)

I'm still not sure how I feel about peekaboo bathrooms that are partially exposed to the elements (as has been the case in both hotels I've stayed in while in Ubud). I could live without geckos climbing the walls and mosquitoes hovering around me while I'm brushing my teeth, or doing whatever else one might do while in a bathroom. But I'd rather share my loo with wildlife (minus cockroaches!) than a human, and it helps that both of my private loos in Ubud have been so much more spacious than those cramped, mildewy ablution chambers that one often finds in traditional four-stars-and-under hotels. Also on the plus side, there's no light quite so flattering as the natural kind.

I haven't yet come up with a positive spin on why just about every eating and drinking establishment in Ubud insists on having cover versions of golden oldies for a soundtrack. Why settle for a recording of a Joan Osborne manqué remaking Steely Dan's "Do It Again," or "Careless Whisper" sung by a woman who is obviously not George Michael, when I can hear the real deals on my iPod? But in the general scheme of things, that's a minor quibble. And there's always Laughing Buddha Bar, which must be the only place on earth where one can hear Stevie Wonder's "Boogie on a Reggae Woman" (the original version) followed by a live band offering a rendition of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" that Thom York might actually enjoy.

If I didn't have to head over to Legian today to spend the weekend in a five-star luxury hotel that I'm reviewing for a freelance assignment, I could easily pass my remaining five days in Bali basking in the green glow of my reinvention as a mountain man of leisure. This hotel had better be amazing, or when I reach the beach, as I look out at the blue horizon, I won't be able to get my mind off of the green I left behind in Ubud.
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