|Subject: Bali Travelogue|
Dear Fellow Travelers,
We are happy to be home, but we had a good time in Bali, too. Bali is different, and seeing
it was a great adventure. It is rainy season, but the weather cooperated for us: rain at
night; tropical showers during the day.
Bali, however, definitely a third world country. The family car, for most, is a motor scooter.
90% of the traffic on the narrow roads is as follows: Dad, frequently the only one with a
helmet, mom, and baby or two held precariously between parents, on the family car, a motor
Rules of the road: he who has biggest car has the right of way. Yet they are surprisingly
courteous, most of the time, and wave someone ahead if safe to pass.
We were so very glad to have hired a driver/guide with his car, rather than renting a car
and trying to drive under those conditions. Incidentally, they drive on the left side of
the road, just like we are experiencing at the present time in Australia. Can't imagine the
tourists we saw trying to drive Bali style on narrow, unmarked roads, with ditches running
on both sides of the narrow, but paved roads. Hati hati, pronounced hot tea, hot tea, is
the Balinese word for be careful. Must admit, hati hati came to mind frequently as we watched
the motor scooters whiz by with unhelmeted babies, children, well, everyone without helmets,
although helmets are required by law. Many of the drivers did have helmets, but passengers
We also were very nervous one afternoon as Wayan, our guide, sped off and down the mountain
range we had crossed in an absolute deluge! It rained every day we were in Bali, but usually
Interesting note: all children's first names reveal their order of birth. For instance, Wayan
is first born, Martei (sp?)is second born, etc. How did we learn this? Well, while introducing
myself to a friendly guard at our hotel, I said my name was Marty. He said: that is my name,
too. Turns out he was second born in his family. I then explained to him I was Wayan Marty.
There is no central government on Bali. All people belong to a village, including the ex
pats, where elders rule and pontificate. When we asked why everyone had to belong to a village,
it was explained that it was for everyone in the village's (even the ex pats) own protection,
and so that someone could protect, help them and look after them. As there is no central
government, there is no organized garbage collection or dog catcher. There are wild dogs
wandering around everywhere, and we mean *everywhere*, as well as lots of wild chickens.
There are orange crate width and depth canals on both sides of almost all roads. They carry
the flooding water from all the rain. You see people bathing in them, washing their clothes
in them, washing dishes, etc.. We saw travelers (locals) doing their toilet in the bushes
by the canals, and then washing their backsides with water from the canal! Yikes. They have
the holes for toilets, similar to the Eiffel Tower toilets.
The rice paddies are a marvel of sculptured terraces, like Japan, which utilizes its precious,
little land mass as well. The terraces work as their irrigation system, since they have plenty
of rain. As one paddy fills with water, it overflows to the next. Cows stand in the paddies
as well as ducks and geese. The ducks are brought in to eat excess, floating rice. They are
being raised for food, too, obviously. Don't know why the cows are in there, too (forgot
Temples, temples everywhere. Each village has a temple; each home has a temple; each place
of employment has a temple. We had to rent sarongs to be allowed inside the more famous temples.
There are offerings everywhere, including on the dashboard on the inside of all cars. The
Balinese people are predominantly Hindu, then Buddhist, and lastly Muslim. It appears as
if the Balinese are not too fond of the militant, extremist Muslims or their Indonesian connection
and would like to be independent. The bombing in October last year has devastated Bali's
economy. Resorts, restaurants and normal tourist haunts are virtually empty. The street hawkers
The Balinese people, themselves, have the sweetest of smiles, and the gentlest of ways. We
were told most of the very aggressive street hawkers are Javanese. Our worst experience was
downtown Kuta, where you are touched and jostled by very insistent street vendors. So, we
escaped into the mountains, where the volcanoes are and had a wonderful buffet lunch, traditional
buffet. Shopping, shopping, shopping. That is what Marghe had fun doing in Ubud.
Food was great. Traditional Balinese is much too hot for normal palates, but Marty has the
constitution of a goat: he loves it hot and spicy! We even found a couple of Indian restaurants
as well, but our try at Mexican food produced 'Bali Belly' for Marty who ate the lettuce.
Each restaurant had an inner garden with a water feature and usually koi. The gardens were
lush, green everywhere, and so welcome to our eyes after living in the drought condition
found in Australia.
We enjoyed one of the many traditional Balinese dances, including Legong, which is intricate,
complex, and performed by young girls. The music was cacophonic to our inexperienced ears.
It is called gamelan music and consists of xylophones, drums, cymbals, and a reed flute of
some sort (very repetitive). We enjoyed hearing the gamelan music at the Legong performances
we saw. Instruments for the Legong dances were unusual, including cymbals that sat inside
of a make believe turtle. They have no stringed instruments that we saw at the dances we
On our last day there, we asked our guide what we should see the last day before going to
the airport. He had a wonderful suggestion, a traditional Bali dance performance: Kecak Sanghyang
Dances. The first was called Ramayana, is the fable of beautiful Sita, wife of Prince Rama,
being rescued from the wicked king Rahwana, the monkey army, and other lecherous figures.
This was followed by two maidens performing the Dedari Dance, and finally came the genuine
fire dance. The young boy, in a horse costume, must have been in a trance as he repeatedly
ran through burning coconut husks and even sat in the hot coals. The Ramayana uses a male
chorus, without musical instruments.
As we were leaving and in the business class lounge, a ticket was given for a free massage
for either a neck and shoulder massage or foot massage offered to passengers to help them
relax on their flight. Massage is a way of life in Bali. Yahoo for that. The deluxe massage
(which Marghe enjoyed twice) came with an hour massage, and an hour body scrub, and then
a coating of yogurt on the body, a shower for washing it off, and then a soak in a warm bath
with flowers floating in the water. They seem to be tenderizing the body like tandorri chicken.
LOL. That was one of those experiences she said she was happy to do ONCE, but did it twice.
We can recommend returning to Bali. We did feel safe. Well, with the exception of the immigration
officer really getting in our faces about our war again Iraq. Not the warmest of welcomes
to this otherwise friendly country (well State of a country).
Still considering a trip to New Zealand before our Around the World trip to the US in May, June and July to see family and friends. (We will ask for traveling trips as the time draws nearer). We go home every summer, when it is winter in Australia. Although it is never very cold where we live in Coral Cove, we prefer to eschew the coldest weather time where we currently live. This year we will also see central America, Greece, India and Singapore. Happy and safe traveling to all. Marghe and Marty, in Coral Cove again.