Day 191: Not As Weird As MONA

Wed. 20th February 2013

Statue at Blanco MuseumIt is a slow start to the day as we wait for the rain to ease off and it is almost lunchtime before we head out to see Ubud. We are staying on the hillside above the town and so we descend the narrow street, watching out for cars and motorcycles, to reach the main road. There is a bridge across the deep gorge between us and town, which we saw all lit up last night from the restaurant next to our hotel.

Lunch in a traditional restaurantWe start with the usual search for an ATM as we want to pay for the hotel in cash to avoid a 3% surcharge. There is no shortage of these in town. Restocked as multimillionaires, the next stop is lunch so I veto Starbucks and suggest a place down a flight of steps and set back from the main road next to a river gully. After asking for a table we realise that although the table tops are the usual height above the ground, we need to remove our shoes, climb up a big step and sit on cushions around the small table! Undeterred we duly sit and study the menus and I opt for tomato soup and Dave for Mie Goreng Ayam, which is fried noodles with veggies and chicken mixed in like a stir fry. My soup was quite sweet and very tasty and Dave enjoyed his meal too, we both washed the food down with fruit juice all for £4 in total.

Bonus ceremony at lunchWhilst we ate ladies started arriving in traditional dress and sat around chatting and eating. Shortly afterwards an older gentleman and young lad both dressed in white traditional dress arrived and the ladies scattered clearing a table for the older gentleman and a chair was pulled up slightly behind him away from the table for the young lad. We could not see what the gentleman was doing, though a bell starts tinkling rhythmically and presently the ladies started singing and lighting incense. All very fascinating, even if we did not have a clue what was happening – we think it was a ceremony to bless the restaurant and food.

Typical Balinese style paintingWe could have stayed watching longer but as the rain was holding off we thought we should move on. Almost immediately the heavens opened and so it was straight into the nearest museum. This was the Puri Lukisan Museum which includes works showing the Heritage of Balinese Art that is something we knew nothing about. The three separate galleries split the Art over the ages and apparently showed all the artistic styles in Bali including Ubud, Sanur and Batuan. However at the end of it all I seemed to have learnt was that most pictures depict people with exaggerated faces that look like the masks you see and the artist fills the whole canvas with people or trees or anything with great detail. They must take ages to paint or draw and the carvings are just as detailed.

Table decoration!After this we need sustenance so stop for afternoon tea (how English) at a hotel close by which costs almost as much as lunch and we did not even eat anything.

Our list of places to see in Ubud is quite long so we feel we cannot leave everything until tomorrow in the hopes the weather improves so we call in at the Blanco Renaissance Museum. This is an exquisite compound to savour the art, life and dreams of a Spaniard called Don Antonio Blanco (says the Museum leaflet). Last night we ate supper in the restaurant here and when we claimed our free welcome drink today in the restaurant they remember Mr David.

Exotic birds at Blanco MuseumThe visit to the museum begins with a walk through the gardens and stopping to admire the noisy birds, which we can hear in our hotel next door. The noise aside, the gardens provide a tranquil environment for the maestro’s studio, where his son now works. The main gallery is a purpose built building to house his, sometimes eccentric, works. Most of his paintings are of nudes and the frames are also designed by the artist to complement each piece of work. Some are almost of MONA like X-rated pieces and I had to look twice to check I did see what I thought I did! No photographs were allowed in the gallery so you will have to take our word for it, or come and see for yourselves, or there is always Google, oops Bing or your favourite search engine, to be politically correct! The museum was worth the $5 each we paid to get in. We tried to leave through the side gate to save us going down the hill to the main entrance on Ubud road and back up the side road, but it was locked.

View from our restaurant table down the hillIn view of this unpredictable  rain we did not feel like venturing far for supper so we returned to the restaurant in the museum as we had enjoyed it so much yesterday. We managed to enter through our “private” side entrance, where a lad seems to wait all evening guarding the door to let customers in. We were the only customers and felt sorry for the place as the food is so good. We should put a comment on Trip Advisor to encourage others to visit, probably both the restaurant and the museum.

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