Black and White

In school I was horrible at picking out symbolism in literature. I don’t know if I lacked the ability to identify it? Or perhaps it was a rebellion on my part. I kept questioning whether the author always¬†chose a white dress to signify purity, blackness to foreshadow death, and red for passion or adultery. (I’m simplifying of course) What if the author just plain ol’ wanted his subject in a white dress?

Fast forward 30 years and my interest in symbolism has shifted. It has been interesting to see black and white‚ÄĒand red‚ÄĒapplied in this Balinese context. There is much meaning behind the use of the various colors and designs and I’m sure I recognize only a fraction of what is in front of me.




I was unaware of the police and/or security presence in Bali until I understood that they look like this (below) as opposed to the uniforms we’re used to.


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Even the little mourning dove wears a black & white necklace.


Bali’s regional mascot, the Bali Myna bird. (below) Mostly white, but a little black.


When I first arrived, these billboards were everywhere. I had no idea who these people were but I always thought of restaurants and chefs when I saw them. It was only a bit later that a taxi driver explained these were for an upcoming election for governor. I think the opposing party clothing was (I believe) more red and black (don’t quote me!)


Below, people on their way to ceremony (a lot more white than black going on here). I have seen lots of trucks filled with people going to ceremony but I just can’t seem to get a good photo of them! Wisconsinites might get a kick out of knowing I saw one guy outside of a temple milling around with others dressed in their ceremonial clothes‚ÄĒthe back of his shirt said Harley Davidson.


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Not sure how apparent it is, but these small flags across a rice field are black and white.



This last photo was taken in a little restaurant next to Bintang Market. It made me think of our cousin Chris so I wanted to post it somehow. I wasn’t sure how to link Bali and PEZ, but black and white did it.


Rice Fields of Bali

Arrrrgh! Technology.

I took a cab to a camera shop in¬†Denpasar (biggest city) last week to see if they could fix my camera. No one at the Denpasar location spoke english. I was lucky enough to be with a balinese driver, Made (pronounced Mah-day), who is the regular driver for a friend I’ve met here. I’d hired Made to get through several errands: easier than trying to hail a cab every time I stop and the price is usually cheaper that way. Through Made’s translation¬†I found out my camera would need to be sent to Jakarta, it would cost $200 to fix, and no one knew how long it would take other than “a long time”. So, I bought a new camera for $80. Two days later I finally realized I had not been given the USB cable that served 2 functions: charging the battery and being able to download photos to the computer. Duh.

To shorten up the story: the Denpasar store said they still had the cable and, they agreed to drop off the cable at a mall with a branch store that was more convenient for me. Yay!¬†I finally downloaded the photos from the memory card yesterday… which included photos from waaaaay back when my original camera stopped working.

So many things I haven’t put up yet… I’ll just try to get started.

These photos cover 2 different days. One set is from the rice fields around Ubud, but this first batch that looks intensely green is from the Unesco World Heritage site, Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. I took a day trip with another girl to visit this area.When the fields are flooded, that seems to be a prime time to take photos since the water is reflective and adds another dimension to the terracing. (you can Google those)

The first shot is me.

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This shot is an attempt to show you the distance from one level to the next in the terracing. This varies depending on the topography, but in many cases this was a 3-4 ft. drop. I did not see concrete reinforcements, just a dirt wall with grass growing. If there is something reinforcing it on the interior it was invisible to me.¬†On several occasions I have seen people hand-cutting this with machetes to keep it trimmed. ¬†Nothing was blocked off from access so we were free to walk on them and they did not give way. These ledges aren’t exactly sidewalk width though. Watch your step!


Below are photos of workers in the field. Our driver was kind enough to stop as we passed this area so I could photograph some real life examples of work in the rice fields. The traffic noise drowned out my ability to hear the driver detailing the process but I think this first photo was sort of like a rice nursery. Men were taking up rice-lings from the nursery (Photo 1), bundling them (Photo 2), and then the bundles are taken out and planted (Photo 3) and I believe this is a freshly planted field (Photo 4). Kinda looks like razor stubble.

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Don’t wear your best shoes to work.

These ladies are knocking the rice grains off the shaft. They would whack the bundle a few times, maybe 3 or 4 times, and then go get another bundle. This photo was shot the same day I shot the planting photos above. The fields are rotated so you have planting and harvesting going on all at the same time. I think they get 2 or 3 harvests a year and they also rotate crops so it isn’t always rice.

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Speaking of rice fields, my second hotel was in a rice field. The path you see cutting through the field was the only path to get there. Looks pretty unassuming from the front, but out the backside of the hotel was a lush valley of palms & greenery. This was the view from my room.

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Several mornings I saw a woman come through the fields with something in her hand to try to scare away birds from eating the grains. I saw a variety of approaches to scarecrows.

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Now we’re to the rice fields around Ubud. I took some video of my friend Kayla and I walking around one day but I think I need to reduce the size of the files to get them to post. So, for now, here are photos.

This first photo with the guy carrying a ladder sums up the situation. There is no other way to get things into the rice fields other than on these little paths. So these next photos of houses… think about it!

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Roads may be wide(ish), or not so much.

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This was our goal destination that day: Sari Organic, a restaurant smack in the middle of the rice fields. Paths weren’t well marked so we did a good 2-hr trek before we found the place which is actually only a 20 min. walk out of town. It was an interesting walk!


You initially walk up a set of stairs, leave your shoes (had that photo in an earlier post) and you see this super cool concrete floor. Remember this color? Just look back 1 post to Sadus tiles. I made it easy and included the photo below this one.



You can choose from traditional seating and sort of private seating in little huts. But the reason few people are sitting there is because there is another area with a view to the fields…

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… that’s where everyone is!

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I’ll try to increase my posting frequency now, and aim for shorter posts! Thanks for following ūüôā

Back to the Artisan Tour: Sadus Tiles

Concrete Tile

Several years ago¬†I’d found a few cuban concrete tiles at a garage sale where an architect was unloading some samples.¬†Then, while researching tile for remodeling jobs, I found myself constantly reflecting on the soft looking matte surfaces & subtle variations in the solid colors but couldn’t find anything that had quite these same qualities. Concrete is heavier than many other tile options so shipping is expensive. The only thing that came close was clay mexican tile, but those are considered to be more fragile‚ÄĒdrop something on them and you’re more likely to chip it. Concrete on the other hand is extremely durable.

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Here is a photo of Marylin, and the owner of Sadus Tiles in his factory.

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Below is their crazy wall of samples, but it also shows the water bath for curing the tiles. The water curing method takes very little energy and at the end of its use they clean the water before returning it to the river.


Love, love, L-O-V-E this color!!!


These metal stamps are occasionally sold in stores here for home decoration.

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Sadus is not a huge commercial outfit; they employ 15 people and can only manufacture a certain number of tiles in a day. I just visited their Facebook page where they posted photos of new tile designs. They even came up with an ikat motif (ikat means ‘weaving’, but also means a certain pattern & look that is currently trending in interior design & fabrics). Super cool.

This area is east of Ubud with gorgeous hilly terrain. They have built a few guesthouses and pools to serve the few tourists that choose to come to the area as there are few options for places to stay.

Below is one of the RARE photos you’ll see of me. We were walking around the guesthouse property and enjoying the river view, the garden, the guesthouses and the cascading pools (using Sadus tiles).

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This is the restaurant from the outside, then from the entrance.

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La Villa Coca – Kerobokan

I thought I was going to base myself in Ubud, but nope. I’ll admit I got a much better sense of the Balinese culture there: smaller town and less aggressive sales tactics, so it was a good place to start the trip. But now that I have seen Seminyak, this is where I have to be for awhile.

So‚ÄĒhere’s my new place for the next month!


Anyone who knows me shouldn’t be surprised that I had to draw this one out (no measurements, just eyeballed). I like the layout and want to remember it. There is a cross axis that works really nicely, and then there are 2 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms that mirror each other. (I only show the one I’m staying in as they are just decorated slightly differently.)

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Same area shown below, just from opposite ends.

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A variety of printed (uh… not necessarily original, but still interesting) artwork hangs throughout the space:



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The compound is walled but gets plenty of sun so I’ve taken advantage of the pool both days I’ve been here. I sure wouldn’t want to see what happens to someone who attempts to climb over these walls though! Bordering 2 sides is a french restaurant and the other two are private residences‚ÄĒno walls border a public street. I like the music that floats through from the restaurant, the bell ring I hear when food is ready, and the generally quiet chatter.

Finally, to get around I needed some wheels! The management company was nice enough to send over a bike, but I am going to keep searching because this one isn’t exactly sized for me.


I also didn’t get a lock with the bike so that was project #1 for the day. There is an interesting deterrent lock already on the bike that allows you to lock the front wheel in an angled position so someone can’t ride, except in a circle! But I still hoped the bike wouldn’t disappear while I was in the store. I had the management assistant Dolla, write down the words for “bike lock” in bahasa indonesian. I then was able to show this piece of paper at the store rather than waste time trying to pantomime my request. “Gembok sepeda” was the ticket. I was surprised that all the store carried were these (below) with the only variations being cable length, and color. I bought two since the cables were extremely short. I spent about $7.00 total on them.¬†Do these look like airplanes, or fish to you?