Saturday, November 10, 2012

Indonesia - Adventure Doolie / Sanders 2012 - Bali

25 Oct – Our holiday begins.

(First let me say – it would be unlikely we will ever fly Jet Star again. Our flights were changed several times before we left to the point we had to change our hotel plans to ensure we caught the new flight, which took us back to Singapore before heading to Melbourne.)

Our Hobart to Sydney flight was delayed (no big surprise to us) which meant we raced through Sydney airport to catch our connecting flight (which meant no duty free for us - Waahhhh!!)  We arrived around 8:00 pm in Denpasar Bali, and asked our driver to stop at a liquor store on our way to the villa. My eyes widened considerably when I bought a bottle of gin for a whopping $67. Yikes!

We felt considerably better when we arrived at Beji Suri in the warm evening to the sight of a beautifully lit pool and our friends Tim and Gretchen greeted us with a chilled rum and coke - and pizza - thank goodness.  We chatted away until the wee hours.  I especially like the outdoor bathroom! 

26 Oct

Wayan cooks our wonderful breakfasts
Day 1 Drank coffee on our patio enjoying the rice paddies across the creek, the tropical trees and birds and the crow of the roosters, when a parade of people arrived to set our table and bring our fantastic breakfasts.  
We lounged around - then organised ourselves to go into Ubud.  We gave ourselves 3 hours to wander and get a feel for the city.  We were dropped at the Monkey forest, and sure enough - there were little monkeys outside the gate.  And a little man was running around with a slingshot to keep them in line.

Lobster Salad
We wandered down Monkey forest road, amongst shop after shop of Balinese carvings, colourful sarongs & jewellery. Ok it was all very touristy, crooked streets, with tiled sidewalks in need of repair, and the heat and humidity was really starting to get to us. Our escape plan was a leisurely lunch, at Café Wayan and Bakery, (Lobster salad) then home for a swim, and cocktail.  
Let me note here - there are several people male and female who have the same name as the traditional names indicate where you are born in a family. So we have our Wayan at the Villa (which means first born) who is a beautiful Balinese lady who cooks like an angel. We also had Wayan the stone carver who was our driver a few times.
Coconut drinks anyone?
Add some Rum to the Coconut
Graham asked Ketut if he could pick up some coconuts for us during the day. When we came home, there they were. He asked for a machete and our groundsman came and chopped the first 4 so we could make coconut & rum drinks.  He's a smarty isn't he?  The villa staff came back with sugar syrup staws and spoons to scrape out the flesh when we were done. They always anticipated our needs. It was a fun event for all of us as both the staff and we watched the coconuts get chopped up. 

A drink and a dip saw us heading back to town to Pundi Pundi for dinner around 7 then home for a nightcap and dip. 

Oct 27
Early in the morning we relaxed in bed listening to what sounds like many dozens of roosters. Not the gentle crooning of cock-a-doodle-doo which I recall from our cruising days, more like a screaming of it as if the roosters were shouting at the very top of their lungs. Yesterday morning was remarkably quiet after our first night (as they starting in the wee hours of the morning) of this noise - we think it's because they practice cock fighting here, and we were told last night was a fight night. It's interesting to be serenaded by the frogs & birds etc...

We had a lizard swimming across our pool, which we think is fantastic. The accommodation is divine and food here has been terrific.  So far all is good.  Saw some monkeys yesterday (other than Graham and Tim).

We went to the grocery store “Coco’s” yesterday where we saw people harvesting rice from a field tucked between the grocery store and the shop next to it. No wasted space here.
Rice being harvested from a vacant lot. Down town Ubud.

Spa Day 

Gretchen and I had a Spa Day and convinced the boys to join us for at least a one and a half hour massage. Tim was reluctant but was willing to give it a go as Graham related his experience in Thailand was a good one.  We selected Eve Spa.

Gretchen and I were in rooms beside each other for our Spa Adventure as we started off with our husbands in our rooms with us. Tim had never had a massage before, and was quite disconcerted to have a male masseuse. He told us what kept him entertained during his massage, was when he realized Gretchen was going to have to turn over in front of both him and the male masseuse at some point. I'm sure it was all managed very discretely. When their massage was over, the boys bolted.

Our Spa experience was nowhere near completed and let me just say, five hours is a looong time in a Spa. We had a massage, a body scrub, then our respective masseuse showered us to get the scrub off, then smeared our bodies with yogurt and washed us again. Then they invited us to slide into a bath with frangipanis and flower petals floating on the top and brought us ginger tea to sip on. After bath time my girl, who’s English wasn’t all that good, invited me to have a shower, indicated I should get back on the table, and was quite specific about me using a particular towel to dry off.  So I dutifully showered up and got back on the table, in my new package of little disposable massage panties and lay there on my back and waited and waited. Finally there was a knock on the door, and much to my surprise, to my cheery “OK” - Gretchen appeared!  She tells me she saw more of me than she ever wanted to but recovered quickly saying – “What are you doing?  Put your clothes on, we’re getting our facial here”. Ooops, my girl neglected to tell me to get dressed, or what was next, however I managed to get dressed and look nonchalant in record time.  I’m not sure who was more startled, me or Gretch.  I kept cracking my face mask chuckling about it.

Next was lunch, then a manicure and pedicure and a hair conditioning massage.  I was squeaky clean from head to toe. The boys arrived back to get us just as we were finished, luckily for me as the spa didn’t take Visa. 

I raided Graham’s pockets, and we stopped on the way back to the Villa to see Wayan's home, which is where his whole family lives.  Wayan is the stone carver who had driven us from the airport. We met his family and watched them at work. Wayan even asked his Grandma to show Gretchen and I how to make the little offering baskets.  Gretchen was a natural at this palm frond origami, however my fumbling antics had Granny and Wayan in stitches.

We arrived back to the villa with just enough time to get ready for the Village ceremony.

Taking Part in the Village Ceremony 

This ceremony happens every six months but unfortunately I never did find out what it was called. The villagers make offerings at the Temple, by the water, however we took part in the large procession going to the temple, with more and more people joining along the way. This particular ceremony lasts 3 days, however we were hugely honoured to be invited to take part in the beginning. 
Ready for the Village Ceremony

Ketut and our Wayan brought us Sarongs to wear, put them on us correctly, then they were satisfied we were appropriately dressed, Ketut lead us along the roads to the local temple. Time is a bit fluid here, so while we expected this to start early, we ended up hanging around for an hour or so, overdressed for the heat with a sarong over our pants, but we chatted with the locals, (we were the only Westerners as this is a village ceremony which occurs every 6 months) and shared a million smiles. It was sooo hot.  The women arrived dressed in their finest, lace tops and sarongs, with offerings they balanced easily on their heads. The men also dressed in their best, and much to my delight we had a band (of drums and gongs of assorted tones) and Barong creatures, which are a lion like mythical creature – the King of the spirits.
Beautifully dressed Ladies

Do you think we blend in?

The Parade

Finally the ceremony started, and away we went, stopping traffic as we shuffled down the narrow village streets with crumbling curbs over deep sewage trenches with most of the roads in ill repair.  People joined our little procession as we passed their homes, or street corners. We wandered past home compounds most with ornate gates, and a dog or two, which barked or howled its opinion as we passed by. Some of the home compounds I could see into looked quite fancy, and some were plain, but all were set amongst palm trees and the neighbourhood was dotted every now and again with tiny shop. Soon we were in rice paddies, and dropped down to the river where the water temple lay.  
Offerings balanced

A Barong

Tim and Gretchen blending in

The band
Tim, Wayan, Ketut, Graham

And more people just kept coming...

Almost there

It was set up for this 3 day event, with people working braziers, cooking sates and corn on the cob, little stalls selling trinkets, lollies and water and people everywhere either waiting to go into the temple to make their offerings or hanging around after.  They sat under a huge thatched roof segmented into 3 - one where another band was playing, one set up for cock fighting which would happen in the coming days, and one which at this point was empty. People sat on any ledge they could find or the ground.

Going into the temple with offerings
The offering tables inside the temple

A Barong up close

A Barong

Ceremonial Figures
Inside the temple were high platforms where people placed their offerings. Everyone and everything was so intensely colourful, it was beautiful. The giant Baron creatures (Much like the Chinese Dragons only with a Balinese flavour) were there, as the elders prayed, and little children poked their heads enquiringly under the dragon costumes, as children do.
What's going on in there?? 
Once the offerings were officially taken into the inner sanctum of the temple, we went down to the river, where  there was another smaller temple, and a small group of concrete squares with spigots sticking out.  

Water Temple down by the River
Our host Ketut told us to drink 3 times then sluice the water over our heads, assuring us the water was OK.  Which of course, only I believed.  Graham looked at me and asked - you didn't really drink the water did you??  I blinked as I realised the others had politely faked the actual drinking part. Tsk….  In my defence, It was hot as a fire cracker, and I'm trusting… what can I say. However, I have had my Typhoid shot and have faith (and a back up of pills if all goes wrong).

Graham's back started to twinge it's discomfort from the shuffling walk down, so we headed back to the villa, had a dip in the pool and a drink or two, and laughed a lot about the insanity of my sipping the water with all three speculating at what time tomorrow or the coming days - the spigot lurgy would appear.  Then we headed out to dinner. Graham assured me I could eat or drink anything without fear after the spigot.

Oct 28 - Road Trip

We started off watching squirrels flying from tree to tree across the stream, while we sipped coffee before our Breakfast Parade arrived. Wayan and Ketut and our groundsman arrive every morning, set the table, then the three of them come with trays plied high with fresh juice and whatever wonderful dish we have chosen the night before. The cooking has been better than any restaurant we've been to so far.

Today we went on our road trip with our driver Karek, I could only remember this by thinking it rhymed with Eric. He spoke and understood English quite well and had a good sense of humour. We were in fine form and set off. Our plan was to head first to Ulun Danu Temple of Beratan on Lake Bedugul

Lemur coffee 

On the way we stopped at an ATM and Karek asked if we wanted to try Limur coffee.  We had been treated with this by some dear friends in the past, but couldn't resist the chance to see the animal in the flesh. We walked through a plantation with all kinds of plants and trees on display, from Cinnamon to cocoa and all sorts of exotic things. 

We ended up in a little tasting area, a thatched roof over a high table and bench seating on each side. The girl came out and made a cup of each flavour of tea and coffee, (they even had a taster of tobacco, which Graham rolled up and puffed on) so we tasted them all. We saw them roast the Lemur coffee beans (which are really a coffee berry the Lemur eat, then poop out, which they then clean up and roast) over a fire, then grind them with a giant mortar and pestle, before sifting the coffee - all very interesting. Of course we bought some coffee (Ginger not Lemur) and set off again.

We soon arrived at the temple, and botanical gardens. 

Jumping off a monument
If he can jump - so can we

The grounds were lovely but also rather like Flinstone village, in that kind of amusement park theme which we found a bit surprising. They had large statues of cartoon like animals, and even an aviary of exotic birds, which for a fee - you could hold. 

We had a buffet lunch up the road, then went to the tiered rice fields. 
beautiful rice paddies
Tim and Gretchen

The rains fall

These were lush, and extremely beautiful. The weather turned and the skies opened which put a kibosh on our plans to go to another temple for an outdoor dance and fire dance, and the on the beach sea food dinner we'd planed. We turned around, and headed home going through the artisan villages along the way. Gretchen did quite well on some silver in Celuk. We were happy enough to order in, and sit by the pool.

October 29th, Artisan Day - As usual, we woke up around 5;30 to the chorus of roosters, birds and dog, had a dip in the pool, and our coffee on the patio watching the antics of the squirrels in the treetops. Like clockwork, our breakfast parade arrived and we enjoyed a lovely meal then headed out to our classes.  Just before we left, Gretchen presented them with gifts and a thank you card as we thought Wayen was going to hospital the next day and we wouldn’t see her. They were delighted!!
Artisan Day
Our regular driver was unavailable, so we had another relative Wayan who had a van with little to no clutch and little English.  This caused much discussion between Graham and Tim, however Gretchen and I were happy to get to our silver class, and send them on their way.  
We were greeted with cool water then our designs were put to paper and adhered to a piece of silver. They drilled a tiny hold in each area we wanted to cut out for internal shapes, and we were shown how to use a hacksaw to cut our shapes.  My helper just took over after I'd broken the 3rd blade, and re shaped my paw pads. 
I wanted to write Elwood on it, and had traced it out - but he came back with pre shaped letters, which he positioned them and stamped them on. I think he thought I was writing someone's name - EL  WOOD, as that's how letters read.  I really wanted to feel more involved, as I was supposed to be making this- so I told him I wanted to do it on the back.  We wrestled for placement on each letter and I whacked them in. I think to ensure I used what he thought was the ‘correct side’ he put the sterling silver stamp on my side.  It was funny. But it looks good.
He snipped the outer shape, attached a ring put it on a silk rope and I was done.  It as fairly quick as they did most of the work, so for me it wasn't what I expected. I would have liked to do more myself.  
However, Gretchen had more action with hers until lots of people came to the studio, then the owner took over her piece, and we watched him finish it.  Graham drew a design for her, and between the 3 of them (Graham, Gretchen and the Owner) it turned out absolutely beautiful!

Gretch and I then walked into town (a considerable distance) and wandered for 3 hours. We were exhausted and had 30 minutes until pick up time.  We just stopped to buy a water, and take some photos of monkeys running around on Electricity wires when Tim popped across the road. Sweat dribbling down me, totally dehydrated, we were delighted to see him and grateful to hear they'd been looking for us for ages, having gone to the silver place and missed us.
They told us about their training adventure at the glass blowers.  They arrived, to find there had been a mistake in the day, so Graham raced out to catch their ride, before he left and as he stepped through the door, he glanced at his watch and his foot caught a low lying Styrofoam plank with about 3 dozen hand blown drinking glasses on it. Graham looked down in disbelief unable to do anything as he watch in slow motion as they toppled. Luckily only 3 were broken, and the "you break them you buy them" rule kicked in.   As he said, rather $18. for 3 glasses - than it being a shelf of ridiculously priced art pieces.  Needless to say, they paid the bill, and bolted and came home to sit by the pool and have a few beers. We all cracked up, as they told their story, as the looks on their faces told us more than mere words.

After a refreshing dip, we tidied ourselves up and headed into the Lotus Cafe for dinner - their seafood special for two - all very nice, and reasonably priced (drinks were a tad pricey) - then went to see the Kacak Ramayana and fire dance by the Krama Desa Ubud Kaja. It was Great. The chanting, the costumes, the acting all by firelight was terrific, then the fire dance where a man in a bird suit danced, running and scuffing his way through coconut husk coals, which scattered into the audience causing much oohs and awes, over and over. All very impressive.
Tomorrow is our last full day here, our plan is to have a down time day today. hmmm we'll see. 
Oct 30 – After another great breakfast we headed into the Monkey forest as we were told to go early before the monkeys get mean.  We bought our obligatory bananas and Graham picked up a stick (A tip from one of our drivers). 

Graham lays down the law!

Whispering sweet nothings....

Monkey on your back?

 The stick worked really well, he’d tap it on the ground when any monkeys got a bit aggressive and they’d settle immediately. (It would appear someone’s been tapping the monkeys in the past). 
which is monkey which is devil?

which is monkey which is devil?

The monkey forest has 3 temples and a grave yard. It’s a beautiful walk in it’s own right. We enjoyed the cool and the monkeys were amusing, they were happy to jump on you for a banana if you held it up high and were the fastest banana peelers I’ve ever seen.  The water temple was set amongst some massive banyan trees and there whole park is full of interesting carvings.
Komodos ready to pounce

That done, we picked up supplies, did a quick stop at Ketut’s village market and spent the afternoon beside the pool.  Stone carver Wayan dropped by with a lovely carved tile for each of us.
We decided we’d lash out and have an extremely fancy dinner at the Cascades. We thought we’d bitten off more than we could chew when we drove past a Helocopter pad – but it turned out to be within our budget. (For Bali it was a high priced meal, but for a western meal it was reasonable).
Tomorrow our next adventure begins.... Nusa Lembongan, but that's another page....