Thursday, 14 June 2012

Bali Day 3&4&5

The third day of Bali! We went snorkelling! It was my first time snorkelling and sadly I did not have the most stellar time. I'll put it down to spending a lot of time sitting on the boat instead of in the water because of an eyes & contacts not mixing well situation. When I was in the amazing blue clear water I did see tons of small darting fish and reefs.
Then we went on a couple of temple runs. The first was Bedugal. It's a garden with the actual temple parts on a lake. There were tons of tourists - some of the Indonesian ones asked for pictures together. Lots of frolicking was done in the garden section. Oh and shopping - outside were tons of souvenir areas.

Frolicking includes lots of picture taking if you didn't know

The second was Tanah Lot. It's a temple built on the very fringes of the beach in the water. During low tide you can go and walk next to the temple bits but during hig tide the water makes it impossible. We went during evening so we were able to walk and get on top of the rocks - the water still reached us though. It was incredibly beautiful especially during sunset. I could only imagine building it.

The next day was our beach day! We hadn't yet go a chance to just relax on the beaches of Bali. So we went to Dreamland the host moms escorted us this day. Dreamland is a hotel with a beach below it. It's small and a lot emptier than the Seminyak beach we went to later that evening because you have to pay to be lounging and tramping all through the hotel. It was ah-mazing. The water and sky were unreal colors. It's one of those places where you say Oh My I'm in paradise. Well I would say that about all of Bali but this beach was very awesome.

After many hours of lounging and adventuring on this beach we headed out to buy souvenirs! When I finally came out of my shopping daze I was astonished to see the amount of stuff I had gotten. It's not all for me though so I guess I am a generous shopper ...? Then we went on a driving tour of Bali. We saw some amazing hotels and some of the most popular clubs and shopping areas. Our driver was very informative. He had driven the prime minister of Thailand when Obama came to Bali and Julie Roberts when she was filming Eat, Pray, Love. He was also incredibly nice. We watched the sunset on a beach in Seminyak. Very different feel - a lot longer and less cliffy than Dreamland. The sand was also darker and finer - which reflected the colors of the sky really well. Dinner was Indian food there are great Indian restaurants in Bali just saying.

The next day we packed up and got on our plane back to Jawa and for me Jakarta. Bali was a most amazing trip and I would say absolutely go ther if you have the chance. As my host mom says 'You don't know really Indonesia until you go to Bali.' So yaaaaaay for Bali and host moms who take you there <3

Bali from the sky

Friday, 8 June 2012

Ulang Tahun SMAN 62 Jakarta

So I really have been to a lot of birthday's recently. This one was for my school's 30th birthday. They went all out - they apparently do every year. There were performances of all sorts, special guests, and even sponsors from stores and phone companies.
    I actually got to perform in my school's birthday. I did a traditional dance Tari Riau (from Riau) with my school's dance club. We have been studying for a while just so we could do this one show. So I arrived at 5 am and went straight into doing hair, makeup, and putting on the amazing costume. It included pants, a red tunic type shirt, a collar, a short piece of fabric around the waist secured by belt, and then the sarung we danced with. In our hair was one centered headpiece, a flower on one side, a chime type ornament on the other, and garlands of flowers hanging from the back.

Our group with our dance teacher

    Before we went on there was a group of traditional religious drummers and a lot of introduction. We were the first dance performance. When we finally got on stage the announcer asked me a couple of questions because well because I'm the foreigner in the school. It was a pretty good performance. There were a lot of cheers from the audience. There were a couple of mistakes - I know I made one really noticeable one but that is how dance performances go.

After our dance I was actually interviewed by two guys for some type of school media thing. Then was the complicated job of getting all the makeup and costumes off. The makeup was really hard to take off and in the end I had a ring of light colored makeup still along my hairline. The price of dancing a traditional dance where they use lots of makeup to make your skin lighter.
Then I was able to watch. There was an accapella group, the school's choir, a teacher student band. That's what the video is below.

This video is the acapella group

Tari Saman also performed and was great. I have so much respect for them as dancers. It's all from a sitting position but they have to move into different formations, the actual performance is 10 minutes and they have to sing.
Me with Tari Saman dancers
 There were 2 dance groups specializing in shuffling that performed.

This video is of the school's choir singing part of the national anthem Indonesia Raya. It's very long - I know only a few words.

Then beside student performances there were gift give aways - from the sponsers. There was a guest artist - Adera I believe. Everyone turned fangirlish and ran up and sat under the stage as he played his guitar and sang love songs. . .

Because music's so big in our school each grade had a band that played too.
12th grade

Then to end the very long event a reggae group Solja performed. Apparently the dancing went until 5 or 6 pm. I left to go home earlier because my family had other plans.

I absolutely loved this event and it puts any birthday celebration my american school has had to shame. I think they could learn a lesson from the awesomeness that is SMAN 62 Jakarta.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Bali: Day 1&2

At dinner. The only thing Bali about this pic is the flower in my hair that we were all given as we entered the restaurant
Best vacation ever. EVER. I really really appreciate my host mom for taking me there especially as she didn't have to. I might break this trip into days just because of the abundance of pictures.
The first day we got there we went straight out to explore. We first went to make some artwork in a studio. If people know Color Me Mine its the same idea - pick out a piece and paint it however you wish. We picked up our pieces on our last day. Great souvenir presents. I've missed being that kind of hands on creative.

After this we went to our first Hindu temple. Unlike The island of Jawa the majority of people in Bali are hindu. It's very interesting and leads to a different style of life. There are temples everywhere and offerings scattered among the streets and in nearly every shop, restaurant, hotel.

The first temple we went to was Ulawatu. You walk through down a path before you get to the cliffs with forests on both sides. And yes monkeys do live in these forests. One tried to steal my shiny Bali sandals.

It was our first look at the beach and ocean of Bali (besides the plane ride & landing).

Then we went to watch a fusion of traditional Balinese and Kecak dance. Because it was fusion there were less traditional elements. I absolutely loved it and wish I had another 7 months or so to learn Balinese dance here. Balinese dance is incredibly beautiful and complicated and well thought out and looks amazing when synchronized. There's intricate finger and eye movements and as a dancer and just a human being I am amazed and a bit envious. Kecak dance is done by males and is performed to communicate with the gods I'm told. I don't know much about it because they didn't really perform much of the traditional elements of it.

Look the eyes! the flexed feet! the fingers! the costumes!

She's cursed them up and after her exit they awaken and stab themselves repeatedly. Loved this storyline
For dinner we went to a restaurant on the beach. It was incredibly fun - it was really empty so we had the run of the place. All of us got up to dance when live musicians came to play for us. Awesome first day of Bali.
The second day our driver took us to Ubud which is a big cultural senter of Bali. We went to a silver shop first  and saw people crafting silver jewelry which we then had an oppurtunity to buy.

Then we drove towards the mountains. Yes there are mountains in Bali too.  And the usual sawahs - rice fields.

The particular area we were going to was Kintamani a mountain with a lake (Lake Batur) next to it.

Across the lake is a special burial area where people are not actually buried but lie on top of the ground as they decompose. The trees on the island somehow make the bodies not smell. You have to take a boat to get there.

Before you enter there's a plaque asking for those arrogant, angry or greedy not to go in for this ground is only for those who realize that they too will die. Very much like this.

There are 10 bodies above ground but under wooden structures surrounded by their possessions.

The ground is scattered with coins left by those who visit to honor the dead. Across the way lies skulls from bodies that had already decomposed completely. The special trees cover the island - huge. The place was far from what I had imagined. It was bright and I don't know ... welcoming maybe.
Crazy beautiful
The trees and the lake made it beautiful and the bodies and the message made it meaningful. Being among the dead has never been so comfortable. Comfortable enough that touching the skulls didn't seem gross or disrespectful - we asked first to though. It was interesting. I enjoyed our visit.

Coins & cigarettes as offerings
After this stop we went to an herb garden where they make kopi luwak. Kopi Luwak is a really special expensive coffee made from coffee beans that have been eaten, digested and errr pooped out by a luwak animal. Luwaks are incredibly cute.

And the coffee is very flavourful, the instant version which I've tried in restaurants in Jakarta is not half as good. In addition to kopi luwak we tried lemongrass tea, 'balicino' -the Balinese frappicino, ginger coffee.

Thumbs up for coffee

We also got to try a cocoa plant - the plant used to make chocolate.

It was all delicious!