A Southern Odyssey

There is joy in small things. Even here in Bali. Especially if you live in Ubud – and find yourself mostly confined within the town’s ever-expanding boundaries.

Once in awhile, you just GOTTA get out of town. Even if it means facing the throngs, traffic jams ad nauseum, the largest KFC I’ve ever seen and moto-mayhem to the max.DSC05785

Notwithstanding the downsides, it’s worth heading ‘down south’ – especially if an outing is on the agenda that you’re certain will prove to be a multi-sensory exploratory adventure.. or, as I called it, a ‘reconnaissance mission.’

You’d be right to wonder why our first stop would have been the Galleria (i.e. The Mall). Given that (thank goodness!) Ubud is Mall-less, there’s something first-worldly about taking a pit-stop at such a sprawling complex. Especially in Bali. Sometimes you just need a fix.

Apparently, it is common knowledge that, if you go south, you go to Ace Hardware. And any of the other shops that line the two floors encircling an open courtyard/atrium. A few of us first made a bee-line to Gramedia – for all things stationery and art supplies. Then, with the clock ticking, we realized we had just enough time for a cursory tour of Ace. I picked through a few things, sought out a reading lamp DSC05748– no luck. Off we go.

The next stop was Toko Central (a.k.a Central Beads). The words escape me to describe this emporium that overflows to the other side of the road, where a 2nd shop opened.

What a visual feast: Beads, buckles, bra cups. Feathers, fake flowers, furry bunny ear appliques. Sequins galore, reams of ribbons, a zillion colors and styles of zippers. Buddhas, Ganeshas and a bas relief of Christ.

Then on to the fabric shops – Silky Jaya and the mother of all fabric destinations (in Bali): Jalan Sulawesi. First stop was Vishni’s shop, chock full of flowing and folded material imported from India. With the sound of an imam echoing down the street, callingDSC05745 all to prayer, I scanned the shelves bursting with color, tiny mirrors and writing I couldn’t decipher. I couldn’t resist, not a few finds nor Vishni’s charm; so I left the shop carrying colors of white, silver, gold – and incense.

After a quick visit to the pasar umum (public market) at the lower end of the road, we set off to our final stop of the day: Paul Ropp’s Shop. Can you really resist popping into Paul’s place when his astronomically high wildly inventive and over-the-top wackily colorful couture is slashed down to 80%?

DSC05800Hallelujah! I can finally tick off that singular rite of passage, joining the growing ranks of fashion-starved Aussie and American expats who’ve shopped at Paul Ropp. Woo. Hoo. Even if my only purchase was a toned-down,  duo-colored scarf – nothing like the rest of his trademark wares, a rainbow of colored fabrics festooned with sequins, ribbons, pendants and more – marked down to a mere $10.

Altogether, with Denpasar, Kerobokan and Kuta on our itinerary, it was an unusually un-Ubudesque kind of day. I mean, you just do not see the fuselage of a plane’s tail end  hovering above a trendy, glassy, over-priced restaurant in Ubud – with a sacred altar nearby. (At least, not yet…amen) And, though I have no desire to move to southern Bali, this odyssey – wending our way past heaps of colors, ribbons, zippers, fabrics and housewares – and time with other arts-n-craftsy friends, suited me just fine.

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