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Monday, April 25, 2011

Indonesia Part Eight: Getting to Know Bali

In Part Seven, we arrived in Ubud, saw a traditional Balinese Kecak Dance, and I came down with food poisoning.  We also saw some monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest.

The entrance to our hotel room

We were on a early to bed (9:30 or 10:00pm) and early to rise (5:30 or 6:00am) schedule in Indonesia, so we were in bed at 11:30pm when the earthquake hit.  We were both asleep.  I opened my eyes, not quite sure what exactly woke me up, and noticed the room was shaking.  I gradually started figuring out what was going on.  Todd asked if I was awake and then said, "Are we having an earthquake?"  I thought we were...  And then, it stopped.  We made a note in our heads of the time -- and went back to sleep.  We didn't lift our heads off of our pillows.

We checked the USGS website in the morning and confirmed that it was a 5.3 magnitude quake centered 200km south of us (124 miles).  Probably not a big deal to those who are used to earthquakes, but that was our first!

The hotel delivered Balinese breakfast to our room each morning, so we ate and then spent the morning at the pool, reading, swimming, and lounging.  I was eating better, but still feeling less than great.  I was really enjoying the Indonesian hot tea, though.

Shower near the pool
When our breakfast is delivered, two of the hotel staff delivered it.  One brought pancakes and toast, and the other brought fruit, fruit juice and tea.  On that morning, the first guy came in and Todd gave him an 8000 rupiah tip (about $1 US).  When the delivery man left, I warned Todd that the hotel book had said not to tip. Then, in came the second guy.  Well, Todd hadn't realized that there would be two (he'd forgotten after the hectic morning the day before).  So, he didn't have any more small bills (8000 is a small bill, the others were more like 250,000).  So, Todd didn't have a tip to give him.  The poor delivery guy stood and talked to us almost the whole time we were eating breakfast.  He was clearly stalling, but Todd didn't really catch on to why he was hanging around.  Finally, he left, and that's when Todd realized he was waiting for a tip -- the first guy must have tipped him off.  We vowed to make it up to him before leaving Bali, and we did - we gave him a nice tip later.

With both of our sad, upset stomachs, we decided to seek out comfort food.  We headed back through the monkey forest into Ubud and began walking around trying to find the restaurant selling pizza that Todd had seen from the car on the way to the restaurant the night before.  We started up Monkey Forest Road looking for it, then went the wrong way.  Then, we didn't want to back track all the way, so we took a road that seemed like a short cut according to the map.  But, the map wasn't drawn to scale, so we ended up completely circling the whole town.  Then, we felt as if we'd missed another road, and started to turn back.  We asked directions, only to find that when you ask a person directions in Bali, they expect you to buy something from them or pay them to drive you there.  And, they give you the longest directions possible.

Lotus flower
In all, we walked for something like an hour and a half to two hours, about 6 miles, and then when we finally found the pizza place, we decided we didn't want to eat there and went to a different restaurant up the road.  These are Kim & Todd adventures.  We did get pizza, and we stopped to eat just in time, because a big rainstorm passed while we were eating.

We also found a geocache!  It was located in a school for disabled children in Ubud.  I left a Geocoin there.  I want to do a little summary of Geocaching in a later post, so I won't go into detail.

We headed back to the hotel, and this time decided to pay the money to go through the Monkey Forest rather than walking around it.  It was getting dark and cloudy because of the rainstorm (and it was getting late), and so we only stayed for a little while.  Todd got some more photos, and I took some more video:

Kim and Todd in the Monkey Forest

While in the Monkey Forest, a Balinese man approached us and started telling us about the Monkey Forest.  We were near the cemetery, so he was telling us about that and then said he would show us the temple, so we followed him to it.  It wasn't open to go inside, but he stood and talked about it.  Then, he got out some paintings (small, about 4x6) and said he'd painted them and would we buy one?  We did buy one, but there was a clear pattern going on in Bali that if someone was being friendly and helping you, it meant that they wanted to sell you something.

I do love the Balinese people.  They have an incredibly unique and amazing culture.  Everything was so much different than being at home, and in general the people were friendly and fantastic.  I felt safe everywhere I went, and I never once felt unwelcome.  When we were talking to the man in the monkey forest, he let us know that there would be a Balinese funeral the next day at the Ubud Palace.  He was the first to invite us to the funeral, and we would be invited again and again by a total of about 6 to 8 different people.  It really felt like they were asking us to come see their culture, that we should go because we would get to experience Balinese culture up close and first hand, and that it was not to be missed.  It made us feel included and wanted.

All of that being said, though, the constant pressure to buy things, whether souvenirs or a massage or a taxi ride was just exhausting.  Whenever we talked to a local and didn't intend on purchasing anything, it would stress me out.  And, it was impossible to just be left alone while out on the street.  Todd even tried pretending that he only spoke German, but the Balinese person that he tried that on spoke German.  I don't think he was fooled either, because Todd was wearing a Margaritaville Key West T-Shirt.

Enjoying a rice paddy hike on our last day in Ubud
That evening, we chose to try a restaurant on Monkey Forest Road called Cinta Grill.  Their specialty is Mojitos, so I got one to try.  It was delicious, but my stomach wasn't quite ready for something like that.  I also got a fish special that was a little spicy and garlicky.  Delicious food, and I would have loved it under normal circumstances, but I couldn't quite finish it.  Todd got their ribs and they were very, very good.
Ducks (there's actually a whole family there) in the rice paddies

Rice Paddies and scarecrows
The next morning, we started out our last day in Bali earlier than the others.  We had breakfast at 7am, and then took the hotel's free shuttle to the head of a rice paddy trail.  It was on the map that we had from the hotel, and was also featured in our Bali travel guide.  However, after the shuttle dropped us off, we couldn't figure out where the trail head was.  We tried to follow the map and walked down the road a little bit.  It was a steep downhill that went under a river (the river went over a bridge rather than the road going over the river).  There was a ton of water coming down the hill and into the road, along with a bunch of algae and slime.  My first thing to do that day turned out to be to slip and fall in the algae, so that I landed on my side.  I totally covered my right side with slimy algae and mud, and I bruised my side.  Typical.

I cleaned off and we ended up discovering that the trail head was back the way we came.  A nice tour guide showed us where we needed to go, and tried to sell us a full day tour for the next day.  We went up the hill, finally seeing that the sign for the rice paddy walk was at the top of the hill.  We followed the path for a while.  We were searching for another Geocache, but didn't find it.  We did get to learn a lot about rice farming in Indonesia.  So much is done by hand and it is SO HOT in the rice paddies!  We met up with some other Americans (first we'd seen since Sorong) who were also walking and taking photos along the trail.  Todd got some excellent photos, and we got some exercise.  We walked about another 4 or 5 miles through the rice paddies, and we remembered to bring enough water along!!
Rice paddies in Ubud

We didn't do the full circle because we wanted to make it back into town to see the funeral/cremation that was going on at the palace that day.  So, we headed back down the hill and gave up on the Geocache.

Stay tuned for part nine where Todd and I attend an incredible Balinese Funeral, go to a lovely Valentines Day Dinner, and the bite heard around the world...

1 comment:

misszippy said...

How great to take all of that in! It sounds incredible. And I love the frog shower.

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