My girlfriend is a delicate flower. Although she was born in the culinary heaven that is Taipei, she had an overprotective mother that wouldn’t allow her to eat any foods there – especially from the outdoor street markets that Taiwan is fucking renown the entire world over for. It’s the biggest tragedy of her life, to be born into such gastronomical wealth and not know it.
The second tragedy is that she grew up eating organic foods.
These two tragedies combine to form one of the weakest, most fragile digestive systems ever known to mankind – that of my girlfriend’s. So thanks to a perfect storm of … well, no, I suppose it was singularly her mother’s fault.
Girlfriend also gets motion sickness and can’t do long car rides, choppy boats or air travel on planes with propellers. She basically throws up more than any normal human being should throw up, and although she credits her abdominal muscles to genetics and hours spent in the gym, I’m pretty fucking sure that barfing after walking down a hill too fast is a contributing factor.
So as I was planning to get us out of Bali for a week before we had to return, I kept these criteria in mind (in fact, for the entire trip): no long car rides, no choppy boats, no small planes, and always near non-street-stall-non-delicious restaurants. Also, a nice beach and clean water would be nice, as in Bali we went to the ocean exactly once because of the large waves, cold temperature and generally murkiness that that coast is known for (it’s no wonder pools are popular on the island).
I settled on the Gili Islands off the island of Lombok next door. I was on Lombok last year, and it proved to be too uncivilized – even for me. A Taiwanese princess who packed a fucking clothes steamer in her luggage from Canada would have less patience for it. Gili Trawangan was a slice of South Thailand in East Indonesia, a bit overrun with downmarket tourists but at least that meant restaurants with schnitzel and Eggs Benedict. It also has that calm, blue water and white sand beaches pock-marked with palm trees and hammocks – postcard shit.
Normally, the route from Seminyak, Bali, to Gili Islands, Lombok, would require a two-to-three hour drive across the island of Bali to the ferries on the east coast, followed by another couple of hours on a high-speed catamaran through the Lombok Strait and to the Gilis.
But because the girlfriends is the fragile flower that she is – to whom mere fast movement is life-threatening – I was already stumped at just the first leg of the journey, the two-to-three hour drive from our hotel on the west coast of Bali to the ferries on the east. So that’s how we came to spend two nights in Ubud – smack in the middle of the two coasts, up in the hills.
“But I thought you said Ubud is just a day trip,” she said, remembering correctly. After Eat Pray Love, Ubud turned into an enclave for rich white women to practice yoga, eat organic foods and to try to find their Javier Bardem. I don’t mind any of these things, but I hate the by-product: expensive hippie bullshit.
(Actually, the entire island of Bali is like this, and I can’t say that I mind. That’s the reason why there are so many cafes serving organic this and fresh that, and although expensive for the region, the prices are a third of Los Angeles.)
So we went to Ubud.