Bye-Bye Bali Hai
My Balinese vacation sadly came to an end as my 4pm flight left Denpensar on time. I was sorry to see my own little paradise become a distant and fading memory as the plan climbed to a cruising altitude. In my sadness, I’m still very glad to have had the experience. Much has happened since my last post. And according to some of your comments I’m not blogging fast enough — sorry people, in order to blog I have to have something to write about.
First let me respond to a few of your comments.
Dad, I don’t think they use human sacrifices for the volcanoes any more. The last eruption was in 1967 so I think the Volcano Gods are pretty satisfied.
Dr. Bruce, thanks for reading my blog. The hawkers weren’t so bad and they didn’t deter me from enjoying all of what I saw Bali had to offer.
Davina, I’m just glad you finally started reading the blog. Read when you can.
Okay, now to catch you all up on what’s been going on. As you know when I set out to be the Broad-n-Asia, my mission was to embark on a life changing experience. What most of your don’t know is that I was looking forward to my time in Bali to use to quiet my mind and get a little enlightenment as to who I am and what direction my life is going. Did I accomplish that, not completely, but I have quieted my mind and calmed down quite a bit. For that I am thankful.
Now where do I begin.
As most of you know I celebrated my 37th birthday in Bali, and it was by far one of the best birthdays that I can remember. The only that would have made it better was if I had been with the people I loved, but I’m not an ingrate I had a great time. I hired a driver, again to drive me around the island. He was a recommendation of friends of Corrine and Dominique, who used his services while they were in Bali. So I figured what the heck. I’ll hire a driver to show me the island otherwise I would have been regulated to Ubud and the Keliki Village. Not bad options mind you, it’s just that I didn’t fly all the way to Bali not see and experience all that I could.
My driver’s name is Dewa Anom, from the 2nd Caste system of Bali. Yes Bali or Indonesia rather still deals in caste systems. Dewa’s wife was from the 3rd caste of Bali. I guess classism or caste-ism as the case would have it, is universal. I first called Dewa to hire him for Saturday (8/23) because my mission since landing in Bali was to see the beach. That’s another story.
I called on Friday, and we spoke briefly on the phone and we made arrangements for him to pick me up from the hotel at 9am on Saturday. Since my plans for Saturday had been solidified I had to figure out what to do for the remaining part of Friday. I didn’t feel like going into Ubud, because its kind of far from the hotel and the shuttle service offered here runs every three hours and it stops running after 5:30pm. After that you have to hire a taxi to bring you to or fro and honestly you’re at their mercy so bargaining again only goes so far. So in true adventure form I decided to take a walk around the village – get to know my Balinese peeps. Off I went. One of the things you should know about Bali is that it’s mountainous and the roads are hilly. So if you choose to walk you choose to work out, no two ways about it.
Walking also proves to be risk because the roads are extremely narrow and truck, cars, mopeds, dogs (in that order) have the right of way before pedestrians. I never hugged a side of the road so much as I did as when I was walking to Keliki Village. Other than that the walk was pleasant and so were the people. Everyone I passed offered a friendly smile and a warm hello. Most were curious about where I was going, not that its strange for people to walk up and down the road, its just that I wasn’t one of them and I guess they wanted to know where I thought I was going. My response was simple, I said I was just walking to be walking. They were fine with that answer. During my walk I came across two ceremony processionals as Galunang and Kunungang was still going on and there were offers to be made to the God by the villagers. The Hindus, really take their ceremonies seriously and now so do I. I was care not to exploit their practices and to recognize these types of ceremony was to praise and worship God. Other tourist I saw really got in the way of the ceremony and viewed it more as enterainment rather that worship. I hate it when tourists come to Abyssinian to be entertained so I sure as heck wasn’t going to be a hypocrite with the Hindus. So, unfortunately there are limited flix and photos of the ceremonies– sorry.
I finished my walk and returned to the hotel for dinner andto prepare for my day with Dewa.
I awoke early Saturday morning, did my ritual daily word and Bible passage. By the way, if you don’t do it, you should always wake up giving thanks and praises to the Almighty God. I’m not trying to be preachy nor am I trying to tell you that you need religion, but in the immortal words of Shug Avery “ I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple and ignore it…. It just wanted to be appreciated.” So just take a little time at the start of your day to say ‘thank you.’ It makes all the difference in the world to how your day turns out. Sermon over.
I got dressed, and headed to the dinning room for my continental breakfast. Around 8:30ama strange man was coming up the stairs and instantly I knew it was Dewa. He has the guest relations manager for me and he pointed him my way. We introduced our selves and he asked me how I had heard about him. So I told him he was a recommendation of a friendof a friend. Anyway since he was early, he told me to finish my breakfast and to come downstairs once I was done.
I met Dewa at the car, climbed in the front seat and off we went. Since I really didn’t have an agenda, because you see, there is and isn’t much to see and do in Bali. The island itself is the attraction, not cheesy tourist destinations or attractions. Also you should know there is a certain spirituality that pervades throughout Bali and you can’t help but be affected by it. Even the most agnostic individual will be spiritually affected by Bali. Like I said I had no agenda I was hoping that Dewa would have an idea of places to see and experience. I did tell him that I wanted to go to the beach, but he explained since the weather wasn’t cooperating, as it was cloudy and rainy, now wouldn’t be the best time to go to the beach. He suggested we start with the Bali Bird Sanctuary. Oh joy. I didn’t want to insult him, so I went along with the program and bought a ticked to the Bali Bird Sanctuary or Bird Zoo. It was a nice sanctuary but I’m not really into birds and all of these birds were from somewhere else, not even Balinese. So of course negative and cynical thoughts began to creep in my head, like ‘oh boy, what a waste, I wonder if it’s too late to go back to the hotel.” Then I decided negativity and cynicsm have no place on this journey so I decided to make the most of it and look for the blessing in the lesson. I did get to see pelicans and an albino peacock – see blessing in the lesson.
I was done at the start of the bird show, and was hoping that Dewa had a better plan – which he did. He asked if I wanted to see any of the temples. Since starting this journey, I’ve had this need to visit temples and spiritual places, so touring temples were right of up my alley. The temples I saw are wonderful and I have the pictures to prove it. One temple that really stood out was Pura Bekasih, the Mother Temple in Bali. It is quiet grandin design, with different tiers for the different castes systems. Dewa had warned my that this Temple was full of fake guides who try to convince you to hire them to take you to the Temple. He told me I wouldn’t need a guide and to tell anyone who asked that I have been here three times before and I know the temple. He repeated this to me several times and made me rehearse it before I got out of the car. It was touching that he was so concerned about my well being. Once I was prepared, to Dewassatisfication to deal with the “guides” I went to the buy my ticket to the temple. Yes, you haveto pay to worship. Not a bad concept or different from the plate that we pass around, actually its better because the temple guaranteed payment from visitors. Perhaps I’ll mention this concept to Rev. Butts. Anyway I bought my ticket and right there at the gate, the ticket agent tried to sell me a guide. I remember what Dewa told me to say and repeated it verbatum. The ticket agent wasn’t going for it, so I repeated it again, this time more firm andI walked away with my ticket before he had a chance to argue. I haveto admit it was a little intimidating to be surrounded my all these men in sarongs trying to convince you to hire a guide. But I stood my ground. So as I turned I notice that someone was walking next to me and talking to me. I recognized this tactic and politely said, thanks for the company but, really I’m fine. He proceeded to tell me that he just wanted to practice his English, andthat unlike most of the men at the gate, who over charge, if I wanted to give him a tip I could. I said, I wasn’t giving a tip, I was just going up the hill ( again) to see the temple. He continued to walk and talk and I politely nodded on occassion, but I tried my best to lookas disinterested as possible, which really wasn’t hard to do because I didn’t understand what he was saying.
By the time we got to the base of the Temple I turned to him and said that it wasn’t necessary for him to accompany me any further, I didn’t need or ask for a guide. And do you know he said “ok, well how much do you giveme. I said nothing, I didn’t ask you to come up here with me. And he said that he just tookthe time explaining the Temple to me. Then he said just give me 20K rupiah. Now 20K rupiah is the equivalent to $2US, but there was a principle at hand and I couldn’t do it. I said I don have 20K rupiah all I have is $5K rupiah. He said “that is too little.” I said “It’s all I have, take it or leave it.” He took it.
On my way up the temple I was met with the same hawkers and “guides.” I just pretended not to speak english and kept walking, but they’re very persistent let me tell you.
In case your wondering, these temples came with a climb as well. It seems I can’t escape temples on hills, up hills or down hill. By the time this vacation is over I should have but you can bounce a quarter off of ( I wish).
Back to my birthday, as this post does have a point. My tour with Dewa was coming to a close and I still wasn’t satisfied having not been to a beach or anything, so Dewasuggested that I see the black sand beaches of Lovina, in case you’re interested Lovina sits on the Bali Sea in the north, as opposed to Kuta which sits on the Indian Ocean on the south of Bali. Just a little geographical tid bit. Anyway I ask Dewa what he was doing that next day because his price was fair and I didn’t have any plans for my birthday. He was free, so I booked him.
My birthday arrived on a somewhat cloudy day, but I didn’t care I was in Bali. So I got dressed and headed out to me Dewa. Our first stop was a Temple that is built on a lake, they call it the Water Palace temple, it has a formal name but I don’t remember it. But before we arrived at the Temple, Dewa remembered that I wanted to try a native drink call Daluman, it’s made from chlorophyll, sugar cane juice and coconut milk. It can be served hot or over ice. The day before we were told the Daluman was out of season, but on this day Dewaspotted a street vendor selling it a bought me two. I only needed one. The drink wasn’t bad, it kind of tasted like warm CapnCrunch with Crunchberries milk after you’ve eaten the cereal. The only thing I had a problem swallowing was the chlorophyll chunks. I did manage to get it down, but there was no way I was drinking that second one.
We reached the Water Palace temple and I took pictures and climbed some more stairs (you see the pattern?) And then I went back to meet Dewa and we headed for the twin waterfalls and the beach and then the hot springs.
I think this is the time when I’ll leave you in suspense, as I’m about to board my plane. So, stay tuned. For the next post.
Bali Baby D