Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas Vacation (Part 1--Picture heavy)

Me and the wife went to Bali.

The wife decided she wanted to try a Bali spa, and the price for the trip was right so we went. We spent 5 days, and one day in Singapore. It was fantastic.

We got a whole Villa, with a private pool and a maid (MAID!).

It was a two bedroom house with marble floors, full kitchen, and geckos.

We saw tons of amazing things. The first day, we hired a guide and a car to take us all over the island.

Our guide, named Made Buddha Dharma but called Bud-chan, was fluent in Japanese; tourism is the #1 industry in Bali, and the Japanese are the biggest market.

Bud-chan is showing us some 2000 year old terraced rice fields. Off camera, some adorable little girls are trying to sell my wife postcards and pencils. It's lucky they targeted T, because I would not have been able to say no. ADORABLE they were.

They also spoke Japanese.

We had lunch at this buffet restaurant overlooking a volcanic valley. To the right is Lake Batur, which wraps around Mt. Batur, Bali's most active volcano. It was too cloudy to get a good view, but still a stunning overlook for a so-so lunch.

In the same region as Batur, known as Kintamani, we went to a Coffee and Cocoa plantation where we tried fresh roasted and ground coffee and natural cocoa, as well as got terrified by a pair of enormous, and very relaxed, Flying Foxes.

The Balinese drink their coffee in a different way: they grind the beans to a very fine powder, then put the powder directly in a cup, add hot water, and drink it all. The powder makes coffee instantly, but doesn't dissolve--you're left with a thick "mud" of coffee powder at the bottom of your cup, which is quite potent. I love it, my wife not so much.

As we drank we looked over this:

Not bad.

They also make the famous "Kopi Luwak", or "Civet Cat Coffee" in Bali. Here's the cat, or "Lowak", in question:

Pretty cute! But not, perhaps, cute enough to warrant the drinking of it's feces...(Yes, I tried it. It was a very mellow, rich coffee. Excellent, but not worth the exorbitant price, in my opinion.)

One of the things that really struck me about Bali was the statuary. It's everywhere. Every conceivable surface hosts an intricately carved statue--houses, shops, and of course temples are all covered in carvings. The stone carving business is a huge one, too...the statues are all made of a very very soft stone, so they wear away quickly in the tropical Bali weather.

Bali is 95% Hindu, and the population is very devout.

Offerings like these baskets are made 3 times a day, and placed in front of Holy statues and they are everywhere, all the time.

Bud-chan took us to a famous Temple, Tampak Sirta, where there are holy springs filling pools where worshippers bathe and pray. We were there for a holy day, so the pools were filled with worshippers. It was an amazing site, people lined up in the blue waters floating with flowers, the smell of incense in the air. I felt a real intruder, but Bud-chan insisted it was fine.

These are the springs, the water is fed from here to the pools below.

Outside the temple.

Bud-chan insisted we get into this prayer group. I was quite embarrassed. T decided to join in (she's not crazy about her face on the internet, so I whited it out). I'm wearing a sarong because shorts are not allowed in the temple.

All in all, a very impressive trip.

And only our first day!

1 comment:

Andy said...

Looks awesome mate!!