There is a quote says, “The journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page.” Indeed, reading offers us the pleasures of wisdom, knowledge and simply a way for us to spend our spare time. Ubud may be known as the cultural heart of Bali, but few people know of this little gem nestled in a quiet area in the central Ubud. With a well-signposted path leading to it, Pondok Pekak Library and Learning Centre is open daily from 9AM to 5PM. It is relatively easy to get there, either by car or motorbike, unless you stay in central Ubud, which affords you the option of walking. To avoid the crowds, it is advisable for one to arrive in the morning when the library is just open. You can easily spend up to 2 hours without participating in any of the classes or activities, and more so if you intend to do so.
The library was founded in 1995 by an American expatriate who was also an avid reader, and shocked to find the paucity of books in Bali. Originally, the library was designed primarily as a place for expats’ children to study, and hence frequented by expats. However, the founder mission was to raise the literacy rate of the local children by making reading and books more accessible to them. With some support and funding, a bilingual children’s library was eventually constructed in 2001, separate from the adults’ library.
As its name suggests, you can read and borrow books for a fee. The two libraries combined hold over 30,000 fiction and non-fiction books in about ten languages including English, Indonesian and German. The books also cater to different readers from beginners to avid readers. And you are blessed with a conducive reading environment at the terrace upstairs where you can enjoy views of the football field and lush greenery. Free Wi-Fi serves to augment the experience. Children are of course, not neglected. The children’s library is made a very comfortable place with soft pillows for the young ones to cuddle while reading. Educational games are also available for children who need a break from reading and wish to exercise their minds.
Of course, as the place is also a learning centre, classes are also conducted, and one popular one for foreigners or expatriates is the Indonesian language class. Specifically tailored towards beginners of the language, lessons are either conducted privately or in a group of between 3 and 8. A private lesson for one person costs IDR 175,000 for one lesson of 1.5 hour and the per lesson cost declines if you sign up for more lessons. A full four-week intensive group course costs IDR 1,000,000 per person for a total of 12 lessons of 2 hours each. All lessons are only conducted by qualified, patient and dedicated instructors. It is, however, important to note that advanced payment is required for the registration of these classes and no refund is offered after payment should you cancel them.
As a place active in promoting local cultural awareness and understanding, many other cultural activities are also conducted there in the form of classes. Those into music and dance will like either the Gamelan or Balinese dance classes held for people of all ages. If you prefer arts and crafts, you would enjoy a class of Balinese offering making, woodcarving, Balinese painting or fruit carving. Woodcarving and fruit carving are two forms of art unique to Bali. You will be amazed in particular when you see how beautiful figures can be carved out of fruits like watermelons, not to mention the opportunity to taste the sweet fruits while you work on your pieces. Fees are reasonable at below IDR 300,000 for a one to three-hour lesson.
Finally, you will also be glad that by signing up for the classes, you are also doing your part to support the centre financially in its mission to raise literacy and cultural awareness. Besides participating in lessons and getting to learn something new, you are also welcome to purchase or donate books for their good cause. Other resources or funds can be donated too. So if you have some extra time while in Ubud, consider visiting this small place where you can spend away your time easily while gleaning knowledge and helping to serve a good cause.
Pondok Pekak Library & Learning Centre
Jalan Monkey Forest, Ubud
+62 361 976194