I’m sure I’m getting older. Ubud is full of young backpackers. Young bearded men riding on Hondas fuelled by pure testosterone. They are so healthy and well dressed, and I swear their beards are oiled.
What happened to real backpacking?
I’m the ignored in this horny landscape of glamorous youth. Glamorous blondes and brunettes, and the occasional burnt out heifer look wardrobed from the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. They are flashing flesh and the antennas of the bearded youth are honing in on the estrogen emissions. The gray nomads parade as mutton dressed as lamb. They never contemplate how stupid they look. Money cocoons their stupidity.
Ubud is a western city transplanted in a poverty ridden island. The beggars from East Bali carry a borrowed child and pounce on the cashed up tourists who have just ducked into Bread Life for a western fix. “They borrow child,” confirms Sana, who knows the begging syndicate. ” They only work at the busy bars and restaurants. They make good money.” The number of well heeled tourist traffic guarantees them a good income.
Location location, even the poor impoverished East Balinese know that.
Ubud has become ferocious as Kuta. With more frequency I’m seeing middle aged western women on the back of bikes of local studs. Progress is marching forward. Ubud is just another commercial transplant. The boutique shops riddle the town. Starbucks, you are missing out on the action.
Another five star hotel springs up. “It was built on land that was a cemetery,” says Sana. I know. I pissed on the burning remains as the hotel was being constructed.
Ubud once use to be a quiet place. Sanur, the barber of Paliatan has every reason to hark back to the earlier days of bare chested Balinese selling local produce at the market. Even the betel chewing folk have been banished to the city’s limits.
I’ve had my Ubud fix for this month. I go to the communal baths for a reality fix. “Have seven girls from Bandung,” says one of the more colourful characters. He’s talking into his money bag. “You want foreigner?” he asks one of his Karaoke girls.
Sana has forgot where his bar is. He’s still thinking about the Chicken Farm that’s temporary closed. The water cooler conversations of the communal baths are still as stimulating as ever. Look what the ‘cool’ crowd are missing out on. This is the real Ubud. And I’m not about to tell them about this hidden Bali gem. Tripadvisor can get fucked!
I yearn for the grit of East Java. The simple dusty warungs. That’s where I belong.