A lesson in Balinese culture...tourist style!

Trip Start Dec 23, 2009
Trip End Mar 15, 2010

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, January 8, 2010

Hello again!

I awake today (the 8th) to pouring rain...and its the day of my tour to Ubud. I head out and meet with Mayan and her husband.  We are going to be visiting the towns of Celuk, Batuan, Mas and then Ubud.  The fist stop is a traditional Barong and Kris Balinese show.  This is a traditional act that depicts good versus evil.  The dancers are very entertaining and even though I cannot understand what they are saying the actors are funny.  We then head to a factory where items are handwoven as well as a silver factory where everything is hand made.  Finally its to an art gallery.  I watch for a bit as the artist is very talented.  He spends months on just one painting going over and over with detail. After another great lunch its off to the Monkey forest. These guys are pretty crazy but not as aggressive as the ones in Ulu.  It is a nice tour and then Mayan drops me off at my next hotel Artini in Ubud.  You would never expect what you see from the entrance...but as with the last the grounds are beautiful and the room is very nice.  The staff here is awesome...and by the end of my stay I have several new friends as we have enjoyed many Bintangs and jokes by the pool.  They nickname me "The Doctor". The main guy Made has worked her for 27 years.  I get settled in and then head to a Balinese fire dance show.  Back at the hotel I sit pool side with some whacked out Australian older woman...who is really cool....just a bit out there. Soon its off to bed as I am rafting in the morning.

The next day I awake around 5:45...even after another night of many Bintangs. Its off to the Ayung River to go rafting. This is a class 3...so fun but would have liked a little more danger. There were still some good drops...but the people I was with, the guide and the scenery made this one of my favorites adventures so far.  The river is lined with sculptures in the rocks that were incredible.  I am on board with the Fletcher family from Australia. They are an amazing family of 4 with 2 great kids, mom who is always cheery and dad who is super cool.  Turns out he surfs and has been to Bali many many times...dating back to 1978. By the end of the trip we are all good friends and Dad (Russ) offers to let me borrow a board and head out to surf mid week once back in Kuta area. Right on! Especially as the swell is supposed to pick up. We head back to the hotel after a nice lunch that was included and then a dip in the pool...and I make plans with a woman and her daughter Zoe to have dinner. They too are from Australia and super cool.  We head to Nomad Restaurant for an awesome dinner and even better conversation.  We head back to the hotel and have another few Bintangs and a dip in the pool.

Today (Jan 10th) there is a Balinese funeral ceremony and cremation.  This doesn't get under way until 1:00 so I chill by the pool and say my good byes to Zoe and her Mother as they are off to Lombok.  Yet once again I meet more incredible people that I must say bye to. 

This ceremony is a very big event as most families cannot afford the cremation and ceremony process.  This event usually involves a large amount of the community.  The body is carried in a tall very elaborate pyre.  A massive black bull is also carried through the streets by around 75 people.  Along the way the group sets out to confuse the corpse so it cannot find its way back home.  The men shake the tower, run it around in circles while a a priest hangs on at the top of the tower.  This is all accompanied by a very loud and percussive musical procession.  This is a very intense event as they make there way through the streets and to the cemetery.  Once there the body is transferred inside to the bull reflecting the caste. Several more processes and then two men place very large fuel torches at each end and the whole thing goes up in flames. The body falls into the flames...and yes you see the body.  The ashes are then taken out to sea to be scattered.  This was a very long process so its off to a late lunch and some pool time. Tomorrow morning I am hiking Gunung Batur crater to see the sunrise and I have to be up at 2:45 to leave at 3:00. But that doesn't stop me from hangin at the pool bar with the staff and guests until 12:30.  I meet another really cool couple...one of the staff is performing some sick magic tricks.

Up after a few hours. Today (Jan 11th) I am off for the sunrise hike.  And its POURING rain.  We make the hour drive to the base and head up for what is normally a 2 hour hike. My guide and I are the last to head up as there are about 12 others on their way. I tell the guide that I want to beat everyone to the top and he is cool with that...so we hauled up the rocky ridge in just about an hour leaving the others behind.  Its really cloudy so no sunrise...but still an awesome time. The drive back through the mountains is very nice with great views.  I get back and crash for a few hours then its off for another solo hike around the Campuan Ridge.  This is really nice through several villages.  I stop at a small cafe for a nice view and of course a Bintang...and get talking to really nice local family.  Again we speak about lifestyle and once more I have met another amazing person in this beautiful place.  I finally head down in the dark which was fun!  Tomorrow I am headed back to the Kuta area to meet up with Russ to surf. 

OK I am sick of typing...I hope you enjoy...and I will update in a week or so.

Chillin in Bali
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ana anderson on

This is so cool Greg!!! so hapy to see/read that you are having an amazing time.....

LIZ on


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