Couchsurfing Bali

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Where I stayed
Arman Villas
What I did

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Sunday, July 17, 2011

Today was a perfect example of how the social network of Couchsurf operates. One girl posted a plan to tour around and visit Ulu Watu on moped. In the end eight of us met up in the busy city of Kuta on four bikes and had a full day of the sights. We were two Latvian sisters, Monika and Leva; a German guy, Daniel; a Korean woman, Yoenmi; an Indian guy, Parry; I and two locals, Ricky and Agoes. I guess Agoes is a common Indonesian name. We made it not five blocks before Parry realized he was out of petrol. Not a problem because you can find moped petrol sold in Absolut vodka bottles or even 1.5 liter water bottles, every 100 feet on the side of the road.

Agoes led the pack with Yeonmi on deck, the sisters second, and then Parry (crazy driver) had Daniel on board followed by Ricky and me as the caboose. Although Ricky doesn't have much patience for slow drivers (sounds like someone we know J). First stop was GWK, Garuda Wisma Keicnel. Basically a panorama view point where they’ve built two large statues which from a distance look like stone but are actually only made of hallow iron. After a couple of the guys got enticed to try the sorry excuse for zip lining, we got back on the bikes and continued on. Time for some local lunch before arriving at Padang Beach.

Pandang Beach was the first white sand beach I was seeing and it was just as paradise like as it is in Eat, Pray, Love, but more notorious for its prime surfing. To access the beach we had to pass a large crowd gathered in the square. Today was the end of a big Indonesian festival, Kuningan.  In celebration they have a ceremony where the women prepare a ton of food and offerings for the Temple. As part of the special occasion men conduct cock fights. Please don’t read this if you are an animal activist. In the main square close to a hundred men crowded around. At first they go through the selection process, posing different roosters against one another to see the aggression level. If they feel it will be a good opponent they then tie a small blade to each of the rooster’s legs while another manages the bets being placed. Next they put they place the two birds in the middle of the circle forcing all the spectators to back up. I was probably standing a little too close for comfort, when the fight began. The fights last as long as it takes for one to kill the other and finishes with someone displaying the dead chicken as proof. Between the visual and the abundant cackling, it was an Indonesian ritual I can say I experienced, and once was enough.

Our next stop was to Pura Luhur Ulu Watu, one of several important temples to the spirits of the sea along the south coast of Bali.  To reach it, we walked along this gorgeous cliff that drops straight down to the sea while dodging the wild monkeys who during our visit I witness them grab the following items from other tourists: water bottle, hat, glasses, camera case and gum.

We watched the mesmerizing sunset before attending the Kecak dance. This cultural dance is unusual because it does not have a gamelan accompaniment. Instead the background is provided by a changing "choir" of men who repeat the sounds “chak-a-chak-a-chak” while dancers in costume perform the tale of the Ramayana, the quest of Prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita after she had been kidnapped by Rawana, the king of Lanka. Throughout the dance, the circle of seated men, all bare-chested and wearing checked cloth around their waists, repeat the “chak-a” sound swaying and bouncing their body as if the movement of a monkey in an eery coordination. A fire sits in the middle and the dancers come and go depending on the act. If there is ever a time to see a Kecak performance the Ulu Temple makes the setting.

After the performance we motored back down to town stopping at the local market for dinner. Post dinner, we went our separate ways to shower and get ready for the night out. We did a little pre-partying at our villa, drinking “arak” cocktails, a drink native to Indonesia similar to soju. A few played drinking games while the rest of us viewed the day’s photos on my laptop. A few new people joined us, among them another Ricky who became our designated driver. He managed to pile 11 of us into an eight person van. Loaded up we hit Potato Lounge and then walked next door to dance at the W hotel.  Of course all the cute Western men were dancing with skinny Indonesian women. I don’t know the nickname for these kind of women but according to Ricky they call the local men who are on the hunt for Western women “chicken” while the hunted white woman is referred to as the “fish.”

I made it an early night by 2:30AM whereas Ricky and Monika surfed that morning and didn’t make it back home until late afternoon for a brief siesta.
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