We stopped by to say hello to, Ketut, a Balinese friend, with whom we stayed for six weeks last year. Sad that there was no room for us on his compound during this visit, we described to him the family compound we had found, located in the rice fields seven kilometers from Ubud.
His brow furrowed.
“Is it safe?” he asked.
We paused for a moment, imagining what an “unsafe” place in Ubud would be like. Too many bugs? Bands of feral chickens? Ubud presents few threats to the unaccompanied child, much less The Unaccompanied Lady.
“Uh, yah, it’s safe. I guess.”
Later, he explained that traditional Balinese architecture demands — and all Balinese comply — that a family compound has four structures on two axes. One, which houses the family’s elders, faces toward the sacred volcano Mt. Agung. the cooking area is opposite it. The family’s ceremonial area — where marriages, tooth filing and birthday ceremonies are held — is to the right and the rest of the family’s quarters opposite. While the embellishment and materials can vary, their proportions and distances between buildings are prescribed. All this effort helps keep good and evil spirits in balance.
“That’s how you know the compound is safe,” he said.
Take a look around. Is your Balinese compound organized according to these principles? If so, you’re safe.