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!

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