Bali is known as the land of 1000 temples and yes there are beautiful, stone carved, moss covered temples in the jungle…. in fact everywhere. Most people have a private temple at home too, which makes for a grand street frontage.
I would add to the list-
The land of 1000 statues, the land of 1000 massage hawkers, sarong shops, resturants and Warung (food stalls) and the land of 1000 offerings.
Offerings are constantly being made by Balinese women. They consist of little woven leaf baskets filled invitingly with flowers (frangipani, my favourite), leaves, fruit, tiny morsels of cooked food, money and even cigarettes (unsmoked). Throughout the day they are left on steps, in doorways, on statues, in temples, on the dashboard of a car or taxi. They do fall over, get trodden on and wilt as the day goes on, but they are cleaned up and replaced so often you hardly notice. It provides a lovely backdrop to Bali, these tiny works of art.
Bali is mostly a Hindu country, unlike the rest of Indonesia which is largely Muslim and can be very disapproving of ‘lil old Bali with its liberal, laid back vibe.
Here we walked into a cremation ceremony, basically a huge fire in a carpark, with food tents set up for the mourners. There was a coffin on the fire, then this larger, fancier one was set alight. It was very relaxed and nobody minded us taking photos. The ashes are scattered out at sea.
Although tiny – you can drive around it in just 12 hours – Bali boasts the same population as New Zealand – 4 million. With the influx of tourists you would think it crowded, but with the exception of Kuta (the original surf town and manic tourist mecca) there is an un hurried feel here in Bali.
Ollie boogie boarding at Kuta Beach
Even with the thousands of motorbikes on the road and taxis, there is no stress, everyone is very laid back, happy and accepting of each other. I am beginning to think that ‘road rage’ is a kiwi invention only. People go about their business with respect for others. There is very little crime. We were stopped twice when out driving around the island by police on a routine check. Our driver smiled and tucked some money into his licence, handed it over and on we went.
We have stayed in Sanur Beach a beautiful 5km stretch of beach – reef protected – with a paved cycle/walkway running it’s length. This is lined with resturants and hotels, tables and sun loungers on the beach, flags, lanterns at night, coconut trees…..It is truly beautiful.
We are staying in a tropical garden with our own palace.
We swim in the pool and the sea, laze on sun loungers, have our room cleaned everyday by gentle smiling Balinese men. There is a huge buffet breakfast – Ollie needs to set his alarm so as not to miss this, even Charlie complained about it finishing as early as 10am….We are truly on “island time”.
I have been doing intensive research into Gado Gado, which is served everywhere and a divine, mostly raw, delicious protein-packed meal. It consists of a pile of raw veges, sometimes lightly steamed – cabbage, bean sprouts, green beans, tomatoes…..Then hunks of fried tempeh and tofu all covered with satay sauce. ($2.50-$5 NZ)
Otherwise it is a whole lot of tropical fruit – watermelon, papaya, pineapple, fresh juices -mango being a favourite of the boys.
It is the perfect temperature for me too, 25 degrees at night, about 30 in the day, boiling in the sun, but plenty of shade, cool drinks, air con and water to swim in. I love the night time culture. Ollie is in heaven too.
It is dark at 6.30pm every night with shops and resturants open until 11pm. Getting food at the night market is a delight, pancakes which can be filled with chocolate, banana, peanuts, cheese – and a mixture of them all.
This plate of vegetarian yumminess was only $1, so we ended up having 3!
I have been enjoying massages at the in-house spa here, a very unusual experience for me and one I could get used to. Although massages are available everywhere it is luxury to wander just a few paces to an open air pavilion next to the pool and for less than $10 get a massage. So far I have had a facial, a reflexology/foot massage, a Balinese full body massage and I am considering what to celebrate with tonight, our last night….A foot masage and pedicure perhaps?
Yep I went for the pedicure with flowers painted in my toenails.
Ollie had a back massage last night, a real treat for him as he is a very tactile person, touch is definitely his ‘love language’ and he often asks for a massage at home.
We had a big day out exploring, just the typical tourist trail but still a delight for us first-timers to Bali. We saw a traditional theatre performance, amazing costumes and masks with a full live gamelan orschestra. We visited a silver factory and saw silver being melted down and shaped before visiting a couple of silver shops.
A big highlight was the Monkey Sanctuary, near Ubud. The boys had monkeys climbing up their legs looking for bananas which we fed them. A gorgeous forest remnant, complete with a couple of temples, the monkeys roamed around, stealing water bottles, landing on people’s heads, looking cute and innocent for photos before grabbing the bananas on offer and scooting up a tree. Very cool.
For lunch we sat with ringside seats for viewing Kintamani, one of Bali’s volcanoes. Impressive lava flows from the last eruption, only 50 years ago….
We visited a coffee plantation. We really needed the absent coffee-drinkng members of our family, but after a tour of some cacao, nutmeg, coffee and other tropical trees we were treated to a range of different teas and coffees. Ollie stepped up to the tourist mark and he sampled the ‘most expensive coffee in the world’ – Luwak. This is made from cat poo…..literally!
The little wildcat ,the Civet, eats the coffee beans and a couple of days later they pass through him, still whole and are collected and dried. At this plantation they roasted their own beans in a wok over an open fire, and grind them in a large mortar.
Charlie having a go at roasting coffee beans.
Really interesting to see coffee growing and the whole process, even though I don’t partake myself. And yes Ollie was still buzzing later that night……
Gunung Kawi is a huge old temple in the jungle, down many steps. Large rock carvings are very innvocative of Indiana Jones. Women go to the temple in the afternoons to make offerings, and here they were incredible.
We crossed the river, enjoyed the peace of the jungle and the serenity of the rice paddies everywhere. Rice is harvested three times a year, a huge amount of back breaking work. As we drove home through the gathering dusk there were two women sitting next to their families rice fields with a mini altar of offerings.
They were praying for a good harvest, a good price and an easy time.
I think that is Bali for us. A good price and an easy time….
It is an island that has offered us 1000 blessings which we have gratefully recieved.