4.18.13 - 4.24.13 95 °F
I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts.
It’s based on a book about a woman trying to find herself traveling to three different countries, and Bali is one of them. I only saw the movie once, but I remember thinking *queue whispery, magical voice* Baaaaaliiiii! And it was with such magical thoughts I entered the country. But to be honest, my lasting impression about Bali will be that Bali is filthy. That’s putting it blunt, and it’s putting it simple. Don’t get me wrong. I think the country has physical features to make it beautiful: volcanoes, mountains, coastline, and reefs to snorkel over. I just don’t think I was anticipating the filth. There’s trash everywhere and a consistent stink of incense (which on it’s own is a good thing) mixed with rubbish and shit (but mixed with other things, isn’t the best thing I’ve ever smelled). And please, just Google “Balinese toilet.” Just do it.
So, with that introduction, we actually had a great time in Bali! (Hey, a place can be dirty and still be fun!). Our first night was spent in Ubud with our couchsurfing host, Made (pronounced Mah-day) in his traditional Balinese home which includes a temple in the middle of three buildings that house all family members including parents and siblings and those siblings’ children. It also houses, a monkey who doesn’t like women *sheesh* and a rooster – who crows – at 4:00 in the morning – veeeerrrry loudly.
Made with his monkey
Made took us to his community’s temple ceremony that night where we participated in a Hindu blessing and were sprinkled with holy water. We burned incense and put flowers in our hair. We listened to Balinese Hindu music performed live and watched Legong dancing performed by 10-12 year old girls who have mastered every rigid movement with their bodies and every distrustful look with their eyes. It was absolutely magical. Magical to be there - to witness it - in person - right in front of us.
Legong dancing at the ceremony in Made's community temple
- **Side note: I thought about this experience for a moment while sitting in front of the stage cross-legged. I know people who would be scared by it. Who would say that somehow I was doing something sinful as a Christian to be a part of this ceremony. But you know what? The thing that this ceremony did most for me was make me grateful. Grateful, that my God is accessible at all times and in any place. Even that place. I don’t have to make sacrifices, I don’t have to dance, I don’t have to visit a temple or go to a church – for my God, to be present. [/float]
Ready for our first Hindu ceremony. Note the background. Made is also a wood carver
The next four days were spent traveling to Tulamben and then Amed, both in east Bali. We traveled with a French couple, Lydie and Arnaud, and they were awesome travel buddies. Arnaud seems to be the adventure seeker of the two, with Lydie more down to earth and relaxed. It was a nice compliment to David and myself. And it was nice to have some company who could agree that Bali was maybe somewhat filthy. it sounds trivial, but I mention this because I tried to deny the filth at first thinking that somehow, if Bali truly were filthy, it would ruin our good time. But I found out, a country can be dirty and still be fun.
Us with Lydie and Arnaud swimming in Amed
David and I snorkeled in Tulamben and tried to find the USS shipwreck that is close to shore. We didn’t find it. When the water got deeper and visibility was lost, we decided to go back. The main reason being that the man who rented the equipment to us told us not to worry if I saw a shark around the shipwreck. “Just don’t make any sudden movements, and you’ll be fine.” WHAT??? I like the ability to make sudden movements. Just saying. Plus, this comes from the staff member was smoking while fiddling with the oxygen tank. Umm…what?
Two days later, we snorkeled in Amed over a Japanese shipwreck that we did find! It’s much closer to shore with great visibility, and we have amazing panoramic shots of the mountains from the water thanks to David’s patience.
Panoramic shot of the mountains from above the Japanese shipwreck
We rode scooters around the coastline of Amed and took in amazing views all while reapplying sunscreen more times than I can count.
Us not dying on a scooter. I might have been super nervous about this considering David is afraid of motorcycles. But as you can tell, we survived
After Amed, we returned to Ubud sans Lydie and Arnaud for two more nights. We went to the monkey forest and watched the monkies play with each other and against each other. I watched a mother monkey hold the tail of her baby as it tried to get away. She held on as it tried to run forward but the baby only went side to side. The mother seemed amused.
Mother teasing baby
We watched the monkies clean each other, swing in trees, chase people and climb up people as if they were trees. I had one monkey climb on me and just sit a while. David had one jump all fours onto his back. He thought at first I had hit him on the back like a that-a-boy hit before he realized he had a monkey on his shoulder.
I had a few other monkeys climb on me. And yes, one monkey bit me at the park and another bit me at our hotel. No, I do not have rabies and no, I’m not worried because it didn’t break the skin. The first bite was no worse than a child’s bite and the second only left a bruise on my hand. After the latter though, David decided no more monkeys on Sharon.
David caught the second bite on camera. My face!
Um, not comfortable. But only a small bruise was left.
We walked around the shops in Ubud and bartered for a sundress. We ate at a restaurant called Dian that was cheaper than others we had seen, had huge portions (most portions in Bali are pretty small), and was just absolutely delicious. The most common meals on the menus are Nasi Campur and Nasi Goreng, and they are both really yummy (I will miss the food, actually).
David, Nasi Campur and Nasi Goreng
We rested, took in some sun, read a book and just enjoyed our time together. It was lovely. In fact, I’m finding that the most fun we’re having, is with each other. The experiences are awesome, but I wouldn’t want to do this trip alone. I’m glad I have David to share it with. He’s fun, he’s goofy, and he’s becoming a little spontaneous out in this big world.
The trip itself? It's still pretty unbelievable. We’re still reminding each other, “Hey, guess what? We’re in Bali!”
Here you can see, I was also groped by a monkey. Literally, right down my tank top.
Japanese shipwreck in Amed
Just one example of the trash. I saw children playing with pieces of cardboard like a Frisbee here. This example, however, is nothing compared to some places we saw with piles and piles of trash.
You see these designs in the bird baths often. They're always different and designed by hand.
These are the offerings you see everywhere. People place them in front of their homes, on top of stairs, outside the shops, etc. It's made out of coconut leaves and flowers usually accompanied by an incense stick burning on top.
And for those of you who didn’t Google it: you’re welcome