The sail over to Bali was short but felt very long. We had little to no wind the entire trip so we motored most of the way. We have been having many difficulties with our generator so we had to leave Darwin six hours after the rest of the fleet. The best part about the trip was that both Shadow and I celebrated our birthdays on this trip, September 6th and 8th respectively. Since we still are a day ahead of America, Shadow and I decided that we would celebrate both days. So we basically had four days of birthdays on the boat on the way to Bali. Britt baked two cakes, gave us multiple gifts and even sent me on a scavenger hunt around the boat for one of my gifts (which happened to be my husband with a bow on his forehead)! It was a bunch of silly fun!!!
The problem with writing a blog while you sail around the world is you just keep thinking that the next place could not possibly be better than all of the other amazing places that you have visited. Well, Mark and I have decided that Bali is now our favorite destination and hopefully we can adequately describe why.
First, Bali is part of Indonesia which is the fourth most populous country in the world. Our tour guide told us that Bali has almost four million people. Although the majority of Indonesia is Muslim, Bali is 97% Hindu. We spent much time learning about the Hindu religion while here. Because of the Hindu belief in karma, they are very kind and doing anything wrong will result in bad karma for them. Thus, everyone is friendly, helpful and kind. Although we have remarked before at the kindness of so many people we have met along the way, Bali seems to be brimming with people who are warm and friendly. Many people spoke enough English where we could communicate easily but mostly natives speak a mix of Balinese and Indonesian. Bali is an incredibly talented territory. Store after store were filled with word carvings, stone carvings, metalwork, sculptures, paintings, etc. The architecture was particularly striking with temples wherever you went. Families would live in compounds with different small buildings each serving a purpose - kitchen, bedroom, communal area, etc. Each compound also had its own temple and these temples were quite elaborate.
Our first night in Bali, a group of us went into Sanur (a local town) for dinner. We were told there were fantastic restaurants on the beach. There were eleven of us and we found a taxi driver who told us he could take all of us in the same car. The car was a minivan with nothing in the back except a very small bench around the entire back. All eleven of us piled in and we quickly began calling it the clown bus. We found a fantastic restaurant on the beach with a small band. Mark and I danced (they even played "At Last" for us). The most amazing part was that the meals were so reasonably priced. I had a surf and turf dinner the equivalent of $13 US dollars. The food was delicious.
The money (called the rupiah) is quite interesting. 50,000 rupiah is the equivalent of $5. When I checked out of the grocery store it was a bit disturbing to hear the cashier as for 3 million rupiah. We all had difficulty figuring out how easily count or understand the prices. Many times the last three zeros would be left off the prices and other times they weren't. I kept using my finger to move over four decimal points on the money to figure out how much each was. For some reason we had the hardest time with the money here. But the blessing was that everything was incredibly inexpensive, except for alcohol.
Our next major trip around Bali was a full day tour on a bus. We started by visiting the village of Celuk to see a silver shop. The intricate silver work was striking. We then went to the village of Mas to see a wood working shop. The carvings were again so intricate. Mark picked out a statue in the shop of Rama and Sita which is a Balinese version of Romeo and Juliet. After some negotiating (all the prices in Bali can be negotiated), we left with a beautiful memento of Bali.
Our next stop was one of two temples that we visited that day (Goa Gajah Temple and Pura Gunung Kawi Temple). These temples were amazing. In respect of the Hindu religion, we all had to wear a sarong if we did not have clothing that covered our knees. So basically all of us ended up with sarongs, including the men. This is now the second time that Mark has worn a skirt on the trip. At the second temple, Mark did get by with pulling down his short a little to cover his legs but still was required to wear a sash around his waist.
The temples breathe taking. The statues and stone structures were immense. Everywhere you turned there were small offering in front of the small shrines within the temples. In one temple, we entered a cave which smelled on incense and had carved alters in the stone which were filled with offerings. The entire area around the temples was so well manicured. Both temples had springs with holy water where people could bathe in the holy water. It was a very common practice.
Each village we passed as we went on the tour was ornately decorated. We took so many pictures from the bus because everywhere we turned there were beautiful stone carvings, temples, and stores filled with the work of the many artisans in Bali. There was just so much to see around you at all times.
We ate lunch in a restaurant overlooking Mount Batur. It is a volcano which last erupted in 2000. The view was magnificent. The food was a huge buffet. Mark and I are now very accustomed to eating things and not knowing anything about what it is. For those who know me, this has been a miraculous transition. We did have yellow watermelon for dessert. The fruit is plentiful in Bali. We also ate a lot of soy products, one of which was called tempe.
We passed rice fields on the way to Ubud which is an incredibly bustling village in the middle of Bali. Right before Ubud we also visited the Monkey Forest. You had to see it to believe it. As I was sitting on a bench I had a rather small monkey jump onto my shoulder. He was happily sitting there eating a banana. I was so distracted by the monkey that I didn't see another monkey starting to go through my purse on the ground. I began to wonder how often they practiced this move. I'm not sure what he was looking for in my purse but I surely wasn't carrying a bunch of bananas.
At Britt's suggestion, Mark and I departed the bus and stayed overnight in Ubud. Britt had helped make reservations for us at a place called Arjana Bungalows II. The place we stayed was literally in the middle of a rice patty. It was a beautiful room in a villa and we paid the equivalent of $35 to stay there. Our room was surrounded by windows so that we could see the rice paddies from everywhere in the room. Despite being a ten minute walk from the center of town, the area was quiet, peaceful and felt very spiritual. We went into the center of town (a short 10 minute walk) to a restaurant called Nomad for dinner. We ate very traditional Balinese food that night. Mark and I shared a dish of twelve different tapas style meals. I cannot begin to describe them all but let's just say they were delicious.
The next morning we went into town to look around. We were very intrigued by a type of spa pedicure you could get in town with garra rufa fish. Apparently, these fish feast on the dead skin cells on your body. You drop your feet into a tank of the fish and have them nip at you for about twenty minutes. It feels a bit funny but both Mark and I couldn't resist giving it a try. I stayed in Ubud that afternoon for a massage at the Ubud Health Resort and Spa while Mark went back to the boat to get some work done. I had an amazing one hour massage with all sorts of extras - a sit in a steam room and a cool down in a cold water Jacuzzi while drinking a delicious cup of ginger tea. I was there for about two hours and it cost the equivalent of $16. Wow!
The rest of our time in Bali was spent getting work done on our boat. Our generator is fixed which is a relief because we were told that it might not be fixable. We certainly didn't want to have to spend the money on a new generator. We are having some issues with the charging of our batteries also. Mark has been working diligently on this but so far has not found a solution. We do feel confident that the boat is in the best shape possible as we leave Bali for the trip across the Indian Ocean. We are also extremely grateful to Britt and Shadow for making this trip with us.
The next several months we will spend much of our time on the ocean. Although we have stops in Cocos Keeling, Mauritius, Reunion, Richard's Bay these stops will be brief with long periods of sailing in between. We should arrive in Cape Town in the beginning of December where we can celebrate crossing the Indian Ocean. Another amazing achievement!!!