...live in Bali.

Trip Start Mar 05, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did
Rice terraces, Temples, more beaches

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Sunday, April 29, 2012

Surfing Bali day 1:
After some thorough research Cody decided it was best to start with a longboard. Longer and heavier, they offer more stability and an easier popup.
We headed to Batu Belig for our first attempt...no lessons, just what we have seen or read.
We both failed. The waves were pretty big and formed quickly thanks to a large drop off right at the shore. We both managed to get up but only while riding the whitewater of the break. Paddling up to speed to catch the wave was the biggest challenge. The one time I managed to do so, I didn't lean back enough and was knocked over the nose of the board into the surf.
To be honest, neither of us had the shoulder strength to go more than thirty minutes. In any case it was good fun, and quickly showed us we would not be riding the big coral breaks any time soon.
Pura Luhur Batukau
A temple sitting at the top of Gunung Batukau, promised be one of the more remote, less touristy, and more spiritual of Bali's temples. It stood up to it's reputation. The temple was almost empty save a few tourists and people sitting in closed off areas, presumably conducting acts of spiritual worship (a drawback of the remoteness is the lack of info, though in my opinion it's a good trade). We were witness to a man and woman involved in a ceremony. They were standing with another man (I would say he was the equivelant of a priest but I don't know the correct term...again remoteness=lack of info) who was leading this ritual. The couple was of middle age and dawned white sarongs and shirts. They stood facing the priest and a small fountain in a garden, enclosed by trees and a large stone stupa. Though weddings are generally quite a large ordeal with many people, held in a home, the situation struck me as being some sort of marital or relational ritual.
Moving through the temple, a man sat still and silent, also dressed in all white. He seemed to be praying. Macaque monkeys were approaching his edible offerings that lay in front of him though they dared not touch it.
The temple itself was small, however of all the temples I have been to, this one felt like the most culturally relevant I have been to. Angkor Wat and Borobudur are certainly architectural wonders and undoubtedly have their places in the spiritual and cultural foundations of the countries in which they reside. However they are heavily touristic and seem to act more as a major source of income for the tourist industry (which is not a bad thing). 
Rice Terraces of Jatiluwih
From the temple we headed down the mountain a little to the rice terraces of Jatiluwih (meaning "truly marvelous"). Of the countless hillside rice terraces I have seen these were by far the most impressive I have seen. Standing at one corner, the paddies stretched across the valley at least half a kilometer in each direction. The only downside was that the rice was almost ready to harvest, creating a bushy appearance. The most picturesque paddies are the young ones that still show water and reflect the sun, creating a beautiful array of shiny rectangular steps with lush green outlines. 
From the terraces we headed back down toward Kuta, but stopped off at Tanah Lot. This temple sits precariously on top of a rock in the middle of the ocean. It was supposed to be an impressive sight. It turned out, though, that it was just another tourist herding station of mazes and touts. We walked along the bluff past the temple to fins some hidden bays where local surfers had sneaked in to catch some of the secret breaks that were not over populated with tourists.



Surfing Bali day 2:

The first beach was too much. We decided we should go to Kuta, despite the crowds. The beach was supposed to have easier breaks, making for a better learning environment (especially for two stubborn men who don't want to spend the money on lessons).
The second day only proved to be a mild improvement. We both caught some small waves before they broke into whitewater. Due to weather and conditions we never made it back out, also I was a still sick with that cough. 

We headed back to Bali for a night before leaving for the Gili Islands. I decided that, instead of paying outrageous medical bills to heal my cough, I would take the naturopathic route. When I was in Cambodia I had coining done when I visited an orphanage. This involved some of the kids dragging a small pizza-cutter-shaped instrument over my skin and breaking the blood vessels underneath. The process is meant to boost your immune system and fight whatever ailment you have. I decided to try out cupping. The treatment began with a massage. I can now say with confidence that I know how it feels to be trampled by stampeding bulls. I couldn't lean my back against a chair without wincing in pain for a few days. The next step involved taking plastic cups and coating them with a flammable substance on the inside. The substance is then ignited and the cup is placed on the back. As the flame burns, oxygen is used up and a suction is created. It burns and pinches a little but it's not too bad. The next day I had circular bruises all over my back but my cough immediately got better. Chalk up another one for the naturopathic community.

I also bought a small guitar before we left for $20. I missed playing mine too much, and I knew we would have a lot of free time on the Gili Islands...this could prove to be quite the hassle later on...we shall see. 

*****Photos c/o Cody Rook******
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