Here are some Bali beasties that I particularly enjoyed seeing…
Here are some Bali beasties that I particularly enjoyed seeing…
The telephone rang sharply at 4:00am. I answered it hesitantly, expecting the worst. What could possibly be so important? That was 20 years ago and thankfully it wasn’t bad news. It was my stepson calling from somewhere faraway on his round-the-world trip.
“Sue – I’m in Bali and it is the most beautiful place on earth!” “You MUST visit here before you die”. In case he knew something about my life-expectancy that I didn’t, I responded “OK, quick – tell me more”. For this independent young man to call home with such excitement wasn’t the norm for him, so I knew something spectacular was waiting on the other side of the globe.
Fortune smiled on me this November and I found myself exploring the wonders of the most beautiful place on earth.
Here’s a sampling…
If you love to snorkel, this is heaven. It’s great for beginners too because you can just slip on your flippers and waddle out. This was especially important for me because I had my first snorkeling experience a week before and surprised myself – I was scared! We went on an excursion and the preparation was non-existent. What I expected and the reality didn’t even resemble each other! I found myself in the middle of the ocean with no life jacket and my snorkel on backwards. Not a pleasant experience!
However, because I LOVE fish (and I’m a stubborn Taurus) I knew I had to try again, so off we went to Blue Lagoon. It is an island paradise and we had it nearly to ourselves. With my own snorkel equipment and feeling secure in a rented life-jacket, I quickly discovered the enchantment coral reefs offer. Now I am considering learning scuba-diving…
This was a great hang-out spot. There was always lots to see, great people watching and inexpensive lawn chairs. And they all come with ‘umbrella service’ – if you want a cold drink, something to eat, a massage, manicure, boat ride… all you have to do is nothing. It will all come to you. But in a un-assuming, non- persistent kind of way. The beach vendors here understand ‘No thanks’. But you can’t say ‘Later’ or they hold that as a contract and return to remind you.
Kuta is where the party animals go. Surfers and bikinis abound. There is a lot of action and noise. And the vendors on this beach are very aggressive. They don’t rely on their sweetness to get business, they just wear you down into submission. No means yes.
But – the beach is incredible with crystal clear water. And sooooo warm.
After sweltering in the 38 degree high humidity environment, escaping to the mountains was just what we needed. It felt cool here, although 21 degrees celcius is the record low temperature in Bali!
The air was so fresh and clean. We discovered that these mountains are the poorest places in Bali since there is not enough water to grow rice. Imagine, with that big lake but no water in the hills. There are on-going projects to help the people in the small villages eek out a living.
What could be better than a lovely waterfall? Well, picture one surrounded by dense jungle and it takes on a whole new dimension. Everything is just so green. And lush.
Colorful flowers speckle the hillside and the roar of the water lulls you into another dimension as good old mother earth in all her splendor delights all of your senses.
Even the fruit stands are pretty. The colourfulweirdly shaped fruit is arranged in artistic sculptures and even though I had no idea what most of it was, I craved a tropical fruit salad. But I would have to wait since we were on the other side of the island many hours from our hotel home.
The lady who was trying to sell this fruit was not happy that I wasn’t interested in buying; she used some words that didn’t sound like she was expressing her love… Then she stomped off.
With this bad jiji, I couldn’t possibly eat her fruit now!
The most important and probably the oldest temple in Bali, it is actually comprised of about 28 temples, making for incredible roofline views. It has wonderful energy in spite of the over-abundance of ‘tourist guides’ trying to take your money for just about anything. It doesn’t matter. Because from the top, you can see forever.
And lastly, my favorite – the terraced rice paddies. So rich with life, you can almost feel them breathing.
It is difficult to sum up Bali in just a few words…. But I’ll try…
“You MUST visit here before you die!”
Imagine a country full of beautiful people with infectious smiles, twinkling eyes and happy laughter bursting forth and you’ll have a bit of a feeling for the Balinese. A sociable, fun-loving gregarious people, they have a strong sense of community. Although they work long hours for little pay, you would never guess it from the cheerful chattering going on.
Bali has lived under a lot of oppression (Dutch colonization and Japanese occupation and more recently threats from the Muslim part of Indonesia) but the residents are seemingly free of bitterness. We asked if the smiles were perhaps masking bad feelings and were told that although they aren’t always happy, they believe the best way to feel better is to smile. They accept life as it is and believe strongly in karma. They have fear, but to dwell on it or feel resentment would be bad karma for them, so they choose not to go there. It was very refreshing to experience a culture that doesn’t hold a grudge!
Their culture and society is built on a strong foundation of religious tradition. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, the Balinese are mostly Hindu. Although similar to the Indian beliefs, it is actually a combination of Hinduism and Buddhism. Their beliefs and customs are completely integrated into everyday life.
Bali has a ‘Mother Temple, each region has a temple, each town has a temple and each family compound has a temple. That’s a lot of temples!There is always a ceremony going on at one or more of these, so the community comes together often. And every day their Gods are thanked, along with offerings placed in the temples, at altars, in front of doorways, on tables, benches, almost anywhere you can think of. Weaving palm leaves together, the women create little baskets which they fill with rice, flowers, gum, cigarettes, whatever treat they can think of to offer. The doves and chickens are very grateful as they generally eat everything immediately. I didn’t see any smoking birds, but I am sure the cigarettes don’t get wasted either.
The streets are motocross tracks. Any resemblance to roads is purely accidental. Motorbikes scoot back and forth at dizzying speeds, with whole families perched precariously on the tiny seats. Dad is navigating with his hands full of 8 foot bamboo poles…. mom balances a colourful basket on her head and a sleeping baby on her lap, older kids hang on seemingly without touching… It’s wild, but somehow it works. The bikes operate with radar like migrating flocks of birds.
Bali has its share of crime, but in the smaller towns and villages, there isn’t any sign of it. The kids live a carefree life, they play innocently and without fear. Catching frogs in the streams, swimming in the ocean, playing games in a tropical paradise – sounds like an ideal childhood. The society is very family oriented and the children appear to have confidence and security. They are quick to smile, then shyly run off, giggling at the funny tourists.
Bali is rich in scenery and culture, but what impressed me most were the light-filled people. They truly SHINE!