Streets full of cars and other motorbikes, so many gas-powered and pedal rickshaws cutting closer than imaginable. The smell of gas and warmth and the wind whipped up by our movement. Weaving through the trucks stopped at lights. Illogical patterns and left-side driving. Passages through tunnels in the walls around the palace area. Families of two, three, four and a dog on one scooter. Food vendors on the sides of the road and narrow and uneven or absent sidewalks. Chaos and control.
Long flat runs through the rice fields. Greens brighter, greener than anything I have ever seen. Chickens in the road, roosters. Bicycles packed high in the front and back with long strands of something- sugarcane? Their riders shaded under wide cone woven caps while my hair mats down under a motorcycle helmet. Up into the mountains, smaller roads, steeper and rocky. Open homes and people spilling slowly and occasionally out. Getting lost. Help from a group of young men, one who leads us back to the main road, too much construction here. Too steep, I get off and walk sometimes just to make sure. Higher the greens are darker, the trees thick. Caught in a downpour of huge drops of warm rain, we stop up at a café that is someone’s house, are offered shelter, water, fried tofu in the simplest living room. On the way back, clearer views of tiered fields for cultivation, more palm trees, more rain.
A hand on Katie’s waist and one on the phone, pulled in tightly to track directions. Amazing to me that Google Maps works out here. Bright colors between palms and banana trees, Hindu gods at the end of the street and shrines and offerings from the sidewalks and tall bamboo Penjor poles curve into the open sky and dangle flowers and coco leaves above our heads headed towards Ubud. Dogs in the streets too, so many more here on Java that she points them out. They are unafraid. The sun is hot and my toes burn, but my upturned helmet fills with rain when we rest and drink fruit things in town. The roads to the temple are similar to outside Yogja, but better travelled. More advertisements. More people, so many more people in the smaller shop-lined streets up to the monkey forest that getting back on the road is a relief. Sunset over the rice fields and through the outline of residential homes. Taillights stretching and dancing.