•August 27, 2008 • Leave a Comment
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•August 27, 2008 • Leave a Comment
My last day in Bali

My last day in Bali

This is what I woke up to every morning in Bali
This is what I woke up to every morning in Bali

•August 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Bye-Bye Bali Hai

•August 26, 2008 • 1 Comment

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.

xxoo

Bali Baby D

Bali Baby D, day 3

•August 25, 2008 • 8 Comments

So if you’re a dedicated reader of the blog and I don’t expect <!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

Today was a good day, I met Dominique and Corrine at the front desk as planned and we headed into town to see the market place and pick up their rental car, as they planned to tour the island by themselves. I thought how romantic. We headed into town with our first stop being the open air market that the locals use to pick up everything – from fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, pots and items for the offering alter. Dominique had been told about this native drink called daluman which is made from plant chlorophyll had has some medicinal properties. So off we went into this market in search Daluman. The market is extremely crowded with vendors, I think there were more vendors than shoppers, and because the market offers everything you can imagine just what the market smelled like. At every turn there was a different smell. At one end there was the smell of Franjaponica, which is the best smelling flower in the world and at the other end there was the smell of dried fish – that mixed in the aroma of fresh sewage at the far end of the market. In addition to fresh goods, you can buy prepared goods like what I called the Balinese cupcake. Ok, so I pass by this booth where these nice old ladies were selling this pretty little sponge like cakes, so I inquired as to what it was. Y’all know how easily skeeved I get when people hand you a piece of something, well wouldn’t you know she broke off a piece of the cupcake and gave it to me to eat. I was stuck. I couldn’t insult my hostess, because this was her lively hood, but at the same time I didn’t know where her hands had been. So I took the piece, thinking that she would turn her head or something so that I could fake the funk, no such luck, she had her eyes fixed on me the whole time. So I said a little silent prayer thanking God for tetanus shots, and Cipro and I put the tiny morsel in my mouth, as Balinese Grandma watched. Two days later I’m still here. Thank God.

Still in pursuit of this Daluman, we stopped to ask where we could find it, and each time we got waved over there, that same kind of stop bothering me kid, I’ll just wave you off to get you out of my face kind of wave. When we finally arrived “over there” we asked one shop keeper about the Daluman drink and where it could be found and she pointed down to a little shop where it is made but as luck would have the Daluman Man had closed up shop and left for the day. It just wasn’t our luck to try Daluman that day.

I did get some cool shots of the market as well as an interesting couple (I think they were Japanese) who were being shadowed by three paparazzi-like photographers. When I asked the lady who was with them – a publicist I suspect, you know I sniff out my own kind, all she offered was that they were shooting pre-wedding photos. I think there is more to the story to that. Once I upload the footage and film, take a look and let me know if they look familiar.

We had a couple more stops to make before we headed back to the hotel and the first one was to find a gas station, because Balinese rental cars although cheap ($15.00 per day) don’t come fully loaded with gas that is up to you. Oh and did I tell you the Balinese drive on the right side of the road and that the rental car is a stick shift on the right side of the car. Oh and one last thing, the car Dominique and Corrine rented, didn’t have first gear. This was going to be fun. I was tucked away in the back seat of at Suzuki Samurai, now that I think about it I probably would have been better off walking back to the hotel but my legs were tired from all the walking I did the day before. Any way we’re in the car and so far, so good, Dominique has gotten the hang of driving and we’re now looking for a gas station. One should know that there are that many gas stations in Bali, which is strange compare to the number of motor vehicles on the narrow roads. So we’re driving around in the automobile looking for a gas station, petrol, something because the dial is on “E.” Again we stopped to ask for directions and again we got the brush off wave followed by “100 meters.” So we drive 100 meters and nothing, we ask again and again the same thing – wave followed by 100 meters, we drive again. Finally we come to this shop where two men are chatting and we ask for gas again. They said something in Balinese and then called to some one, a lady comes out, and goes to another part of the store and pulls out a gas can full of petrol. Lesson learned here, don’t look for gas stations, look for stores where there is a “Premium” sign swinging in the wind. We got the gas, had a laugh and realized that Balinese people won’t steer you wrong with the wave and if they tell you someplace is 100 meters trust them.

As we were driving our 100+ meters we noticed this beautiful rice field, so once we got gas, as we were driving back to the hotel we stopped to take pictures of the rice field – magnificent is all I can say. As we were taking it all in we noticed there was a little restaurant called Café Dewi that overlooked the rice field. Corrine was hungry and I hadn’t eaten so we decided to have lunch there.

Don’t let the beauty of Bali fool you, everyone has their hustle and everyone is out to get a Euro, but they’ll take a dollar. Once we settled in to our table at the restaurant there was a farmer who was tending the fields, or so we thought. Of course, we wanted to capture the authenticity of the moment so we snapped the farmer’s picture. Once we were done and satisfied with our attempts at playing Herb Ritts and Annie Leibowitz we headed back to our table and so did the farmer. In our excitement to capture that moment, we neglected to read the sign that read if you take the farmer’s picture he will ask you for money. So we were obliged to give him money. Everyone has their hustle.

The down side about Bali is there is this constant, persistent hawking of goods that just doesn’t cease and it gets on your nerves, even the cute little children are in on it. And the pitch is always the same and so are the goods for that matter. “Just one euro, I give you good price. Post cards, just one dollar special price for you.” All of this is said in a baby voice whine, man, woman or child it doesn’t matter they all whine. It also doesn’t matter how you say “no” they don’t here it. Finally I learned to say, I left my money with my husband in the room that is until somebody said go get him. Enough was enough; it really is the only turn off to Bali.

After lunch and the hassle of the hustled we returned to the hotel, I said bon voyage to Corrine and Dominique and headed to my room as a result of the market and restaurant gastronomic experience. Again, thank God for cipro – it is a travelers dream.

More to come and pictures too, I promise.

Bali Hai –August 22nd Post

•August 25, 2008 • 1 Comment

So if you’re a dedicated reader of the blog and I don’t expect <!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

Two days have passed since my last entry and much has taken place in those two days. To be honest traveling alone is not the easiest thing to do, especially when it seems like I’m the only one traveling alone. Elizabeth Gilbert the author of Eat Pray Love (part of the reason for this journey) painted a pretty picture of solo uno travel; however she forgot to mention that until you make friends along the way, you’re lonely, self-reliant and self-conscious. However, if there is one place in the world to travel solo uno, Bali is the place. Bali is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever traveled. The landscape is so lush and so green. There are rice paddies and coconut groves as far as the eye can see. But the landscape isn’t the most beautiful aspect of Bali – the people are. Never before have I come in contact with such warm, genuine and embracing group of people. The Balinese are eager and happy to say “hello” and offer a kind word of English. Don’t get too excited, generally the Balinese only know about five English words and a conversation generally goes a little something like this? Me: Hello (smile) Balinese: Hallo (smile). How are you? Me: Well, thank you. How are you? Balinese: Hallo (smile). Bye-bye. I can’t talk, here I am a visitor to this beautiful country and I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t practiced a bit of Bahasa. Well at least I personify the typical American tourist. The President should be so proud.

Back to the people, in addition to being very warm and eager to meet and greet strangers they too are physically beautiful. Ranging in complexions from café au lait to deep mocha, their beauty is unparalleled.

Thursday was my first full day in Bali. After writing my first Bali post, which hopefully you’ve read by now, I had breakfast which consisted of fresh fruit, tea, apple juice a croissant and the best fruit jam I’ve ever tasted. I can’t recognize the flavor but it’s absolutely delicious, which is great because the croissant as well as the other breads are a little dry and crumbly, at least that’s what I found. Having absolutely no plan and traveling solo uno, of course I wanted to go into the city to experience the flavor of Ubud, the closest city to Keliki Village where the hotel is located. Of course I choose a hotel somewhat off the beaten path so I am at the mercy of hotel shuttles or drivers to get me to and from Ubud. Walking is possible but where it’s a: 15 drive into Ubud it’s more like a 3 hour walk. Not that I mind walking as we’ve all experienced, but a sista is tired. By the time I inquired about the shuttle the first one had already left. They leave at 9am, 12pm, and 5pm. Fortunately and I do mean fortunately, a couple who were also staying at the hotel had arranged for a driver to take them into Ubud and welcomed me to join them. So in we climbed into the Balinese version of the Toyota Highlander with Ketut the driver into Ubud.

The couple, Corrine and Dominique is native French but live in Ft. Lauderdale and have lived there for the past 17 years give or take a year or two. They are a lively couple who have such great and positive energy about them. You can tell they really enjoy life and living it with one another. They arrived in Bali two days before I did and at the time of our ride into the city were planning to rent a scooter to tool around Bali for the day. Because they had been there two days before they were able to help me navigate Ubud – giving me advice as to where to use the internet, where to eat, what dances to watch, how much to pay a taxi back to the hotel, etc…

Before we arrived into the city, we stopped at and artists studio. The village of Keliki is known for its artist and art colonies. Each village in Bali is known for producing something. In Keliki it’s art; in Celuk it’s siver-smithing, in Mas it’s teak furniture (thanks to Dominique and Corrine I now know how to ship furniture back to the States, in case you’re interested in doing so) and in Batuan, its stone carvings. Anyway we stop at the studio of 1Wayan something or another (I have his card somewhere). The studio is apart of 1 Wayan’s family home, farm and temple. It’s important to know that the Hindus in Bali take their worshipping seriously. Not only is there a village temple that all of the villager use, each family dwelling has a temple on the grounds for familiar/every day worshipping.

Fortunately for me, I arrived during a time of celebrations and ceremonies. I arrived at the start of Galulang a ceremony that celebrates good and evil. As I understand, it’s important for the Hindus to celebrate the balance of life. There can be no good if there is no evil and Galulang is the time the Hindus celebrate good winning over evil. This is a high holiday as stores are closed and there is a processional and ceremony taking place throughout day in all the villages across Bali. I was fortunate to witness this celebration, as I truly wasn’t expecting to land right smack dab into a celebration, but that’s the Universe for you – full of surprises.

Back to 1 Wayan, his art is absolutely stunning. The portraits mainly of Hindu Gods in set in traditional Hindu stories are so detailed and vivid. I’m thinking about making a purchase or two before I leave. 1 Wayan invited us to look around his home and temple and even invited us to meet his pig and her new piglets. Again, not something I expected to do. Thank you, Universe.

We left 1 Wayan headed for the city; we drove about a half a mile right to my very first rice paddy field. You should know that Bali is rice paddy, upon rice paddy, upon rice paddy and if that’s not enough rice for you, I just learned that the Balinese government imports rice for Thailand. The rice paddies are so intricately designed and make up the landscape of Bali. Rice paddies are built like stair steps one after the other, either carved into a mountain or stacked on both sides of the road. It’s very interesting how it’s done. Furthermore the paddies are systematically irrigated so basically all you see is rice reeds peeping up from the water – it’s quite a sight. So much so, I have about 100 pictures of just rice paddies. What can I say, I like looking at them.

When we finally arrived at the center of Ubud, the city was already abuzz with mopeds, taxis and tourist. So many tourists. Throughout my trip with the exception of Beijing, I had not come across as many tourists I have in Bali. Most of them French tourist, so it forces one to wonder if the French has some special discount going one. Oh, and remember when I wasn’t feeling special in Seoul? Well, I’m very, very, very special in Bali. The Balinese, ask me if I’m South African. They don’t expect me to say that I’m American. Oh well, SawauBona (Afrikaans for Hello). Once we arrived at the town center, Corrine, Dominique and I parted ways and I started on my exploration of Ubud central. First I found Bali 3000 Internet Café then I found a money changer establishment, but never fear money changers are prolific in Bali. I quickly changed my $100US into 900,000Rupiah, yes folks 900,000Rupiah, which to the Balinese is a lot of money and can go a long way.

I walked down the main street in Ubud, and FYI there are two main streets in Ubud, and they intersect one another: Jual Raya Ubud runs east to west and Monkey Forest Road which runs north to south, but turns into Jual Raya Campuan at Jual Raya Ubud. After exploring some of the shops (I decided not to do any shopping until the day before I leave) and wandering aimlessly, I had lunch at Bumi Bali on Monkey Forest. It’s a cute restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating. The food was very good and I tried the black rice pudding for dessert. The rice pudding was served warm, almost like a cereal but it can be served cold as I experienced on Saturday.

After lunch I headed further south down Monkey Forrest and ended up at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. For 10,000 Rupiah you can commune with a troop of Macaques monkeys. For 10,000 more you can buy bananas and feed the monkeys. Yeah about that, you should know that manners are not these monkeys strong suit. Now don’t get me wrong the monkeys are really cute and they are friendly for the most part, but when food is involved, just GIVE IT TO THEM! I was trying to be nice and distribute the bananas evenly amongst the troop. Either I wasn’t moving fast enough or Grandpa Monkey just decided my bananas were his, because the next thing I know I became a human monkey bar for Grandpa Monkey. To everyone else it was quite comical to me; I was just violated and defiled by a monkey. To know surprise I quickly gave up my bananas and that was that for me and monkeys. Fortunately for me, this was not caught on tape, but there were quite a few laughs from the other tourists.

Once I gave up on the Monkeys I explored the other areas of the park, which also serves as temple for funerals. It seems that families come there to cremate their recently departed as per the Hindu tradition of funeral pyres. However if the family can’t afford a cremation at the time, they bury the departed until they can afford it, sometimes it takes six months. I happened upon a recent burial; poor Jedar left here on August 5 and is still waiting to be given over to the afterlife yet. You’ll see in the picture, once I post it.

As I was leaving the Monkey Sanctuary and crematorium, I ran into Corrine and Dominique who were looking for a restaurant, Lake Leke someone told them about. I had to go to the bathroom, plus I was tired of being alone, so I volunteered to accompany them to the restaurant, so that I could use the facilities. The according the source and the guide book, the restaurant was just off of Monkey Forrest Road. We searched Monkey Forrest Road high and low, up and down and couldn’t find this darn place. Finally we asked the guides that monkey sanctuary, and he pointed to a road that looked more like an alley way and told us to go that way. The Balinese are quick to point somewhere, giving the impression that they just want to point you away from them, but as it turns out, they are being very helpful. We followed the road which runs behind the Monkey Sanctuary until we found the restaurant and a very nice restaurant it was, on a rice paddy (of course) with delicious food, according to Corrine and Dominique. I only had a taste of the coconut cream pie – it was good too.

We walked a little further after that and then we parted because I wanted to catch the traditional Balinese dance that was being performed at the main temple in Ubud. The dance was quite a spectacle, full of color and rhythm and of course each dance tells a story about the balance between good and evil. The good thing about the dance is that it’s not a cheesy as you would expect – for it to be a tourist attraction. For me it was a cultural experience and leads to further insight and appreciation of the Balinese culture.

After the dance it was time to go back to the hotel, I made plans to meet up with Dominique and Corrine early the next morning to experience the outdoor market that opened at 5am and closed at 9am. One thing you should know about the Balinese is that they like to bargain with you, to them its good luck if everyone walks away happy. Those of you, who know me, know that I don’t like to bargain, I get no thrill out of it at all. Just give me a fair price and I’ll be happy. Yes, yes, I know, I’m a car salesman’s dream. Anyway, I made my first attempt of Balinese bargaining with a taxi. You remember my hotel, although very nice is quite a ways from central Ubud, so I had the pleasure of trying to secure a taxi for a reasonable price. According to Dominique 60K rupiah was sufficient. So here I go, trying to bargain with the taxi driver. I told him where I needed to go, he said: Oh very far, 100,000 rupiah ($10US); I said 60K rupiah; he said oh no, very, very far, 85 rupiah, I said $70 rupiah was the best I could do. In reality I had no bargaining power, I had no idea where I was, I was alone and I was totally dependent on the kindness of strangers. Thank God this taxi driver was kind. He accepted my offer and drove me back to the hotel for 70,000 rupiah, to Dominique’s dismay, as he felt I paid too much. C’est la vie.

Pictures to follow

Bali Baby D

•August 21, 2008 • 9 Comments

So if you’re a dedicated reader of the blog and I don’t expect <!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

August 21, 2008

Greetings family, friends and fellow bloggers,

Well I made it. I finally made it to Bali and oh what a place it is, but I’ll get to that later. My flight, which was supposed to leave at 10:05am yesterday left at 12:30PM. Which meant that by the time I landed in Denpensar, paid for my visa; stood in line for my visa and went through customs it was already evening so I didn’t have a chance to see Bali in the daylight.

Like I said my plane was delayed for two hours, what I could do. It was out of my hands, apparently there was a mechanical issue with the first plane – I wasn’t going to argue with that. So they gave us food vouchers and a new gate and told us to meet for a 12:30pm departure time. The one thing that I have known for a long time, thanks to dear old Daddy, is that you can’t worry about things you can’t change, I am now beginning to employ that mantra. I took the two hours to explore the Hong Kong airport and it’s a nice airport. I’ve never been in an airport where there is an Hermes store – impressive. Anyway, I got something to eat, at Burger King. It was only $75 HKD voucher and $75HKDs don’t by much in Hong Kong. So BK it was. Also, the spicy crab I ate from the night before decided that he too wanted to journey to Bali, so I was dealing with him, so now you understand why BK was a safe bet. After lunch I did some more airport exploring and then headed to my gate. We boarded the plane with no problem and once I got situated in my window seat (optimal for long flights so you can rest you head against the window) I was joined by the Hills of Great Britain. Now the funny thing about the Hills, Shirley Rose in particular is this woman was not going to be happy the entire flight. She wore a face as if she were sucking on a lemon and her husband; I don’t know his name was apparently getting on her nerves. He lost her socks, so her feet were cold, he wasn’t moving fast enough to put her bag away, he kept giving her his trash an on and on and on. It was quite comical and the husband was kind of a bumbling idiot in that stereotypical British kind of way. The funniest moment came as we were preparing for landing. Earlier in the flight the attendants handed us the customs and immigrations forms to fill out. Now Shirley and I filled ours out the minute they handed them to us, why wait – it was something that needed to be done and we didn’t want to have to rush to do it in the immigration line. The husband decided that he wasn’t going to fill his out then but wait until the last minute but he need Shirley to give him all of his documents and a pen to do so. In order for her to do that, she had to go into her purse, which was supposed be secured underneath the seat in front of her. So here comes the flight attendant, down the aisle ensuring that everything is stowed properly and of course in our row it wasn’t. The flight attendant was firmly stating that all bags needed to be stowed and Shirley was yelling at the husband because he waited so late to fill our his forms; the husband was just bumbling away without a care in the world. It was all very funny, I guess you had to be there, but I was there and it was funny. Finally we landed. Stowed purse and all and Shirley turns to me and says, “You go on from here alone, but I’m stuck with him” (and she cracked a smile). To which I replied I don’t think so, he’s just left you and he’s down the aisle and out the door. Funny very funny.

Once I got through the whole visa and immigration process, it took approximately an hour and half – Balinese people are in no rush, just so you know. I went outside to find my driver and there he was with a sign with my name on it –“Mr/s Deanna J. Williams,” I guess it wasn’t obvious if I were a man or a woman. Oh well. Nudi, the driver was dressed in typical Balinese garb—a head covering, not sure of the name and a batik sari (I think) for bottoms, I discovered this is typical dress for the men of Bali although a few do wear pants. We got in the car and drove from the airport to Ubud about a :45minute journey. There are more motorcycles, mopeds and bikes on the road than there are cars and the operators drive with reckless abandon on narrow one lane streets. It’s a little unnerving to say the least.

We pull up to the resort – the Alam Sari Keliki Resort and Spa to be greeted by Nico who processes my paperwork and escorts me to my room. It’s a nice room, very simple, no television or in-room internet. It’s very Bali as I’m told by Nico. I have a patio that overlooks a rice paddy and a spider who hangs out in the archway. Because it was so dark when I arrived I didn’t have the ability to really see all of the beauty of this place but now I see and appreciate. I’m writing from my patio where I’m surrounded by the most lush and green foliage. Oh the one thing I forgot to write about is that Bali, is very fragrant and aromatic. When I left the airport there were incense burning that instantly calmed me. Even throughout the drive to the resort there was a fragrance the permeated through the air. It was quite comforting. But then when I got the hotel the fragrance of fresh flowers was so overwhelming, not in an overpowering kind of way but in a sweet, gently kind of way. The flowers are so fragrant, it’s as if someone sprayed them with perfume, but it’s only the true essence of the flower.

After I had dinner, I settled into my room and tried to situate myself once again a stranger in a strange land. My bathroom is partially outside, so there for I get all the sounds of nature and some visitors too, like the world’s biggest mosquito, I swear he had to be 2 inches long and fast. I couldn’t catch it, hard as I might. But I wasn’t going out without a fight or protection. After my shower I got in to bed and secured my mosquito netting all around – tucked it under the bed just to be sure. The airport agent at Beijing took my bug repellent, so the netting was all I had to work with. Once I got into bed I was lulled to sleep by the pitter patter of the rain, the crickets and the croaking frog. I swear one of the frogs made his way into my room and began to croak for five minutes, until he realized he was in the wrong place and left. The croaking was so loud and so right there. I went back to sleep after he left, that is until about 5AM this morning when the rooster decided it was time to crow and he hasn’t stop yet. Every minute it’s cock-a-doodle-do. Someone please shut that bird up.

Today, after I get dressed and eat, I’ll head into town to see what I can see. My blogs may be delayed because I’ll have to find the internet in town, but I’ll keep writing and photographing so you don’t miss a thing.

Thanks for being with me on my journey.

Much love,

Baby D in Bali