Ubud is billed as the 'centre of cultural tourism in Bali', which basically means it's full of art galleries, wood carving shops, hotels and restaurants. It's also full of tourists, and where Kuta is full of Australians on shag-and-tan holidays, Ubud is full of Germans on a more cultural experience. While I perused the streets, I noticed a complete social stratum in the tourist scene, one I'd never quite spotted before because in a white culture, it's not always so easy to spot who the tourists are.
First up there are the package tourists, who come in two flavours: beach bums and smarter couples. They're obviously only here for a short time, because they spend money like there's no tomorrow, buying big and bulky souvenirs for inflated prices and making the local tourist industry rub its hands in glee.
Next up are the obvious backpackers, who tend to hang around in couples or groups, with young girls gossiping just like they were back in the hairdressers at home, and the lads being lads but without quite stooping to the depths of the beach bums. They wear lightweight hiking boots, daypacks, big money belts and keep talking about travelling and how it opens your mind and how they'll be so different from their friends when they get back home and how they don't know what they'll do for a job when they get back and how everyone should go travelling and how much they miss real beer and how amazing it is to think that people can survive in suburbia... and so on, ad nauseam. Quite a few of them have visited Cairns and Uluru and think they've done Australia, if you know what I mean.
Then there's the dropout crowd, made up of hippies who hit the Asian trail, discovered cheap Thai grass and never looked back. Not as prevalent as they used to be due to stricter entry requirements, they're still here, wearing scraggy clothes and inane grins. The dress code for Southeast Asia is clear; in most countries, modesty is highly respected, and both men and women should cover up in public (so that's trousers and shirts rather than tiny shorts and bikini tops). Flip-flops, swimwear and long hair are generally frowned upon by the locals, but they tolerate it because these strangers have money to spend, particularly in tourist spots like Kuta. Long shorts seem to be reasonably acceptable, but skimpy swimming trunks or teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikinis... well, they're really not the done thing.
And me? Where do I fit in? Well, I'm obviously a tourist, but I'm trying to look like someone who's attempting to fit in. I wear passably smart clothes. I have a respectable, short haircut. I keep myself to myself, don't get rip-roaringly drunk in the watering holes, avoid the expensive restaurants, and try to take public buses rather than the pricier tourist shuttles. I've got a hell of a lot to learn, but I've already done more adventurous things than most people do in their whole year in Asia. Give me a couple of months, and I hope to be able to go anywhere, and survive.