Friday, March 20, 2015

Epic Days

Greetings from Ubud, Bali. Last week I was telling you about traveling in East Java through the teak forests to find sustainable teak wood suppliers.
This week I met up with our Indonesian agent (Ringo) in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia we were visiting two trade shows looking for suppliers. You can read it here.
Jakarta is a mega city, and I'm pretty sure there are twice as many skyscrapers than on my last visit about three years ago. But the roads are way behind the developments, it must be the worst traffic in Asia if not the world. You can really walk quicker than taking a taxi.
But the trade shows when we finally got to them were full of creativity, so much beautiful stuff. A lot of the worlds furniture is made in Indonesia, and the designers are world class. Of course the prices they want to charge at these shows are at a premium, especially the stands run by marketing companies. You might not believe this but I found plenty of products that we actually sell cheaper on our UK website, than in the show. However we found new suppliers in Bali I didn't know existed, and discovered the cities that specialise in different products. Also found lots and lots of ideas.
In the UK, you will by the time you read this have experienced an epic Solar Eclipse, and on the first day of Spring. The ancients would have read all sorts of wisdom and mysticism into that double occurrence. Here on the other side of the world it is Happy New Year.. or Isakawarsa - it is Balinese new year today. Ubud is the place to be for this.. but not the best timing for doing business, as pretty much everyone is ensconced in making the epic monsters that will troop round the streets tonight. Yesterday was the beach offering day for Ubud, whole villages piled into the back of trucks, set off in long convoys to the coast to make offerings on the beach, then later back to the village temples, bells clanging to make more offerings.

Tonight will be a riotous party in Ubud. There is massive competition to create the most amazing monsters. The creativity of local artisans is really let loose, and even though this is in essence a hindu religious ceremony, many images are sensual, some ribald and dare I say almost pornagraphic -much to the consternation of the many conservative Indian hindus who visit. There will be mock battles in the streets, later some monsters will be burned, the evil chased away for another year.

This is actually my personal third new year this year :) Once in Spain, of the regular sort, then Chinese New Year in China and now Bali New Year in Ubud.
But tomorrow is different, very different. It's called Nyepi or the Bali day of silence. I have been in Ubud once before for this.
Everything is quiet, peaceful. No cars, strictly no driving. You are encouraged to stay in your hotel. The airport closes, yes really. There are zero flights in and out of Bali. Last time the electric was off, and only cold food available. For some reason, you whisper rather than speak out loud.
So shsss... until next week.
The day after Nyepi I have a flight to Calcutta, India. So next time News from there..
Take care.

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