Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday, Mar 21st, Lovina, Bali, Indonesia


We took a drive today from where we're staying on the beach past ancient rice fields into the interior of Bali up the mountain to the Ulan Danu Temple on Bratan Lake.  A wonderful journey past monkeys begging food, vendors asking where we are from, and billboards displaying the photos of the candidates for public office this year.  Our fellow travelers had just gotten back from an early morning boat ride to see a large group of dolphins, and I was basking near the waves in my kind of temple.

On the way, our guide (Putu) helped us understand the history and culture of each village.  As we passed the village roundabouts, each with their own statue in the center, he told us the translation of the name and the many uniquenesses of the locals and their territory.
If there was a connection to the major periods of historical conflict (Independent Kingdoms, Dutch occupation, Japanese conquest, New Republic of indonesia, Dutch re-control, Independence, Sukarno, Suharto, Tourism), he helped us integrate it into what we saw.  We competed with dozens of cruise line busses for the first time on our trip, but thankfully we had more patience (and time to spend), and they were gone before us.

On the way back home, we visited a popular market to sample fruits and look over clothing.  I bought a hat to replace one I'd lost, and Pat bought some durian she'd been eager to have where she wouldn't have to bring it back to the resort (really stinks, but delicious).  Our main guide, Pam, bought us lots of other exotic fruits.

We have the bulk of the afternoon to ourselves before dinner.  Some will use the pool, others wander.  Pat and I are chilling out in the room.  The photos just ended being sent to my Google Album for the day - the earliest time ever (5pm).  I may add some more after dinner, as there is reported to be some dancing later.

On the shore of Bratan Lake is a special temple, said to be where the last Hindu ceremony to purify through a final cremation occurs.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Wednesday, Mar 21st, Lovina, Bali, Indonesia.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tuesday, Mar 20th, Lovina, Bali, Indonesia


"Kauai on steroids" is how Pat describes Bali to a friend.  Our bus journeyed from Candidasa to Lovina today, and we stopped along the way to see two villages, a volcano within a volcano, and a temple.

Penglipuran is famous for its long rows of family-compounds all featuring the same designs.  The entrance gates are particularly striking, adorned with carved Hindu characters in lava stone.  The 226 families in the village descend from those who served bravely in the Balinese military, and include the family of our local guide.

At the northern edge of the compound is a 75 hectare bamboo forest maintained by the families which we walked through.  The beauty of its tranquility and vertical eye-popping power is overwhelming.

We also stopped at Kintamani, and admired its views of Mt Batur and Lake Batur.  The lava flows down the side of the volcano are a vivid example of the impermanence of the landscape here.  Surrounding the volcano is a larger caldera, containing a lake on several sides.  This is one of the premiere restaurant views we have seen, and are well worth the long drive.

After lunch, we drive to the Pura Beji Sangsit Temple.  The temple is dedicated to the rice goddess Dewi Sri, and its northern Balinese architecture contains large floral designs and fierce warriors.  The faded colors are more apparent here, and we wonder how spectacular they must have been centuries ago.

We returned to the Ramayana Resort for dinner, and watch a beautiful sunset across the Bali Sea.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Tuesday, Mar 20th, Lovina, Bali, Indonesia. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday, Mar 19th, Candidasa, Bali, Indonesia


We're glad the trip design lands in Bali last.  There are places with better food, stranger animals, older ruins, bigger jungles, and more challenging politics.  But few places have a more humane intersection of social, religious, cultural, artistic, and sensual experience.   

We headed out early this morning for the first of a series of days visiting parts of the island of Bali.  The awe of this place can be found in the villages, representing extended families which have fought for their identities, authority, and security for five hundred years.  And as we learn more about how they express themselves, and what traditions and customs have survived, we see the beauty of their lives.

Tenganan is a four-walled Bali Aga village of original, pre-Hindu inhabitants who we were privileged to visit.

We continued to a central moat-surrounded facility in Klung Kung, where a table and chairs beneath a wooden ceiling decorated with elaborate murals depicting punishment in hell and rewards on earth.

We ate lunch looking across rice fields to Mt. Agung, the most active volcano on Bali.  Fortunately, it was quiet today.

Quiet enough for us to ascend to Besakih, Bali's most important temple.  On the slopes of Bali's equivalent of Mount Olympus, this structure is reached by many long flights of 1,000 year old stairways passing many levels of lava stone terraces and pagodas which contain family compounds with courtyards and shrines.  This site incorporates the holy triad of temples venerating the Hindu trinity. 

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Monday, Mar 19th, Candidasa, Bali, Indonesia. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday, March 18th, Candidasa, Bali, Indonesia


Today was a flying day - from Java to Bali.  In the morning, however, we had time to walk down  Marioboro Street to do some shopping.  Pat has consistently questioned whether I should get a small backpack to carry the stuff needed to make it through these daily jaunts outside of the hotel ad bus (water, umbrella, camera accessories, maps, etc.). 

I usually stuff them in my jungle fatigue pockets, but the pants have been dropping a little low with the thin plastic belts I wear to more easily pass through the x-ray machines at airports. 

We found one at a store at least a mile down the street, making crossing three main intersections necessary twice.  Pedestrians aren't given much respect here, and you just have to use timing and a bit of bravado to make it across. 

On the way to our resort hotel tonight (Ramacandidasa Resort), we had dinner at Warung Smiley, a well-known and liked local stop run by a couple who also sponsor the local chapter of Trash Hero Candidasa.  They are great chefs, supportive community activists, and they deserve all the help we can give to them to help the young residents of Bali protect their island's environment.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Sunday, Mar 18th, Candidasa, Bali, Indonesia.

Saturday, Mar 17th, Yogyakarta, West Java, Indonesia


Last day in Java was spent at Borobudur.  What a great treasure.  Built 300 years before Ankor Wat in Cambodia, the 2 million stones it contains result in a very impressive structure.  The stupa surrounding the top contain buddhas that visitors try to reach though the holes and touch for good luck.  Monks and dedicated worshipers perform ritual clockwise circling of the four layers past story reliefs.

Because I got lost trying to reunite with the group at the rendezvous point after reaching the summit, I had to climb down the exit stairs, walk all the way around to the entrance stairs, and climb up again to try to find them.  What work and panic!  They were worried too when I didn't show up.  Sorry guys!

On the way back, we had coffee at the Original Powan Luwak Coffee Store.  Some of you who know the story of civet digestive enzymes, and how coffee beans are transformed in the pass through the intestines of this cute little creature.  I'm told it moderates the acidity, and is a highly prized taste.

  This evening, we attended a performance of the Ramayana Ballet in a large open-air theater.   The dancers were beautiful, the gamelan orchestra was superb, the story was complex and well-presented.  After 41 years of daily shows, I think they've got it together.  Don't miss it.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Saturday, Mar 17th, Yogyakarta, West Java, Indonesia.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday, Mar 16th, Yogyakarta, West Java, Indonesia


Three weeks into our travels, we're still excited.  Of course, getting up early each morning to a wonderful continental breakfast, being driven to unusual and spectacular places, having lunch at local restaurants (often at resorts in the mountains and along coasts), visiting more exciting places until late in the afternoon, returning to the hotel to freshen up and answer emails, and then heading out to dinner at another choice restaurant - isn't hard to find exciting.  But it can be exhausting too.

Prambanan is a 9th century Hindu temple compound in outside of Yogyakarta.  It is the largest in Indonesia, and one of the largest in Southeast Asia.  It is the only temple dedicated to the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), and it's content far surpass most other Hindu structures.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Friday, Mar 16th, Yogyakarta, West Java, Indonesia.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday, Mar 15th, Yogyakarta, West Java, Indonesia


Today, we drove to Taman Alum Lumbini, where a replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda (Yangon, Myanmar) was built.  The second highest pagoda outside of Myanmar, it was finished in 2010 by local Chinese buddhists who visit it on holidays. 

Our drive to the Medan Airport also included a stop along the road to see caged bats.  Some stretching three feet at wingtips, they are consumed at local dinner tables.

From Medan in Northern Sumatra, we flew across the equator to Yogyakarta, West Java, where we will be staying at the Phoenix Hotel.  A five-star hotel in the heart of the city, we'll be here for three nights while we visit Prambanan (largest Hindu compound in Indonesia), the Sultan's Golden Pavillion and private Water Castle, Borobudur (largest stuppa-style Buddhist monument in the world), and a Ramayana ballet.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Thursday, Mar 15th, Yogyakarta, West Java, Indonesia.