After that we had our most luxurious dinner yet at the Lotus cafe
. It over looks a beautiful temple with a lilly pond, and had a tradiational legong dance ceremony each night. I got to order Kur Royal (my fav) and Ryan splurged for nice Whiskey and the FOOD was amazing. we both got Italian which was a little weird, but man was it good. We also finished up by each ordering a dessert. It was funny when we got the bill we knew it was going to be huge. Rp. 700,000! That is by far the most we paid for anything but it's funny how you lose sight of the fact that a $75 dinner is really easy to do in the states. Totally worth every penny.
Next morning we wandered around until the Cremation Ceremony for a member of the royal family. This is the 2nd class after the Brahmans, or priest class. The number of tiers on the pagoda used to transport the body indicated class level so this was a 7 tier pagoda. And the chamber the body is burned in changes by class as well. The symbol for the royal family is a bull. You'll see in the pictures, but both structures were amazing. They took about 20 guys each to carry. So let me back track a little bit. When someone dies they are buried until one of two things happens. If they are a poor family, they must wait until someone rich dies, and piggyback on or save enough money for their own cremation. Or if they are rich, they must wait for an auspicious lucky day. The bodies are sometimes buried as long as a year be for the villagers go to the cemetery, present offerings and perform rituals, and then yes...that's right...dig 'em up! For this ceremony they put the body in to a coffin that looks like it made of cardboard and then they carried him to the Palace square making sure to run around in circles and get lost so the spirit cant find its way back. The pagoda and bull were hanging out here all day waiting for the special moment when the body arrives. The ceremonial traffic police shut the roads down, and they Hoist the coffin up onto a tiny platform and strap it in so that it is precariously hanging out about half way
. Then a guy climbs on top of the Giant Bull (maybe a son?) and about 15-20 young pall bearers yell, hoist and then RUN at full speed carrying this bull through the streets stopping every now and then to shake it so it looks like a bucking bronco. The pagoda follows behind and two guys with bamboo polls have to lift each power line for it to make it under, meanwhile the local fire department douses the crowd periodically with a fire hose! it was pretty mad. We made it to the temple about a half mile away and then they haul the bull onto a platform, cut its back off, and then unpack the body from the coffin (he was still wrapped in a thin sheet like a mummy) into the bulls back. Then many more rituals and offerings before they unwrap him then one last CHEESE! as a family member snaps the final shot of him resting peacefully, then they replace the bull back and hook it up to a gas line and boom! the whole thing goes up in serious flames. need i say more?
We left Ubud and headed back to The Bukit penninsula to hopefully catch a swell, which turned out to be late. We stayed in a random inn the first night and then moved down to a cliffside spot that was really hard to access and had monkeys in the trees! They had different levels of rooms but we opted for the 5 dollar bamboo hut. The waves were small so we jumped off the rocks and swam around the rocky bend to padang padang beach to rent longboards. We caught tons of waves and Ryan brought the camera out and got a couple shots of me surfing. It was a fun session cause it was mellow and we caught tons of waves. We surfed for a couple hours and then swam back. Went to dinner and Yeh Yehs again and ran into my local lifegaurd at marine street! Small world. He told me before we left he'd be in Bali, but what are the odds!
Ryan got one decent session at Uluwatu that morn, and we took off to meet Tristan in Kuta
. We were not too stoked about staying Kuta (scuzzy) but wanted to hang out with Tristan one more time. We headed to the beach where I bought Ryan a blowdart gun as a two year anniversary gift- yes, thats right, a blowdart gun- and then got in touch with Tristan and decided we should all meet up at Joosts place in Canggu. (this was the first place we stayed and he held on to Ryans flight surf board bag and our sleeping pads for us so we needed to head there anyway) We stopped off for a surf at Barawa, again one of the first spots we surfed, then met Joost and Tristan down at a warung for dinner. Joost and Mareike had there baby four weeks early! We got to meet Rose Wayan (Wayan means first born and half the people in Bali are named Wayan) and relax in a familiar spot which was nice. Ryan and Tristan got a really good session in and I drove the motor bike to a free yoga class which was really perfect. I went back to the same massage place where i got the amazing first one, and i had the most painful but in a good way massage of my life! I swear i literally felt like every one of my muscles had been removed and reattached...but super relaxed like floating. It was crazy, but it may have been a bit much cause the next day i felt like a bruised peach! haha!
We went to a little known spot Joost recomended called Balian and the waves looked good so we got a room that looked like a tree house in a serious jungle
. this was a place where when you turn on the light the mosquito net is covered in bugs including a giant cockroach right above ryans head...so i didnt really sleep and was too scared to go to the bathroom! haha! (i mean you had to go out into the jungle and navigate a moat to get there and the bathroom itself was jungle so....) The next morning, there was even more wildlife action when Ryan went for his sunrise session. He was the only guy out and spotted a shark!...at breakfast time none-the-less. A small White tip that launched out of the water about 10 feet from him, so he paddled straight in! you never know where mom is hanging out. Balian was a bit wild, so we headed up to medewi which had the rep of being a beginner beach. The waves were actually REALLY good...I certainly would not classify this as a beginner situation by any means, but for its size, the drop was very kind. It was exactly what i have been asking for. A larger, faster wave with a somewhat mellow drop and on a point so there's a safety channel that I can use to dodge big sets since i have to turtle roll and if the board gets ripped out of my hands, as can happen on larger waves, i dont kill someone. This was exactly it, but I only had the guts to take off on one wave. It was a super fun moment and probably the biggest wave I've ever caught on purpose. There were also some encouraging people in the water who were calling me into waves and could tell I kept backing out! one who said "did you catch one" and I said "yes"..."and how was it?" me: "amazing"..."then whats the problem? eh?". exactly....um, Im scared a bit. It made me realize I am the only thing in my way since I actually can and have successfully caught bigger waves, but then I get mangled once and doubt myself the rest of the session. Winter trips to San Onofre are in order when i get home, cause with more exposure, I know I can conquer the fear. Ryan had an amazing session also as there was the large consistant take-off that then connected to a super fast barreling shallow section that went on for days
. He stayed out for 3 hours, half that time in pouring rain. As the tide came up and after I went in, it just got more insane so he was in heaven. The next day, the size had mellowed just enough that I was in heaven and caught a few really stellar waves. I was limited only by the fact that by this point my arms were like noodles. Either way we left after breakfast very stoked.
We headed up and around the west coast where a large portion is national wildlife reserve. We looked for a nature walk and temple I wanted to see but we missed it and by the time we asked we were more than 10km (5ish mi) ahead and decided to scrap it. We did manage to find the sacred Hot springs and Buddhist monastery though. The "sacred hot springs" was actually the equvilent of a public swimming pool in fancy clothes so that was a bit of a let down. When we think hot springs we think small relaxing hot tubs. This was a large pool with an upper level and there were dragons spitting the hot water into each that you could rinse under and get a light massage, but the water in the top was only just warm and the water below was just luke warm which made it feel more like an old bath than anything, and there were TONS of people in it. When we arrived the top was not too crowded but got more packed by the minute and Ryan could only get 2 foot long black hairs wrapped around him so many times before he felt quite relaxed enough to leave
. I did enjoy the people watching and felt this was a cool place because locals and non-locals mingled on equal footing (not interactions based on locals getting drinks and hooking up internet for foreigners and otherwise serving their needs) and there was a strong sense of community which was nice to feel a part of.
Then on to the monastery which was absolutely beautiful (and the only religious place we didn't have to pay to see...go Buddhists!) And we had a nice meditation and walk through the grounds here.
We headed to Lovina for the night which is on the very Northern tip of Bali (Im Trying to Remember to capitalize Proper Nouns Mom) and the tour books describe it as the perfect place to do nothing...It is famous for the massive hoards of dolphins that eat breakfast nearby. So we found a little spot to stay that had large grounds and a pool and I signed up for the dolphin viewing because, hey I haven't seen a dolphin in 6 weeks and I miss the little guys that frequent my home beach. Also, this is the reason people come to Lovina so gotta give it a go, right?
We had a nice dinner and watched various Western men romance their Bali "girlfriends" which was good mealtime entertainment and then hit the hay as the dolphin viewing was a 6am thing. (Ryan reluctantly decided he would attend in case it ended up being cool, or at least to say i told you so) Well, he told me so
. It was the most hairbrained fiasco I have ever seen and I feel sad to have contributed $6 to this nightmare. There were at least 50 boats with noisy outboard motors (deafening underwater Im sure) carrying an average of 5 people (you can do the math...) At first we all sat in a clump waiting. Then as groups of dolphins started surfacing as they cruised along eating, the boat would floor it and chase the dolphins coming from every angle until the boats (headed straight for their little heads) would cause the dolphins to go back under. Then we would sit there.....and all at once engines roared and within a few seconds one of the boats was directly on top of where the dolphins had been eating. and suprise...the dolphins went under. I mean it was insane. Is it better to see dolphins from 5 feet away for 2 seconds, or 10 feet away for as long as you want? The few times our boat strayed from the crowd and we told him it was cool if we just sat for a bit to see what happened, groups would surface for a long time and it was really cool, until eventually some boat would make it over to ruin the fun...You were right Ryan...
The next day we headed down through the middle of Bali, saw the largest waterfall in Bali, tried to go to a temple but I messed up the directions (I know! i was wrong! but we could have turned around...) so we missed that, then we went to Jattilewi to see the rice terraces but they tried to charge us $2 to drive on a public road just for being white so we refused and turned around on principle because its not nice to discriminate. (I think honestly we were just in bad moods and hey its only $2 which, Is it worth turning around for? but I started getting pretty sick of people just looking at me as a $dollar sign$ all the time) So we headed back into Ubud for our last two nights. The next day we missioned into the market place to haggle for all the things we had scoped out over the 6 weeks. We had to rendevous at the place to unload take inventory, refocus and go back in for round two, but we got amazing Christmas presents (get excited family!) We had a lovely dinner at a health food restaurant called Bali Buddah that had all my favorite health foods for sale really cheap
. Including Colloidal silver my new favorite anti biotic for those without insurance....cures everything! Then the next day we headed back to our starting place, Canggu for one last surf session (I got up in the mix, huslted for waves and victory was mine!) then had dinner and our last storm beer at Beach House. We said good bye to echo beach and bali and made perfect time to the airport...turned in our car to the random guy on the curb who flagged us down...and went to check in...happy ending. Oh wait. Flight delayed. no big deal. For 24 hours.
HAHA! seriously turns out Garuda airlines is the second worst airline in the world for commercial crashes, so we were totally fine getting on a bus to a 5 star hotel instead of on a plane with "technical difficulties" What can you do? So in an ironic turn of events we headed to a hotel that we swore we would never support (remember the giant Garuda and ishnu statue in the first or second entry) Story goes, a Chinese resort developer came in and partnered with the presidents son to build an enormous compound on the south side of the penninsula (it would appear in an effort to compete with Nusa Dua due North and close out the pennisula entrance to eventually turn the entire thing into a Hawaii-like debaccle of high end resorts and fake balinese cultural displays. sad) But on top of this, being that the best surf spots in the world are here, they forced out the tiny surfers warungs on the famous spot Dreamland and put the most god-awful looking concrete "luxury resort" on what was a pristine gorgeous natural beach with a down to earth surf scene
. Then, they went over the hill and BURNED DOWN all the warungs on Balangan Beach where we first stayed which I loved! and the police...did nothing. even though everyone knew what happened as 10 homes went up in flames all at once from different corners so that...get this- the golfers on the hill could have a better view. So after swearing we'd never support a place like that...we ended up there and it was by far the most "western" room we stayed in...i struggle to say nicest cause it felt like any other generic "nice" hotel and had no charm whatsoever. oh man. The next afternoon at 1:30 we successfully flew to Australia 12 hours late. Instead of arriving at 7am and having the whole day to get our act together. We showed up at midnight with no place to stay...hahah! till next time gentle reader....
Well, thinking about where I left off....This last 10 days was kind of a blur. We ended up renting a car as I mentioned so we just were on the go constantly spending no more than 2 nights in a place and usually only one. It's a common way to travel but very exhausting. I much perfer hangin' out, getting familiar with a place as opposed to the just watching a country fly by your face. But, with only 10 days, we wanted to get in all the spots we hadn't made it to....so, picking up with our 2nd night in Ubud, we went to the enchanted Monkey forest where there were Waaaay more monkies and these guys were the majority, so they tended to be kinda scary...At uluwatu at least humans far out numbered but in the forest you might be all alone with like 20 scary monkies. We did stumble upon one monkey in full meditation next to a waterfall. It was really funny. They are like crazy little people.