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An Easy Day in Ubud Bali

An Easy Day

On an easy day, when Thea and I have nothing particular planned, we enjoy a pleasant Indonesian breakfast on my verandah at our Krisda Ubud Guest House and then go shopping.
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We are about a 10 minute walk to the downtown market area where lots of vendors are selling clothing and trinkets. On the main street around the market, you can also find high quality statuettes, carvings and paintings; the creativity and workmanship is amazing.

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Hippie/New Age

There is also a strong Hippie/New Age contingent as well.

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One Bedroom Villa

I did little research to see what it would cost to live here... This one bedroom villa only goes for $285K US!!

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The Market

The market itself is good for testing your negotiation skills. They always ask an outrageous price, and you have to respond with an equally outrageous offer. After a bit of banter, you end up paying more than you thought you would, ... but the price difference in our terms is not really much. To enjoy the process, you shouldn't think of this as a competition, where bringing the price down means you win and they loose, but rather you have to identify how much you want the item, and work up to a price that reflects your want... Of course you can always walk away.... What I love about Ubud, is they will take no for an answer, and not continually pester you.

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The only thing I found missing in the market was a good beer bottle opener that wasn't shaped like a penis... This is the only type they sell... All I can say is, if size matters, you can find it here.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 19:39 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Ubud Monkey Forest

Monkey Forest

Ubud has a little monkey forest preserve, where the monkeys interact with the visitors . it is not very big, I estimate about 20 Acres in size. A couple of researchers from Belgium came here and did a count: 6 troops with about 500 monkeys.... that must have been a real hardship for them ;)....

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People can walk through this habitat and watch, photograph, and feed the monkeys. There is a woman who sells small bananas to the visitors, and if she says the word "picture", one of the nearby monkeys will climb up the back of the visitor holding her new bundle of bananas, lie on her head and try to grab a banana. That is quite the quite the shock if you are not expecting it.

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There was also a monkey basketball player... You can see him here rolling the ball.

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Over a creek in the Centre of the compound was a giant Ficus Benyamina tree; it was huge! with a lot of roots coming down from the branches.

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And of course the monkeys were up to all sorts of antics, like grooming, mugging for the camera and of course trying to steal any exposed bottle from your pack or person... They especially loved juice & soft drinks.

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The monkeys were generally peaceful, but every once in a while you would hear screeching and a kerfuffle as some power struggle between troops would occur....

They had a temple of/for monkeys, it lots of provocative statues. They also had a grave yard where they buried thee dead monkeys. And like they do for humans, they exhume the dead every 5 years and have a mass cremation on an especially auspicious day.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 19:51 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Motor-Scootering in Bali

Motorscooter

Driving a Motor-Scooter in Bali is a distinct challenge. Not only do they drive on the other side of the road (i.e. on the left side instead of the right), but at first glance, when you see them on the road, it all looks like mayhem! You see scooters passing cars on both the right and the left sides. You see them passing cars, between on coming cars,... You see them passing cars on the sidewalk (though sidewalk is a generous word for it).

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I must admit, at first I was very leary of the proposal. But after watching them for a little while, I began to understand the pattern.

First of all, most of the roads in Bali are only 2 lanes at best; then cars & trucks will stop or park on the side of the road, thereby blocking a good part of the lane. Once blocked, cars often get into terrible traffic jams. Scooters on the other hand, will take every opportunity to by-pass these jams.

Another mitigating factor is the speed that cars and scooters travel; on the open road, it is between 40-60 Kph, but in any traffic, they slow down to 20-30 Kph, so in affect, they are not going very fast when they do these scary maneouvers.

Another rule is if you can't pass, or get around the person ahead, you wait... You never hear a car/scooter horn in anger... though they do often give a quick short toot, as a heads up, to let those in front know they are there.

Riding to Batur

So I bit the bullet and rented a scooter. I wanted to see the Batur Volcano, and I thought this would be a good proving ground for my luck and skill. (No, Thea did not come with me, I did not want to add that risk to this unproven adventure.)

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Actually I got the hang of it quite quickly, especially since I tied a sock to the left rear view mirror to remind me on what side I should be driving.
Below is where you buy gas. There are very few real gas stations, but there are these small shops selling gas in one & two litre containers every few kilometers
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And yes, it was a wonderful (and uneventful) ride.

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Reprise

Given the success of the solo ride, I did it the next day with Thea.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 03:10 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Gili Air island

Fast Boat to Gili Air

Ubud is fun, but there are times when you need to run awayy to the beach. Thea had done the research, (she is so good at that) and we booked two nights at a very nice beach hotel on the east side of Gili Air island. This is a tiny island about an hour and a half from Bali by fast boat (it is not a hydrofoil, but it does go quite fast).

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No Traffic

This island is special because it prohibits car & motorbike traffic, so you see produce, construction material and of course tourists being chauffeured around on pony carts.

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The Beach

Another draw for this place, other than being small, (you can walk the beach around the island in 2 hours), is its "bath water" warm water. You see lots people sitting or lying in knee deep water just off the beach. It really isn't a beach for swimming and frolicking though, just 10 meters out is a shin deep sand and sea grass plain (with sea urchins and broken coral) that you need to traverse to get to swimable water.

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The Reef

The island's real claim to fame though, are the many reefs and wrecks just off shore. Thea and I rented snorkels and fins and swam out to the reef just a couple hundred meters off the east side of the island. There is a strong current here, so we didn't have to swim very hard, we just floated along and we saw so many beautiful fish; it was fantastic!
We saw 2 sea turtles about 2 feet long, eating and then going up for air before moving on to the next course of their meal.
As we floated along we found sections of the reef had such clear water that the colors and markings on the fish were brilliant from the reflected sunlight. There were so many fish, neon blue, bright yellow, and some florescent with multiple colours; and not just one or two, but schools of them. These were the most beautiful fish I saw outside of the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately my camera is doesn't like water, so I don't have pictures.

As you can see from these pictures however, there are lots of large branching coral fragments on the shore line. We saw very few pieces of branching coral on the reef, but lots of brain coral. Some places where the water was cooler, we saw a bush like growth, I think it is a type of coral, but it could also be a plant (though it was purple and not green).

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Enjoying the Vibe

After we did our island promenade, and then our tour of thee reefs, we did the other thing we really enjoy, lying by the beach and enjoying the vibe.
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Sun Set & Sun Rise

This place is so nice, it feels like paradise ... so if Heaven is like this, I think I'll become a believer... I want to come back here again.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 02:36 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Ubud Cremation Ceremony

Getting Ready

Miss Kadek at the Krisda Ubud Guest House, told us about the Royal Cremation Ceremony coming up in Ubud on Thursday the 13th and asked if we were interested in seeing it. This was going to be a big deal in the city and though we were not invited to the private part, if we dressed properly we could go into the temple before and see the preparations. Kadek is such a nice person, she offered to lend us some clothes and dress us up properly. Here she is helping Thea into her beautiful Balinese ensemble.

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She also dressed me up as well... My outfit was made of 2 different sarongs and a sash cord, plus my hat. She has true design flair and attention to detail; she gave both of us frangipani flowers from her garden to put behind our ear.

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As we walked to the starting point of the ceremony (between the Pura Desa Temple, and the Ubud Palace) we were complimented quite often on our stylish clothes... even by sarong sellers.

It was only 10 AM and the public part of the ceremony only started at noon, but we wanted to see some of the preparations.

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You can see 2 floats, the large Royal Bull in the fore ground and the multi-storied Temple structure in the background. That is a detachable ramp in front of it.

The Bull is well decorated and anatomically correct and was designed to be carried by a large number of participants.

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The Temple was also highly decorated and very tall! It seemed to me that this one would be the most challenging one to carry.

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Pura Desa Temple

Since we were dressed properly, we could go into the Pura Desa Temple and see some of the preparations for the private part of the ceremony.

Here is Thea beside gilded doors, and I am sending beside Barong... (I have a natural affection and interest in this protective god).

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As we strolled deeper into the private part of the temple complex, we came across a Gamelan Orchestra setting up. They play an important part in the ceremony.

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This is very much a community affair and signs of the local businesses that have helped fund the ceremony are displayed.

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We strolled deeper into the temple complex and found where the private ceremony was to take place. The Women in Orange seem to be part of the organizing committee.

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We then walked to the cemetery, a good 15 minute away, with the last part up a steep road. Here we met Kadek's sister, who showed us where the Cremation was to take place.

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Waiting for the Procession

The procession to the cemetery was scheduled to start around noon, and people were milling around in the shade, out of the hot sun as much as possible. In the meantime, the sarong ladies were using this opportunity to sell some of their wares. Finally something started around 3 pm when they closed off traffic and the water trucks began washing the route to the cemetery.

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The band arrived next and we knew things had really started. People soon began carrying things up the ramp to the temple float, some small packages and then the coffin of the Royal Family member.

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The Procession

We moved down the street a ways to find a good vantage point to watch the procession go by and then follow it to the cemetery. First came the ceremonial Bull, carried by dozens of young men. They all were wearing a white tee shirt with the event and date, on the back.

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Next came the band and the women carrying offerings.

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Then came the Temple float, symbolically pulled by members of the Royal Family and other mourners. Its true height could now be appreciated as it came down the street. There are 2 temple priests high on the structure, one leads the way for the spirits and the other enhances the bearers fortitude through Devine intervention.

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The Hill

The bearers would literally run with the temple and then stop for a rest. As they put it down it would tilt precariously. They did this a few times until they reached the steep hill where the road veered off and was very narrow; at that point and one side of the float had to tilt the temple extremely precariously to negotiate the turn.

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Through muscle, determination and divine intervention the temple made its way safely up the hill and to the cemetery.

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The Cremation

After a rest and some prayers, they unloaded the coffin from the temple and paraded it around the Bull.
At the same time, they cut the back off the Bull and laid the body and offerings into it.

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After a members of the Royal Family lit the Bull using incense sticks, it began to burn and the body was cremated.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 19:42 Archived in Indonesia Comments (3)

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