Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bali... Bali... Bali...

Who saw The Bucket List? Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman leave town for a last hurrah. Jack brings his Admin, who schleps an espresso machine and Jack's special blend of coffee. Yeah, you remember, so hold that thought.

Our China trip became our Bali trip shortly after some friends gave rave reviews of their trip into Indonesia. The flight was uneventful, but our luggage was strapped with security tape in Jakarta and we went through security so many times, I ran out of fingers.

Then we arrived at our villa and this was part of my welcome. Those are rose petals floating in a bubble bath. Not too shabby.

I always say that being on vacation with Allan is like marching across Europe with General Patton. He tends to be a man on a mission, so when he said this would be a relaxing vacation, I admit I was skeptical. But on our first day, not only did we not leave the villa, but a massage therapist stopped by to give me a massage and facial.

It wasn't necessary to go out for food, oh no. Our butler gave our personal chef instructions of what and when we would eat. Then our driver took us where we wanted to go. The driver was a necessity. You do NOT want to drive in Indonesia. There is no speed limit, and there are 10 motorcycles for every car, and there are three lanes of cars on a two lane road (one row drives on the center line).

This rice paddy was on the road to Tulamben, where we dove the U.S.S. Liberty. The Japanese torpedoed the ship in 1943, and when the crew couldn't pump the water out fast enough to save it, they ran it up on shore. It shifted during a volcano eruption in the 70s, and now is 40 meters offshore. We dove a wall also and went down to 30 meters, but didn't see the bottom.

On the ride back, we stopped so that Welmoad and Michel, a very interesting couple from The Netherlands could buy a small sculpture made from black stone mined at volcanoes. Good souvenir. Allan is helping them pick it out.

We saw no other Americans in Indonesia (plenty of Australians), but English was spoken everywhere. Also on the dive trip, we met a British soldier and his wife, as well as a couple from Kazahkstan.

Above is a private Hindu Temple in Ubud. I don't think you can own a temple, but I suppose you can build one next to your house. On many corners, there are small temples where people make offerings twice daily. This country is full of small cardboard trays with rice and flowers.

When I first saw these two men, I thought they were relaxing and chatting. They are in fact, hand stitching shoes. I bought three pair of shoes in Bali for under $20. Not each - three pair for under $20.

There were plenty of bargains to be had, but I never get to spend as much time as I need. Allan's an old fuddy-duddy, and he makes me stop before I've run out of money!

We found a open air restaurant, and stopped for a beer and a nosh. I just love the dress here. All the servers (male and female) wore sarong skirts. I have to have one. To go with my new Bali shoes, of course.

Bali is a poor country. The roads are full of potholes, the sidewalks are cracked, buildings are dilapidated, but I noticed that there were no old cars anywhere. All the cars on the road were very new. I suppose that very few people privately own cars, they ride motorcycles. Then we saw this - a 1963 Chevy Impala.

We just had that one day in Ubud, but if you go to Bali, it's worth a little more time.

Bali is 90% Hindu, so it's people are pacifists, unlike a lot of Indonesia, which has a larger Moslem population.

Here Allan and I are with a performer from the Barong dance, based on a Hindu story about the struggle between good and evil. The play is performed every day at 9:00 AM, so you can stop by any day. The stands were packed.

I'm happy to report that peace and order win out over chaos and evil. The band accompanied with drums and wooden flutes.

One of these (below) is the devil. Can you guess which?

After the show, we took a ride to the top of a volcano. During the ride we were pulled over by the police. We were warned that we might get stopped, but bribe money was ready. It's cheaper to pay a bribe than registration.

Close to the top, we stopped for a little roadside shopping overlooking more rice paddies. At the top, we had a buffet lunch with a great view.

There's a lake at the far side of the volcano's center. We didn't get to ride over, or take the boat across. Katut, our driver said the road was worse than average and the boat was not running.

What better way to follow lunch than with some gourmet coffee? We did that at a coffee plantation.

Ah, now the end of the story... Jack finds out the process used for making his coffee. A small animal called a luwac ingests the bean. It is marinated in the animal's digestive system and then released covered in luwac poop.

The beans are collected, cleaned and roasted in the traditional way, shown here.

After a short tour, we were given a flight of coffees (hot chocolate for me). Allan tasted several varieties other than luwac, which we purchased as gifts. And yes, he paid $35 for 100 grams (about 4 ozs.) of luwac to try at the office.

It wasn't a big hit.

We stopped here at my insistence. I had to have a picture of the furniture at this shop. I'm sure this is where I lost my glasses.

Most wooden items in Bali were carved deities, animals - mythical and otherwise, and oddly I thought, the male copulatory and urinary organ in a variety of sizes.

Another stop put us at the beach, where locals had shops selling souvenir shirts, hats, more shoes and the usual tourist stuff.

All that walking made us hungry.

This was dinner out. I like the cuisine in Indonesia, the spices and flavorings. But I got really tired of fileting my own fish. I carefully separated the bones, but most bites I ended up with at least one in my mouth. But the drinks were good!

This is Taneh Lot, a temple built on rock about 100 meters off shore. During high tide, it's surrounded by water. We visited in the afternoon, during low tide, like all the tourists.

To reach the temple, you pass dozens of... you guessed it, souvenir shops. We reached the Holy Spring, but people weren't touching the water, which surprised me a little. (Don't you need to touch it for affect?)

We couldn't walk up these steps, but we walked pretty much around the structure. Then up some steps nearby for some rest and relaxation, and some people watching.

We stayed right here until sundown to get a nice shop of the temple with the sun setting behind it. And the beer (Bientang - the local brew) wasn't bad either.

These two were interesting - monk photographers. One spent a little time doing glamour shots for a western woman in jeans and a pink shirt. Allan and I had fun speculating about that threesome.

Though we had most of our meals by the pool at the villa, we always have one dinner at a nice restaurant, so we ate outside at one called the Living Room.

The last full day we did some horseback riding. Indonesian horses are a smaller breed than we're used to, but they didn't have any trouble carrying the two big Americans along the beach on the Java Sea.

I had another massage the morning we left, this time with a body scrub and a bubble bath. It's a pretty great way to end a week in Bali. I could go back. Wanna come?

No comments:

Post a Comment