If Ubud represents as is often said, “The real Bali”’, then first impressions suggest that the real Bali is little more than a traffic choked mélange of Circle K’s, boutique artisan shops, pushy taxi touts, and a whole load of cock (hold that thought, I’ll come back to it later).
To say I was instantly enamoured would be stretching the truth beyond reason.
The beauty of Ubud is a slow-burner in much the same way as I found The Dordogne to be.
As per Dordogneshire, (I picked that phrase up from Alex at Ecovallee, check his blog to see what an amazing thing he and his family have created), the Ubud area is a magnet for expats.
After mooching around for several days, I can understand why.
There are no outstanding landmarks in Ubud to speak of, but the atmosphere of the town, the numerous temples with their ceremony and pomp, the ambience and artistry of the traditional shows and the green serenity of the surrounding countryside work as one to snare you with their combined allure.
The edges of the town back onto lush, stepped rice paddies which extend northward towards the volcanic peaks of Bali.
Abandoning family duties for the day and instead exploring the countryside by moped, I note that the surrounding villages each seem to have an artisan speciality.
One may specialise on bone carving, another is a community of painters, the next may be a colony of silversmiths.
Each of these specialities can be found for sale on the streets of Ubud.
Along these streets you will also find an extensive volume of cock for sale.
Large, thick, wooden cocks.
It hardly bears thinking how the villagers of cockville might introduce themselves at a dinner party. “Hi, I’m Wayan and I carve penises for a living. If you want cock, I’m your man. Very good morning price!”.
Each of the various sized cocks comes with an attached bottle opener, though wearing my Sherlock Holmes deerstalker, I deduce that these phallic objects of distaste are surely not designed for opening Bintang as their wacky appearance would suggest.
No Dr Watson, there is an ulterior motive for their sale. Something mysterious and unspoken lurks in the shadows of this town, and I think I know what it is.
If you’ve never been to Bali, but recognise the name of Ubud, then you probably have either read the novel “Eat, pray, love” or have watched the silver screen adaptation starring Julia Roberts.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t, and I won’t.
This movie is clearly one for the birds and my reasoning is that any bloke bent on discovering the three most important things in life would most definitely have concluded that their novel be named “Eat, drink, shag”.
Roberts in blockbuster romcom = Shit movie for blokes.
It’s a tried and tested formula thats as solid as E=MC2.
Pretty Woman was bad enough. The sugar sweet Notting Hill a damn good reason never to sit through anything she ever did again.
For women though, these are eternal classics.
Their promise of love found in unusual circumstances offers a glimmer of hope to a generation of unattached 30-somethings (The Bridget Jones brigade if you like), who dream that they too can follow in the footsteps of the heroine and in this case, find love amongst the rice paddies and temples of a small hillside town in Indonesia.
To walk the streets of Ubud is to walk through a tribe of female bohemian singletons hoping it will all come together.
They are to be found inside the cramped market alleyways in their scores. In cafes, they peer from behind their airbooks scouting out potential prey.
Nowhere in Ubud is safe.
Of course, I assume that once they get here, they search, they pretend to find themselves, and yet inevitably the dream remains unfulfilled.
This leads me to deduce the tribe’s need for recourse to simpler, less tactile methods of fulfillment.
Enter the large wooden cock.
My observations can mean only one thing.
Ubud is essentially a town of dildo’s looking for a place to spend the night. In it’s oversupply of desperadoes, it’s found the perfect partners.
Now that’s stripped away the mystique, you’ll never again be able to watch Julia Roberts without wondering what else she keeps in her make-up draw.