I have no idea how I can describe the sensory overload of visiting Bali. we have 430 photos from this day, and there is only so much room on the blog page 🙁 Things started out early, Pat was first in line to get the tender tickets. Since we had arrived almost 2 hours earlier than expected, there was a line up even at 7AM! We were eager to meet Gusti, our driver for the day.
The tender ride was the usual, a bit stuffy inside but smooth waters. As soon as we got off the tender, we were met with Gamalan music, typical of Bali. These bronze cymbals make a distinctive sound, very reminiscent of trance type music. We were actively pursued by street vendors so made sure that we found Gusti and then off to the van.
Our introduction to Bali traffic was sudden and prolonged. Narrow roads in town and a surplus of mopeds make for exciting times. Driving technique requires steady nerves.Most of the roads are 2 lanes so if you want to pass, then you generally must cross the centre line, whether it is solid or not. While you are passing, it is likely that you will be passed by mopeds on both sides! Polite toots of the horn ensure that the other drivers beside you are aware of your intentions. Amazingly this works very well, we never heard angry horn honking here or in Java.
On to our other experiences:
Klungkung, Kertha Gosa. At this temple a guide explained the various buildings and the meaning of the panels inside the ‘court’ building. The lowest level of panels describes the punishments for various transgressions such as political corruption, murder, adultery, etc. One wonders what would happen if we were to implement the beheading and boiling punishment for corruption. The temple itself is very busy, not just with tourists, with the main area sectioned off from public access for ceremonies.
an unending array of small factories along the main road. there they manufacture furniture, wooden trinkets, stone carvings and statues for temples, etc. Much of the products produced in these mini-factories are exported.
Mixed in are the ubiquitous food stalls, shops and moped garages. Along the way we passed through rice fields and even a duck farm. Most of the rice production is for local use, very little is for export.
Lunch was at a restaurant on the outskirts of Ubud. Pat ordered Ikan Goreng, baked fish. when her dish arrived she was’t too sure if it would be nice, the 9" fish (small Snapper) was fried whole. But it turned out to be delicious. No left overs here. I had Bakmi goreng (noodles) with Soto Ayam (chicken soup) before. Along with 2 large beers the total price in this upscale restaurant was RP249000 or approximately CAD30. Not only was the food great, the location was amazing. Only a roof covered us, there were no walls. And it was next to rice terraces. And of course there was a shrine as well.
Tirta empul holy springs were the next stop. This recently restored 1000 year old temple is famous for its black spring water. The spring water flows to various parts of the temple grounds, including a cleansing area for worshippers. Here they wash multiple times under spouts. The water ends up feeding a fish pond. The temple is in active use, while we were there a large family came to pray.
After climbing uphill toward Mt Batur for quite a while we reached a lookout overlooking a massive set of rice terraces. Pat was convinced to buy some more batik fabric, then on to Mt Batur and its outer crater. Both Mt Batur and Lake Batur is actually inside this outer 8.5 mile wide crater.
Dinner was at a warung along Highway 1 back into Padang Bai. This was a typical roadside restaurant, with a fixed menu. This particular one specialized in fish so the meal was Fish Sate, boiled rice, Soto Ikan (spicy fish soup) and Bok Choy. We only had to choose the drink, for which we picked the local Fanta cold tea in a bottle. Total price per person was RP45000 (CAD5). We honestly would have trouble choosing which of the two meals was best. These informal eateries are everywhere along the roads. They seem to cook only a certain amount of food, once that is gone they close.
Along the way we stopped several times to take advantage of local fruits. For example a must is young coconut juice. Not at all sweet, this juice has quite a mild flavour. Also we passed many fruit salad trees, of course we had to sample some 😉
And we learned why the Balinese are such pleasant people. Almost every home has a temple, the island is predominantly Hindu. Each town has a gathering place for meetings. Many things are decided at that level instead of relying on upper layers of government. Things like tolerance, prayer, helping others when they are down, small prayers throughout the day make for a very peaceful approach to life. A prime example of the resulting attitude is how traffic chaos is handled in a graceful manner. In North America this type of driving would result in angry horn honking and road rage. Here it is taken in stride as a way of life together. There was also a distinct absence of graffiti and similar vandalism.
Made provided us with a great driver/guide for this trip. We would highly recommend their services as this is the best way to see Bali. Of course 1 or 2 weeks there would provide more time to see a larger part of the island. But with their help the one day we had was fabulous. (You can see Made’s details in the page on RH side of the blog)