Memories of Bali

Day 1
– started the day with a banana waffle sandwich, brewed Bali coffee & some fruits, served by our hostel, Argosoka Bungalows. We decided to stay in Ubud because it is known to be the heart of Balinese royal family and art. It is located in the cool mountains just an hour drive north of the airport. It is located in Ji. Wanara, (Monkey Forest), Ubud.
For contacts, you may call Tel no: 0361-970912 or email at argasokabungalows@yahoo.co.id.

– went to see a cultural Barong dance (a battle between the good & the bad) in Batubulan. It is one of the famous dance for tourists depicting a battle between good (the barong) and the bad (the rangda). The barong is a half dog, half lion and a rangda is a witch. It is basically a display of colorful costumes and graceful dance moves. It is performed everyday in Batubulan at around 9:30am. Also shown in Puri Saren and Catur Eka Budi at different schedules.

– went to see how they process handmade Batik in Sukawati.

– visited Bali Marine and Safari Park though we didn’t avail of the tour due to time constraints.

– prayed at Besakih temple (also known as the Mother Temple of Bali) which is over a thousand years old. Our guide told us that we are quite lucky to be in time to witness their Full Moon festival in Besakih. It is an auspicious day today to visit the temple. Besakih Temple is the biggest Hindu temple in Bali which the local people call Pura Besakih. It has a beautiful view from the top of temple area where we can see the wide nature view of the ocean. Besakih Temple is located in Besakih countryside, Rendang sub district, Karangasem regency, east part of the island. It is located in southwest side of mount Agung, the biggest mounts in Bali. It is about 2 hours away from Bali’s International Airport by car to the east part of Bali and right located in Besakih Village, Rendang – Karangasem Regency.

– tasted 6 types of coffee: Luwak coffee, Bali coffee, ginseng coffee, ginger tea, rosela tea, lemon tea, Bali tea, lemon grass tea and vanilla coffee. Also, there are spices, massage oil, aromotherapy oils and home spa stuffs at Satria Agrowisata. Kopi luwak or civet coffee, is the world’s most expensive and low-production varieties of coffee. It is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and other related civets, then passed through its digestive tract. A civet eats the berries for their fleshy pulp. In the digestive tract, the civets’ proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet’s intestines the beans are then defecated, keeping their shape. After gathering, thorough washing, sun drying, light roasting and brewing, these beans yield an aromatic coffee with much less bitterness. This coffee is widely noted as the most expensive coffee in the world with prices reaching €400 per kilogram ($160 per pound). Also, we were introduced to Bali’s botanical garden where we shoved all kinds of fruits and spices right under our noses. It is owned by Dewa Gede Asmara Guna, and is located in Jl. Raya Tampaksiring-Kintamani Br. Basangambu.
For contacts, you may call 08179793020 or email stria-agro@yahoo.com for details.

– had late lunch at a resto overlooking Mt. Batur it’s lake in Kintamani. Folklore tells us that a giant named Batur was buried there. “A long time ago, there lived on the island of Bali a giant-like creature named Jidanbou. The people of Bali used to say that Jidanbou was a destroyer as well as a creator. He was satisfied with the meal, but this meant for the Balinese people enough food for a thousand man. Difficulties arose when the first time the barn were almost empty and the new harvest was still a long way of. This made Jidanbou wild with great anger. In his hunger, he destroyed all the houses and even all the temples. It made the Balinese turn to rage. So, they came together to plan steps to oppose this powerful giant by using his stupidity. They asked Jidanbou to build them a very deep well, and rebuild all the houses and temples he had destroyed. After they fed Jidanbou, he began to dig a deep hole. One day, he had eaten to much. He fell a sleep in the hole. The oldest man in the village give a sign, and the villagers began to throw the limestone they had collected before into the hole. The limestone made the water inside the hole boiling. Jidanbou was buried alive. Then the water in the well rose higher and higher until at last it overflowed and formed Lake Batur. The mound of earth dug from the well by Jidanbou is known as Mount ” (lifted from an article in Google).

– witnessed the cleansing ritual in Pura Tirta Empul, a temple built around a sacred spring wherein according to the locals, you can bathe to cleanse mind and soul from bad dreams and thoughts. “The Tirta Empul Temple includes the traditional Balinese split gate along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Mt. Batur, and Indra. There is also a large open pavilion in the main courtyard, useful for relaxing in the shade. But the main attraction here is a long rectangular pool carved of stone, filled with koi and fed by the sacred spring via 12 fountains. Worshippers first make an offering at the temple, then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray. Many collect the holy water in bottles to take home. Nearby there are two smaller pools fed by the spring. Overlooking the temple on a hill above is a suprisingly modern building: the Government Palace, built in 1954. Originally a residence for Dutch officials, it was later used by former President Soekarno during his frequent trips to Bali. Pura Tirta Empul is located in the village of Tampak Siring, accessible by public transportation from Ubud. The souvenir stands outside the temple specialize in the local craft, carved bone jewelry.” (lifted from Wikipedia)

– bought some uniquely Bali accessories made of Cow’s bone in one of Ubud’s boutique.

– I thought I died and gone to heaven when I experienced the very rejuvenating massage by a very young & adept Balinese masseuse in the streets of Ubud at a very cheap price (around USD6.00)

– night cap of hot porridge in our hostel, drowned with a flavorful Jasmine tea.

A truly unique, eventful day!

Day 2:
-started the day by visiting Eat, Pray, Love’s Ketut Liyer took some pictures with him since I am too cynical to have my palm read by a medicine man. When you plan to visit this medicine man, make sure to arrive early and secure an appointment number. He sees an average of 30 people from all over the world, mostly ladies wanting to know their luck about love.

– went gaga over shopping at the Ubud market where there is a handful of bags, jewelries, keychains (they have Phallus keychains!), batiks, etc.

-went to the monkey forest but didn’t go inside because some reviews told us that the monkeys are skillful in stealing (omg!)

– proceeded to Tanah Lot, a temple by the beach side where there is an ongoing Full Moon Festival.
” Lot is located in Tabanan, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Denpasar, the temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 15th-century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island’s beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples were established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. However, the temple had significant Hindu influence. At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. A giant snake purportedly protects the temple, which was created from Nirartha’s scarf when he established the island.” (lifted from wikipedia).

– saw the 2002 bombing site where around people died in Bali in the tourist district. The attack was claimed as the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia according to the current police general, killing 202 people and injured 240 people by the convicted Jemaah Islamiyah.

– shopped at Duty Free & found out that Coach in Bali Duty Free Shop are 20% cheaper compared to Malaysia & Singapore. The Denpasar airport is quite equipped with good shops where I decided to drown myself with Baskin Robbins ice cream and Starbucks coffee.

In summary, I will recommend Bali as a place to visit. It is indeed a charming little country. Most locals are nice, perhaps, they are accustomed to a lot of tourists who are visiting their place. We are quite lucky to have Ketut as our driver for two days. He is very kind and considerate. He does a very good job of a tourist guide too. He arrives on time, and doesn’t ask for tips (but we gave a pretty good amount of tip because we are impressed by his services). He told us that he used to work in one of Denpasar’s hotel but when he got married, he decided to resign and work as a driver in his brother’s travel agency so that he could take care of his family. He told us that he can’t facilitate prayer and worship time when he is still employed in the hotel. Which makes me think that religion and family are indeed the core of Balinese living. You may contact him through this number: +6281338769076 or email him at wayanbion@yahoo.com. Perhaps the only disappointment I have is with our guardian and guide at the Besakih Temple. He asked a quite pricey guide fee. And when we prayed to one of the temple in Besakih, he told us that our money offering was not enough. Maybe I am just used here in the Philippines wherein you give offerings to your local church according to your own generosity.

I come to realize also that what Bali lacks in material and industrial prosperity, they make up for spiritual and cultural “wealth”. For an art enthusiast like me, Ubud is like heaven on earth. Everywhere, there are temples, museums and art galleries. How ironic though that most of the fashion boutiques and stores were owned by foreigners, employing Balinese attendants. For the lack better term, they became slaves in their own country. It may seem like a hasty generalization but I think countries which core of living focuses on faith and families are quite poor compared to highly industrialized countries which focuses on technology and personal abilities/skills.

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