There are no old people walking around the city perhaps because they live in the villages and only the young go into town to work or perhaps because it is not very safe to walk around. The pavements in Ubud are a mess. They are quite narrow, uneven and in places big chunks of it are missing so all you see is the running water of the open drain. And the odd critter peeking out. Sometimes big stretches of road have been dug up as some work is being done. They seem to happen in several places simultaneously and it is a hazard to stare at the scenery and the shops when walking about.
A friend came for two weeks and in one of our outings I pointed to a building that was crammed with local people and I suggested we take a peek. From behind me she screamed “don’t stop, keep going!” I could not understand what could be the cause of her alarm and then I saw it. The skin of a four legged animal still bloody, spread out completely flat on the floor…It could have been a dog or a goat, who knows…it was truly revolting…
Shopping is an experience and a western attitude can be a challenge. It is not rare to find assistants sitting on the floor in a corner eating something, but more often than not they will be sleeping on the floor. One time my friend came out of a shop in a fit of giggles. As she was looking at a clothes rail she noticed a man sleeping soundly under all the clothes. How you are received in shops tends to fall into two camps with very little middle ground. There are shops where several assistants are chatting to each to each other and completely ignore you and there are shops where the minute you step inside you are surrounded by two or more assistants that follow you everywhere you go. One occasion I was looking at a handbag for my daughter and I had one salesgirl by each arm breathing down my neck. I asked for space but it was not coming. I held each by the hand and took them to the other side of the table just a couple of feet from me. And there they stood watching every single movement I made. It was exhausting and I left empty handed.
The most significant thing has been how my perception of taxi drivers has changed over the weeks. You can’t walk for more than two steps without someone yelling “Taxi, Taxi!” When I was first here, I would stop each time, smile and thank them very politely. After all, they were just trying to make a living. After a while I would just wave them off, after that I would just walk passed them without any acknowledgement, fed up that they were interfering with my personal space and would try to engage me ever few steps. I hated walking right past them as though they weren’t there. I hated myself for doing it because that is not me but they would not leave me alone. This was the first clue that it was time to find a new destination.
I still love Ubud and I hope to come back again but for now it is time to leave.