Our arrival at the Swallow Guesthouse is met with artistic creations of flowers and welcoming hosts. Cool breezes blow through open windows and carved wooden vents. Smooth marble floors are soothing to the feet. Hardwood and wicker furniture grace the interior and outdoor spaces. There is a spacious tiled bath and a slate and tile pool. The outdoor furniture is constructed of 100 year-old recycled hardwood from Java. The kitchen is a free-standing room with a steep exterior stairway to an open-air covered space constructed as a tea room.
A cache of eel traps hangs from the veranda. They are placed in the fields to catch eels for food. Worms are placed inside to attract the eels, which can then not escape.
The view is of verdant rice paddy, nearing its time of harvest in about a month. The entire growing cycle for a crop of rice is only three months, meaning that 3 crops per year can be harvested. The fourth annual cycle is a crop of soybeans that restores the soil for rice. Industrious farmers, or collectively maintained village acreage will plant four crops per year. Less industrious farmers will plant three crops.
There are four varieties of rice grown in Bali. A Balinese white rice, a red rice grown for food, a black rice grown for black-rice pudding and a short grain white variety. They all have to be dried and worked with hand tools in the sun. Rice drying on tarps by the side of the road is a familiar sight.
We are awakened in the early mornings by amplified Balinese geguritan chanting coming from a village temple across the rice fields. The priest is telling a story from the Mahabarata in sanskrit so he then has to translate for the people.
We are active in the mornings, but Ubud warms early and feels markedly hotter than our country “home.” We retire for the afternoons by the pool, heading out again for evening activities in town.
The first night, since we were arriving in the late afternoon to an unfamiliar place after a long drive from Amed, we were offered a home cooked meal for dinner. Of course we said yes. It was easily the best food we had sampled so far.
Dinner included a chicken curry, corn fritters, tuna baked in a banana leaf with bay leaf and a delicious traditional Javanese vegetable dish called sayur urap. The spices were grown in the cooks garden.
Overhead, a critter I’d never seen before looked like he was more interested in us than in insects. If this is a gecko, it’s a monster variety. This was easily at least 8″ head to tail. And beyond, the silent Maya trees. Heaven.