BALI ~ it's all about RICE
The first time we saw Bali was in September of 08 with the Sail Indonesia Rally. We really weren't attending many of the rally functions and had taken our own Southern "surf" route there, putting us at the far end of the island from the the rest of the rally boats. Three weeks minus our 5 day trip to Java didn't help to get a full picture of the island. We were fascinated with it. Bali is so different than other places we have ever visited. For me, Judy, I was enthralled. It is a magical place. I'd go back anytime and stay as long as I could. Dave was intrigued (my interpretation...) with the culture and thought there would be good material for watercolor painting. That made it very easy for us to go back. We realize that this journal is coming out of chronological order but we feel compelled to write while the vivid experiences are fresh in our memories.
Bali is ALL about rice, flowers, incense, offerings, ceremony, decorations, festivals, worshiping, volcanoes, beaches and jungle. What a place! It's not easy to explain until you feel it yourself. It's a huge bonanza of explosive sights, smells, tastes and texture.
We divided our stay into 3 destinations.
First, we stayed up in the far northeastern coast at the "Boutique" Poinciana Resort. Dave found it on the internet. It was over our budget but then Nyoman, the owner manager, negotiated with Dave to extend our visit to 10 days bringing the price down. It
was so well worth every dime of it. If we could, we would LIVE THERE!!!!!!! Her staff was incredible. We have never felt so pampered in all our lives.
She lent us her motor scooter and off we went exploring that section of the island. She showed us property to invest in or build our dream house on. They fed us tasty breakfasts every morning out on our idyllic deck hanging out over the beach. Heaven!! See if Davey's watercolors
don't convey the loveliness of the location. We were sad to leave. If we hadn't wanted to
see more of the island we would have been content to stay there the whole time...or forever...
Next, we went back to the center of the island where we went with Robin and Eric from the yacht Scorpido last time for 3 days. Lihat Saweh, a "pondok wisata" (homestay) in Sideman. The views of the rice fields hills are stunning. This family owned business started very small built up through the years. The owners, Nyoman, Made and their 3 children have been renting rooms, (now separate bungalows) to visitors for years. Before the crisis (Bali bombing) Made used to sell 800 or so Sonkat or Ikat weaving a month. Now that business is so much smaller, but still as enticing as ever. Sonkat has woven gold or silver threads into the pattern. Very exquisite. I drooled over several pieces but just couldn't choose one . Hard to wear gold on a sailboat. I did succumb to some gorgeous cotton woven fabric though from the village... Saving it for later!
Once again we were out on another motor scooter up & down the roads visiting the local temples. In Bali, every family has a temple in their yard in addition to the Village temple. Next to our bungalow at the home stay was the family's temple where various members of the family & staff came at least 3 times a day making offerings, lighting incense, and worshiping. They truly practice and live their faith. It is inspiring.
Dave couldn't paint enough! There wasn't enough time in the day. A few days were rainy or maybe a bit dark or overcast and that was a trial for him. We didn't want to leave here either. We could have stayed.
We saved the best for last ~ UBUD, the cultural heart of the country. Here is where most of the artists, craftsman, entertainers, gourmets, healers, estheticians, the very soul of Bali, live & work. We were booked into Nick's Hidden Cottages off a dirt lane almost moated in a rice paddy. We stayed 2 nights and then moved to Nicks Pension, their other location. This place was unbelievable. Luckily, we were able to get one of the private bungalows right on the edge of a river gorge. We had full exposure to the water, the foliage that hung down from across on the other side into the gorge, the tiny footbridge spanning the river, the sound of the water rushing down into the gorge, Plus, a bird's eye view of the small temple across the river where many devotee's brought their offerings every day.
Nick Pension (our Bungalow)
Bali, Land of Temples
Firewood for cooking
It was a tranquil piece of paradise to sit outside on the veranda, read, paint, write, email. Our morning tea (coffee for some) was absolutely riveting. We had fluorescent Kingfishers, white egrets, lots of frogs. Come nightfall, first the darting swallows followed by the swooping bats. Pretty hard to beat that.
Well, except if you're a water guy and need the
surf. So, Dave hired a driver. That's so hilarious because you almost can't drive your own car in the busy city areas. I went to a healer for the day & he to the beach. The drive to the beach
was a fair bit away along a windy hard to follow
route. There was no place really to stay in the area & not the right time of the year, so surfing was out. Bali does have surf down in Kuta though, albeit it is so crowded touristy that Dave didn't want any part of that. Sorry, maybe on our next visit???
Ubud is the place in Bali where we ate everything we could find that was as close to home as we could get. They have many tasty restaurants. Other than when i got super sick (me ~ Typhoid Fever w/Ecoli) along with the emergency visit from the
doctor to the room, we did great. Dave had a touch of it, so we medicated him just in case.
The Taste of Bali
I tried hard to get a few clothing items made in Bali, but all in all, mostly just enjoyed our visit there without much shopping, except for my kabaya. I found the see-through cream almost net like fabric with some embroidered flower patterns with sequins!!!! in the market. Then went walking the streets looking for a tailor ~ kabaya's are fitted you know. At one small family run shop, everyone got into the act of helping me, especially the mother of the two daughters with specific instructions from her mother! She loaded me, my material onto her motor scooter and off we roared to the first shop. That woman was gone, so we raced to another location. There were 6 women packed into an addition to the house/garage?, all with sewing machines going like lightening. I was measured and out the door in seconds. For $10 big ones, I had it delivered by my new found friend, Dayu, in less than 2 days. Am I lucky or what???? Now all I need is some fruit in a basket on my head with runway modeling/walking instructions.
Dave, Guide & Nyomen
A highlight for us was taking a river rafting excursion one bright sunny morning. How fun was that? Just 7 of us in a river raft. A newly wed couple from Jakarta and two
of their brides maids. They were giddy. Along the way we saw a whole crew of stone carvers, carving Hindu reliefs into the river rocks. AMAZING! If you didn't look closely at how these guys were dressed, it would take you as far back as to the days of building the pyramids or something.
No visit to Ubud is complete without attending the culltural events. We had seen the "Barong Dance" and the "Kecak" on our first
visit so this time we went to the "Legong" performance. Just listening to the Gamelan orchestra is a special treat, but then you
get to see the performers in full dress regalia along with the most bizarre dancing ~ ever. Mind boggling
I took full advantage of the "spa" just across the foot bridge & up the huge stone steps. I had 3 types of Bali hair conditioning's ~ each one
pressing the natural conditioner into my scalp with a super strong thumb, 2 kinds of therapeutic massages (one with dripping hot oil onto my forehead). Different. I really hated to leave that behind for sure. Most of these events that we did here are affordable, unlike Thailand, where we couldn't do as much as we would have liked. Dave was content to paint so that worked out cheerfully for both of us.
Dave's fondest memory of Bali is sitting on the front porch at Nick's pension painting with the jungle bursting all
Mine is watching the women walking to the temple with their piled high offering balanced expertly on their heads in all their finery gliding down the streets. Women in Bali are the real workers. From morning till dark they are hard at it. They carry the heaviest loads imaginable. My respect goes out to their determination & spirit.
About the rice thing. Well. Nyoman told me, that Balinese culture revolves around the rice crop. It's their main food at every meal. The rice crop is what sustains EVERYONE. Offerings are given to it, for it. Ceremonies use it, it's put between their eyes at temple. It's on every piece of offering given at every door, intersection, bridge, yard, business, temple, 3+ times of day. They mean it too.
We'll be Bali dreaming for some time to come.
In he meanwhile it's on down to Penang to meet up with those Canadian Travelers Scott, Nancy & their new son Sebastian for a visit. OH boy oh boy!!!