Monday, July 11, 2011

Bali Days! Day two,

- Fri.  June 3, 2011. 

First impressions in the hotel lobby (after
they served us rose water)

Hotel pool area

I woke up fairly early and met Trevor’s family for breakfast at the hotel.  The first few days in Bali I actually slept pretty good, woke up once or twice each night and woke up pretty early each morning by because at least part of each or the first 3 days way driving and the rest was mostly just walking and taking pictures I didn’t wear out or anything. The sleep I got was enough.

Balinese Dancer

I love this photo. It is of an instrument player for the dance.
For a long time though I was wondering "What does this
photo say? What does it convey?" Because it has so little
in the surroundings to tell you anything. All you have is the
information that he is playing and instrument and the
expression of him face.
It hit me later (well after I had taken it) that I had captured
I glimpse of what this "Traditional dance" has become
for the Balinese. Because this dance, though at one
point had been part of their religion, is now merely
a show for tourism, a means of income, I think it has
become empty to them. These people are skilled, dancer
and instrumentalist alike. This man is in the middle of playing
one of the lead roles on one of the lead instruments. I pray
that the Balinese people will see the emptiness of all
their rituals not just their dance, and then instead use these
awesome talents and skills for God's glory.
Anyway, that morning around 9:00am I took off with my driver whose name is Komang, Komang Oka. (I still have his business card).  Now at this point I was willing to just let him take me where he thought was good. He know I wanted pictures, and he knew I wanted to see Bali.  By the beginning of the second day I started to realize that my idea of seeing Bali and his were a little different, but like I said, at this point I was ready to go where he suggested.  So first off, not 10 min from the hotel we stopped and I watched a traditional Balinese dance. It was very interesting to watch (especially the first time), very different in from any experience I've had before though I had seen pictures of this kind of thing.  I want to include some video and music in this blog if I can so that you can get a better idea of what it is like.  (I've decided to include that on another day. The when I captured it and also to give me a chance to figure out how you post music without video)  The dance was also a story. It involved a Tiger (or lion, hard to tell) and a monkey as well as good and bad figures of the story. I was busy with pictures so I did not read the story sheet they gave me very closely though I think I still have it.

After the dance we visited the craft, or artisan villages. First the cloth making village, the method and design of their cloth is called "Batik". It is an interesting process involving a wax type stuff to manipulate the dye I think. Next was the silver and gold craft village with demonstration of how the silver was crafted. Last was the painting village. We skipped the woodcarving and stone working places for now.  Seeing these three villages, and in the next two days the beach and market places, confirmed what I had read and heard that the Balinese are very artistic and VERY able with their hands to create beautiful work.
At each of these craft villages my driver took me to the one shop that best catered to tourists with their demonstrations and guides. Looking back now and what I started to realize on the next day is that I would have rather wandered through the villages on my own, making my own contacts, and initiating conversation on my own and being able to see a greater variety of work, some maybe owned by a family instead of a slick tourist company.  If ever I get to do something like that again I will definitely be employing a different approach. One aimed more at the people (my interest) and less at their merchandise as interesting as it is.

I had three more adventures that day, my first day on the road, and one more mentionable.  First, as we were driving through a more wooded area I saw off through the trees a clearing where a group of boys where playing soccer. It was a very narrow road, but I told my driver what I had seen and asked if we could turn around and go back so I could take some pictures.  It took him a minute to realize that I wanted to turn and go back right now (we were on our way to a mountain over look tourist picture spot (actually it was a volcano))  but he did with a little trouble and we went back. It was about 5:00pm or so. Well as soon as those boys saw my big black camera they were all like "PHOTO! Oh yeah Look at me" except all but "photo was in Indonesian, but I got the idea. They were posing and stuff and it took me awhile to get them to go back to there game and before they did they made it very clear that they wanted me to join in with them.  Well I took a few pictures but it wasn't very long before I couldn't resits any more. I told them I would join in.  At this time (actually when I was trying to get them to play the game instead of posing and doing group photos) I figured out that only one of the boys knew English and he was the one I did my explaining through from then on. So I played soccer with a bunch of Balinese boys and it was awesome!  I only played for about 20 min but in that time I managed to score 2 goals! Amazing! Though I do think they were going easy on me a little and besides that I was the only one with shoes on (big shoes to them) and I was bigger than them, but all the same I was pretty happy with those two goals.  After playing with them I told them I wanted to get some video of them before I went ( I was remembering that my driver was waiting for me) I took some video, almost got knocked in the head with the ball (actually the camera which was worse), got some cool foot work, and then one final goal before I left. On the last goal I explained before hand that they would run around with their hands in the air after they scored shouting "GOALLLLL" it would be much more impressive video.  I got BETTER than that!  I got the running, shouting, and then doing a DANCE for the camera after they scored their goal.  Good stuff!  Well after I got back to the car and answered to my driver's question that "Yes! this was a very good spot for pictures" I had him teach me my first four words in Indonesian that I actually remembered (I practiced with him each day) "Saya mau burrmine sepoc-bola"- I want to play soccer.  And though I did learn a few other words I would joke with the locals that I only knew 4 words (Saya mua burrmine sepoc-bola) and they would usually laugh a little and conversation would go from there (if they know English).  I was happy with my four words even though I didn't get to use them in context very much I did tell just about everyone that "I want to play soccer".

The adventure with the Bali coffee shop actually came before the soccer game I think. And let me tell you folks, I've said time and again and still hold to it, Starbucks ain't got nothin' on "Bali coffee".  So my driver had asked me several times if I would like some "Bali coffee" and me liking coffee answered "Yes, I'm fine with stopping for some coffee along the way".  So my driver announces "Now we are going to "Bali coffee". We pulled up to this gate that a man opened pretty quickly (my driver Komang had to pay him to let us out though) and we pulled into this gravel parking lot with a few other cars there. I did not see any coffee shop as I got out of the car, only trees on all sides (besides the gate behind me), but Komang pointed out a path through the trees and he said "You follow the path and there will be people and you can get Bali coffee".  So I followed the path through the trees and when it opened up there was a small waterfall (or big fountain) on my left, a little shop on my right, and the path leading down to a overlook with a magnificent view (especially for a coffee house) with tables and chairs.  At first I was confused as to what I was supposed to do. Then I saw another small shelter over to the left a ways. I went over to investigate and I found a man cooking coffee beans over a fire with a pile of cooked beans beside him. And in another corner a man sorting coffee beans by hand at a table. He did not speak very good English but he told me that "This Male coffee" pile on the left "This Female coffee" pile on the right. Then I exited the shelter after watching a minute and I was STILL confused as to what I was supposed to do. So I went down to the overlook. As I was walking down a young man ( probably 15 years old) asked if I would like to try some Bali coffee.  "Yes". "You can sit down here sir if you like". So I sat down. (awesome view by the way).  The boy left and brought back a menu. On the menu there were to kinds of coffee that cost rupiah (money), one $5 a pot, and one $5 a cup.  Then there where six kinds of coffee, including a "New item" coffee as the boys put it (I had three of them there talking to me by the time I was done) that you could try for free.  I was a little surprised but went along with it and pointed to one of the coffees and said "I'll try this one". Well the boy took the menu and when he came back then I was really surprised. He didn't bring back a cup of the coffee I had chosen. He brought a cup of each kind! All six!  So I sat there chatting with them enjoying six cups of free coffee that was some of the best coffee I had ever had.  There was Bali coffee, something that started with an "A" coffee, Ginseng coffee (in most energy drinks I believe, and this was my favorite), Hot chocolate (ok so it wasn't all coffee, but it was all good!), Ginger tea, and Lemon grass tea.  All very delicious.  At the table they had some very coarse sugar which ended up coming in hand as at the bottom of each cup of coffee there was a thick syrup of coffee resulting from the fact that the Balinese (and prob. Indonesia for the most part) don't have coffee filters (for the most part).  This, I think, made the coffee better plus you could mix a little sugar with the syrup and it was down right good! Especially on pancakes which I had for breakfast the next day with more Bali coffee.  Ok, so the surprises didn't stop there.  As I drank my coffee and talked with the boys they explained to me that all their coffee was grown there at the coffee shop and that a lot of the view I was marveling at was different kinds of plants used to make there coffee, including chocolate trees, ginger root, lemon grass, and all the rest.  I even got to eat a ripe coffee fruit right off the tree!  The fruit around the bean is pretty small but it is sweet.
So enough about Bali coffee for now.  There is a lot more to tell, but because I got to go back to a coffee shop of a different day I will explain the Male/Female coffee thing then, as well as the process of Luwak coffee which is one of the best and most expensive coffees in the world I think.

The last adventure of the day was finding a place to stay, which I had been told (and read) that it was not hard to find cheap places to stay. What I was not ready for was how pleasing those cheap places to stay would be. I mean, I almost like better than the big hotel back in Sanur where the conference was.  To find a place I just asked Komang (the driver) to find the cheapest place to stay for the night (in which ever city we had decided on for the night).  I think I actually said "cheapest hotel" which I found out weren't the only places to stay in a village.  Anyway, that night I stayed in "Ubud" which was a pretty popular tourist town and consequently the most expensive, $27 for the night. And though it was simple is had the Balinese touch to it which made it awesome.  The way this hotel was set up was that there was a pathway through trees and pleasing plants/flowers with side paths leading off to separate buildings each having two rooms in them.  Most of the buildings were empty as there was construction being done on most of them.  I forgot the name of the hotel, something like "Sama's cottages" or something I think. It was out of the way of the rest of the city, a good spot for me (and cheap).

I went out for a evening walk before I went to bed, and then had a good nights sleep.

I've talked enough for today I think. Tomorrow I will tell you about my early morning adventure into "Sacred Monkey forest" and what followed thereafter.

As near as I can tell, this is the rout of day 1 and 2. From the air port to Sanur
for the night. Then from Sanur up into the mountains (maybe not that fair
 I don't know) and then back down to Ubud. The craft villages are not
to fair north of Sanur. 

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