Sunday, January 13, 2013

Eight Days in Bali


Hindu temples, palm leaf offerings, stray dogs, garbage strewn, small money, beeping cars, family motorbikes, reaching, begging hands, friendly smiles even after hard bargaining, hands in thanks for all

Bali is beautiful and the Balinese are lovely, gentle people for the most part. In Sanur, we stayed at a very nice hotel, Villa Puri Ayu, that was quiet and roomy and had lovely buffet breakfasts. However, the nearby beach was not a good place for lounging, beach combing, or surfing. 

Day two saw us in the nearby touristy Kuta beach area where we found a lovely (if crowded) beach perfect for surfing. We all took surf lessons with Alex at the Big Kahuna surf school. I proudly stood up on the board my first time out. Madeline improved her surfing skills, Gabriel found a new favorite water sport, and Joe enjoyed his first time surfing.

Gabe also lucked into a group of chess players playing chess on Kuta beach and came out the all time winner in Gabriel vs. Bali while Madeline and I practiced our hard bargaining in the shops adjoining the beach.

Our residence in Nusa Lembongan (a small island off the east coast of Bali) was perched on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Bali sea. Much smaller than our prior villa, the bedroom was just a bit bigger than the queen sized bed plus an adjoining private (semi open air) bathroom. There, we learned about gecko night sounds and experienced the unfortunate heckling and hassling that accompanied our accommodations. We attempted surfing here but without success. However, the snorkeling was terrific! Great conditions-smooth, warm water and lots of colorful, friendly fish. 

Tourism has only come to this place in the last 6-10 years, so it is not nearly as built up or overrun with tourists as other places in Bali which was good (fewer people and a slower pace of life) and bad (not as many resources and options for activities). Besides tourism, seaweed farming is the other cash crop for this little island. Apparently, Indonesia is the largest producer of seaweed in the world. We watched the seaweed being farmed and dried on the island. Later, it would be shipped away to be used in all varieties of products like toothpaste, ice cream, jelly, salad dressing, soap, and in glass production.

Our final destination in Bali was Ubud, the craft and dance center of Bali. Here, I found my spiritual center. With yoga studios, lovely handicrafts, friendly people, and a fantastic ‘hippy restaurant’ (wholesome western and eastern foods served in a comfortable, clean environment, and free wifi), Ubud felt the most comfortable to me. Certainly, it didn’t hurt that our last ‘home’ in the heart of the rice paddies with ducks, cows, and geckos abounding felt like a 5 star resort. We shared the place with one young honeymooning couple, so our stay was very peaceful. We preordered all of our meals and they arrived with beauty and grace to be set upon our outdoor patio table-delicious and nutritious-just like I love! 

We spent one day on a bike trip with a delightful British expat family with kids similar ages to ours and the couple from our villa. We began the day breakfasting with a view of Mt. Batur volcano and finished the day viewing the Kecak (Fire) dance at a local outdoor venue where I got pooped on by a gecko! Our bike guide shared information about the Balinese, the Hindu religion, rice fields, and much more. 

On our other full day in Ubud, we all biked to a local craft market where Madeline and I once again tested our bargaining skills while Gabe and Joe searched out chess players with some success. Madeline and I found wonderful wood carvings and jewelry for ourselves and others and after a sweaty bike ride back to the villa, we jumped in the pool to cool off in time for our in room facials. Wow! $10 for an hour facial without having to move an inch ; ))). Joe and Gabe returned to wolf down their BLT’s and tropical mocktails. Later, the villa driver took us downtown for more shopping, another meal at our favorite restaurant, Kafe, and then to dessert and the Frog dance at Laka Leke restaurant.  

our hotel in  

our hotel in Nusa   

our hotel in Ubud:

gecko sounds:

Joe, Gabe, and giant chessboard

Hindu temple with black/white protector cloth

Sanur, seaside

Kuta beach pathway

chess at Kuta beach


Gabe playing chess

waiting for a game...

motorcycle baby

me, catching my first wave (I know I look like a speed skater!)

surf teacher and students

Joe, in action!

Gabe in balance

Madeline, doing her thing...

yummy buffet breaky at Villa Puri Ayu

our private pool at Villa Puri Ayu

birds at our bird bath at Villa Puri Ayu

me, in front of Villa Puri Ayu

Villa Puri Ayu

street to Villa Puri Ayu

Song Lambong bedroom

seaweed on Nusa Lembongan

breakfast buffet at Villa Puri Ayu

M & G's bungalow at Song Lambong

seaweed harvest

M with new dress purchase

carrying the seaweed harvest

 M walking down the beach

drying the seaweed

palm leaf offering holder

making the palm leaf offering holders

view from Song Lambong

making the holders

welcome snack of local goodies at Mandala Desa

surfboard, anyone?

in Ubud with teens

Mt. Batur

at Mt. Batur

 the herded ducks, searching for snacks...

local Jack fruit

our very expressive bicycle guide describing local roots/herbs

flight of coffees and teas at coffee plantation

me with different coffee beans

yard of Hindu family

bike group on rainy day

rice paddy fields

unripe rice

more rice paddies

biking through a wedding celebration

delicious lunch buffet

peaceful Buddha

rice paddies

still peaceful Buddha, even after I knocked it down (can you see the stakes?)

serving breakfast at Mandala Desa

our private courtyard; G playing chess with employee

exit to our outdoor shower

M and me at Kecak dance

putting out the fire in the Kecak dance (barefoot!)

Kecak dancers in the pervasive black/white (good/evil) cloth

more dancing

street kids

duck herder (for real!)

papaya tree-yum!
cow in the rice paddy outside our place

breakfast at Mandala Desa

wood carvers

sweet Balinese women

shopping in the local craft market in Ubud

me and the dancers at the Frog Dance in Ubud
Gabe's ham and cheese jaffle with chips

Nusa Lembongan


dining area at Song Lembong