Sunday, September 25, 2011

The market in Ubud, selling fresh petals for offerings.

She has holy water in the container on her head, she was at the agricultural temple.

A lovely crater lake.

A Balinese dancer.
The hot springs, a very picturesque spot.

The gorgeous water temple.

The serenity of the inner courtyard of the agricultural temple.

Doors on a private temple.

A whimsical wooden monkey.

View from the balcony where we had lunch.
Bali is beautiful, since we arrived a week ago we have been involved in a flurry of visiting with friends and touring to see the sights.  There are over 70 boats in the anchorage, so we have managed to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen since we left Darwin, two months ago.  I had a chance to go on an overnight trip to Ubud the cultural capital of Bali,  Barry choose to go diving instead, he is now only 3 dives behind me, he said he had a great dive on a wreck that was a two hour trip from the anchorage.
I went with six other people and we hired a driver and a car and headed up into the mountains.  We went up a narrow paved mountain road with switchbacks everywhere.  Bruce, it was a perfect motorcycle route, but it was packed with tourist minivans, trucks with produce and the ever present motor scooter. I am really glad we hired a driver because it was nuts, people take such chances over here! As we climbed higher up the mountain the vegetation changed.  The fertile volcanic soil was being used to grow such crops as oranges, grapes, coffee, tobacco, cloves, watermelon, mangoes and on and on.  At one point there was a section of the road that had fruit stands galore with beautifully piled  fruit.  Our first stop was on the ridge at the top of the mountain with a wonderful view of the crater lakes. They actually farm long seaweed that grows in the lake and they make rattan furniture with it.
The people of Bali are mostly Hindu and Buddhism is their religion. It  was explained to us that they believe in one God but there is seven manifestations, the god of wind, fire, earth, sun, water, rice and symmetry, so there are many, many temples. Each family has a temple in their yard which vary with the wealth of the family.  Each village would have a temple and then there are special temples for different things.  We stopped at a temple devoted to the god of water as well as one devoted to agricultural or rice.  The guide at the temple of agricultural told  us that temple had been built in the 15th century and was just used twice a year to bless the planting of the crops and the harvest. The atmosphere in the temple was so serene, you could hear the birds twittering and see and smell the frangipani trees, and I could sense the peace that dwelled within the grounds.  The water temple was much larger and more elaborate, it had beautiful flowers all around the grounds, there were too many tourists for me to get a sense of serenity but the location on the edge of a lake with a mountain arising on the other side was spectacular.
We stopped at spot where they had Balinese animals that you could photograph and hold.  If I had been on my own I would not have stopped because I do not agree with animals being kept in captivity but the group stopped.  I got to experience a python being wrapped around my neck, yikes!  I was okay when she put one around me but when she added the second heavier one I was freaked out.  It started wrapping itself around my leg and then it started squeezing, fortunately they feed them on a regular basis so it was only a gentle squeeze.  There were also flying foxes, or fruit bats on display as well as a beautiful iguana.  The fruit bats had an amazing wing span, I held everything they had but I drew the line at the bats! On we went to a coffee plantation and I got my wish to see coffee beans on a bush as well as cocoa pods on trees, ginger plants growing, clove trees and vanilla plants.  They have a special coffee here, the beans are eaten by an animal that is similar to a mongoose called  a civet and when the beans are excreted the farmers pick up the “ca-ca” as the coffee grower called it, they dry the manure and then peel and process the beans and it makes a very expensive coffee.  I am not a coffee coinsure so I chose not to taste that brand as it was the only one you had to pay to taste.   I bought some ginseng coffee for Barry that tastes like coffee and Baileys without the Baileys, I drank the sample and did it ever give me a caffeine jolt so no more ginseng coffee for me except perhaps on the 0100 to 0500 shift!
Next we stopped in Ubud, which is known for it’s handicrafts.  It was a zoo, tourists everywhere and a gazillion shops selling everything.  I admired the wooden cravings, purchased some unique pottery, and ogled all the beautiful batik silk and cotton fabrics.  We stayed at a budget hotel, but it had a pool and we had our own bathroom, I shared with another single female cruiser and we each had to pay approx. $10.00 CND per night.  We went  to a exhibition of Balinese dancing that night, which took place at the palace of the King. What an experience, the costumes, were brilliantly colored and covered in glitzy gold thread and the style of dancing was delightful. The eyes seem to pop and the head was jerked back and forth sideways on the neck while the shoulders were held still.  The finale was a masked dancer who came out and played an old man.  I could tell by his feet that he was not as young and nubile as the other dancers and when I saw him afterwards his head was covered in long gray hair.
On the way back to Lovina Beach the next day we stopped to have lunch at a restaurant that had a marvelous view of a volcanic mountain that had trails cut through the lava going in every direction.  We did not have time to do any hiking but perhaps that might take place another day.  We saw the marvel of engineering which are the terraced rice paddies.  The hawkers at this location were fierce, we had to shut the doors on the vehicle in their faces to get away from them.  We stopped at the hot springs on the way home and soaked away our tensions.  The pool had gargoyles with warmish water spouting from their mouths so you could sit under them and let the warm water soothe your knotted muscles.  There was a second pool that had the water dropping from about 5 meters and it pounded down on you.  It was a wonderful way to end the trip.
We arrived  back in the anchorage in time to attend the welcoming entertainment and a couple of days later had a wonderful time at the farewell feast.  We will probably stay in Bali for a few more days before moving on.  
Sorry but I am unable to put the pictures where I want them so they will just have to stay where they are for now. 
Python power, yikes!