Monday, June 21, 2010

Bali Day 7: Bali Beach Club Dinner, New Friends, and Over the Rainbow


For our final night in Bali, we headed down to the Bali Beach Club (BBC). Above is a photo of one of the hosteses. Hundreds of tables line the beach. Not all of these tables belonged to BBC, every restaurant on the beach had tables in the sand. Amazingly, there weren't any bugs. At least I don't remember bugs. There were jumping fish and that was quite interesting to watch later in the evening.


Strolling the beach was a band of musicians. Our tour leader told us that most of the singers probably learned the songs by listening to them on the radio. The first song they came over to sing for us was Johnny Be Good. Its interesting to hear that song in a Balinese accent. Very fun.


Here, they perform Hotel California for us.

This was my dinner. I had to consult this picture on my camera as I ate because it was so dark, I had a hard time seeing what was on the plate. I accidently ate too far up on the fish and got a nice mouth full of glad I didn't get the gills and eyeballs. We also didn't get any utensils to crack the crab we were all improvising and adapting by crushing the legs with spoons. That could occassionaly send pieces of crab meat shooting across the table or into one's own lap. The squid patay was very good.


Below, a self portrait of myself. Behind me is a stage at a neighboring restaurant where child dancers were performing traditional Balinese dances.


J from Hong Kong and D from Florida purchase freshwater pearls from a vendor strolling the beach. To authenicate that the pearls were real, he held them in a flame so they could see that they didn't melt. I didn't have enough Balinese money left at this point or I may have purchased a necklace...I love pearls.


Now for last photos with my new friends. In keeping with my blog policy of not publishing names, unless people are public figures or business operators, I'll mostly be providing first initials.

Below, I am with our tour leader Halle from Spirit Quest Tours. She did a great job and was very helpful. I loved listening to her stories and she taught me a technique to help me when I have problems sleeping. I would go on another tour operated by Spirit Quest in the future and recommend them to my blog readers and to my friends.


This was the first vacation that I have taken with a tour group. They have probably spoiled me and I'll expect any future tour groups I go on vacation with to be much like them. Halle and her partner Greg were fabulous in how they interacted with they had known us all for years and were just bringing a group of their friends along on a vacation. I can't say enough good things about my experience.

Oh, and apparently, I was looking a lot like the real Elizabeth Gilbert (except I probably weigh 30 pounds more than she does)...kind of weird that I would be 'channeling' the author of the book our tour was based upon. Halle and Greg told me that a couple times (they've met Gilbert in person) and I didn't know what to say to that...Gilbert's obvioulsy a pretty lady (hahaha!), no I didn't say that. I'd actually never seen any pictures of Gilbert, until I came home and googled her...and yes, I look like a meatier version of her.

Below is my awesome roommate J from New Zealand. Such a nice lady and she put up with me locking her out of the room the first night. Whooops! I really enjoyed chatting with her and hearing about her life in New Zealand, her sons and grandchildren. She is an avid photographer (did Spirit Quest do a good job matching us up or what?) and I loved seeing some of her picutres she had taken. (I fell asleep while watching her edit photos one night so I have been enjoying looking at them in detail on her facebook).


Below is my new friend A from Australia. She decided to come on the trip at the last minute. I also enjoyed listening to her stories. She's a midwife and she quit her job to go on this vacation because the hospital she worked for wouldn't let her have the time off. What a gutsy lady!


Below is K from the US. She is a mystical healer and counselor who helps people who are making big transformations in their lives find themselves and their calling. I really enjoyed chatting with her on our car ride back from the Elephant Park. She told me about her life raising her family, at one time living in a tent when they were part of a co-op and were waiting to build their house. She was so excited on our visit to the Artist Colony because she found a beautiful painting of a Hindu goddess she just loved....I can't wait until she shares photos on facebook of the painting in her office!


Next, this is my fellow Washingtonian and talk about a small world, she used to also attend the same church I currently attend. She is a massage therapist and has her own spa in the Washington DC area. She was such a great person to chat with. One thing she learned a few years ago during a career/personal coaching seminar, was how to find your strong suits...the characteristics about you that you eminate. She was telling me that knowing our strong suits can help us find the types of careers we should be in or understand how we ended up in our careers as well as understand how people relate to us. On the flight back to DC, she interviewed me and helped me make a list of some of my strong suits and boy was that enlightening. I hope to stay in touch with her as she is in the DC area and she was such a nice person.


This is G, also from the US. She once worked in Marketing and sold her firm a few years ago and now raises horses.


Below is L from Australia and D from the US. L has a daughter the same age as I who has had similar bad luck experiences with men and relationships. D was one of the first people on the tour that I met. She and I have a lot of shared experiences on this trip ...from the long line to go through immigration in Bali, the elephant ride, and the temple visits.


This is J from Hong Kong. I didn't get much of chance to hang out with J on the tour. She and D really hit it off. D, J, M and I spent time hanging out in the Denpensar airport with J helping us by-pass the really long line to check-in. Once at the Hong Kong airport, she gave us some tips for spending our time before our next flight.


This is another J from the US. I also enjoyed learing about her life experiences. She was one of the ladies on the Elephant Park trip as well as to Tanah Lot temple.


So many strong, independent, beautiful women on this trip, exactly what/who I needed to experience in my life. Everyone of them is a person I'd love to get to know better. Before I went on this trip my friends and I prayed knowing that God had selected each person for this trip and that all of us would have a wonderful time being touched by each other. While I know not everyone on this trip were Christian, I know that we are all God's children and my faith has been strengthened so much by this experience. Seeing how much He loves us that he put the right mix of people together so that we could enjoy His beautiful creation was just incredible.

The final morning before we boarded the bus to head to the airport, the sun illuminated the Hindu temple on the hillside across the valley from our resort.


About half an hour later, I heard gasps. When I looked up, I saw this huge rainbow ending over the temple. What a great ending memory of this trip.


One of my take-a-ways from this trip was wanting to celebrate more. Celebrate all that God has given me. Almost everyday we were passing through a village and the entire village was out in a parade celebrating and giving offerings to their gods. One thing that really stood out to D and I at Tanah Lot was all of the families that were coming together to different the US would be if our families and towns came together to worship and celebrate what God has given us. The Balinese have so little in material things compared to us in the US, yet they celebrate and give offerings with open hearts of what they have. We in the US complain way too much and ruin what we do have. At Tanah Lot temple, I actually was overwhelmed with a feeling of saddness. God just put it on my heart that I needed to celebrate and praise Him for what I've been given...and it has been a lot.

Celebration...that is my theme for the rest of the year...and hopefully, celebration becomes a habit and I learn to celebrate all of my life's blessings everyday.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bali Day 7: Lunch at Gulingan Village


Our day started at lunch time on my final full day in Bali. We went to Gulingan Village for a pig roast.

Really, it was a Babi Guling roast. Babi Guling is Balinese for suckling pig and is a famous delicacy. It also sounds a lot like it should be the name of a Vegas Lounge singer.

Again, to get to lunch, we had to walk through the village. Below is the equivalent to the corner store in small town America...or the 7-Eleven in bigger cities.

When we arrived at the location of the lunch, we were directed to walk across a bridge over a pond. It was breath taking!


Once across the bridge, we found ourselves in a beautiful garden, our places already set at a beautiful table. The hats on our glasses were also practicle in that they kept the bugs out of our drinks, clever, clever!


Again, we were pretty much eating at someone's house. Most rural Balinese are farmers. The house was surrounded by beautiful rice paddies. Of course, we all had to take a walk out in them for pictures.



There were several thoughts I had as we walked out into the rice paddy. I was thinking about Vietnam Veterans and how they described going on patrols through the paddies. I also thought about how hard a day's work this would be to plant and harvest the rice. We did see both going on in various fields as we drove to our different destinations.

The fields were hot. The sun is very intense. I got sun burnt in just 20 minutes.




Back to the cool shade of the family compound.


Such beautiful gardens all around.



One of the beautiful women who served us.


This is a palm. This is the one time the weird stuff my camera was doing to the images actually looked cool.


This is the centerpiece on our table. It looks kind of like pointsettas, however I don't think that is what the pink and white leaves/petals are. Very beautiful.



My palm frond glass hat protecting my water, our first course of spicy chicken soup. By the way, all of the palm hats, centerpieces and placemats were made by hand by this family that hosted this lunch.


Meet our lunch.


That would be what is left of our Babi Guling after carving. They placed its head on a plate with its four hooves. If you would like to make authentic Babi Guling, I found a recipe for it: Recipe for Babi Guling.

This is my lunch plate. I just want to say that the chicken patay I have was the best patay I have ever had. At 5 o-clock, I have my pig portion. The brown squares on top are pieces of the crackling skin. This is consdered the delicacy of the suckling pig. It tasted like pork rinds meets bacon. It was good. The pork itself was extremely tender.


The family dog, complete with Grocho Marx eye brows.


After lunch, as we departed for the walk back to our bus, the hosteses handed us these, they are birds in a nest. Very pretty.


Bali Day 6: Visit to the Medicine Man


Ketut Liyer is a key player in Elizabeth Gilberts' book Eat, Pray, Love. He is a traditional healer and has the ability to read palms. Again, I didn't have a reading done but did follow with the group and got to soak in the beautiful Liyer family compound.

One of the things I really liked about this tour was we got to go outside of the normal 'tourist box'. Our tour bus couldn't fit down the narrow roads of Ketut's village so we disembarked on the main road and walked through the neighborhood to his house. Here are some neighborhood boys playing volleyball in the street. Who said you needed to have a net to play volley ball? At the other end of the street, another group of boys was playing soccer. I seriously considered asking one of the groups if I could play with them...I wonder what they would have thought? I should have done it.


The 'Welcome mat" into the Liyer compound.


The Balinese live in extended family compounds. They generally have several generations living together. Our Balinese guide told us that the Liyer compound could be considered upper middle class. There are multiple buildings within the compound, I assume they accomodate different families. Many of the common areas were open on at least two if not three sides.


This was a very ornate door on one of the living quarters within the compound.


This is a sitting area and I assume the drawings had been done by Mr. Liyer.


An old TV set sitting in the 'hallway'.



Within each family compound is the family temple where they family goes to make their offerings in the morning. Below, I am standing at the entrance to their family temple.


Below, deeper into the compound are additional living quaters and a kitchen building. Also in this area, Mr. Liyer housed quite a few exotic birds. He had peacocks, a hawk which you can see in the photos, an owl that may have had only one wing and a couple other things that I can't remember.


This building appears to be the family kitchen. I didn't want to venture too deeply into their compound as I felt like I was just walking around inside someone's house.


The front porch of one of the living quaters.


Bali Day 7: Trip to Tanah Lot Temple

This is the temple at Tanah Lot, it resides on the cliffs of the Indonesian Ocean. The inner temple, or the holiest part of the temple can only be reached at low tide. We could not go there, we did get to walk around the very beautiful grounds of the outer temples. But before we got there...

After our babi gulang lunch, the group was given the option to either go for massages or to to the temple. About half of us really wanted to go to the temple. I liked that about this tour group, they were very flexible with us. On our way to the temple, we stopped in either Megnwi or Kediri because one of the women in the group needed to purchase a white blouse so we'd be in temple dress, the men also needed to purchase head covernings. This photo is the street outside the fabric store we ran into. We were the only westerners in the store. It reminded me of a memory from childhood, of Jo-Ann Fabrics in Fremont, Ohio...the orderly chaos of countless beautiful fabrics in a kalidascope of colors and patters on walls and floor racks. It wasn't white and brightly lit like fabric stores are now. So much of what we saw, I felt like I was transported back in time.


Tanah Lot is one of the big tourist destinations. There was a parking lot, similar to parking lots for amusement parks here in the US and once in the gate, there was a HUGE open market all the way to the temple. When we got there, I realized I didn't have my again, we had to make a dash into a stall to find a sash.

This was a neat experience. Our bus driver had tried to help one of the gals tie her sarong. When we walked into the first stall we saw that sold sarongs and sashes, the woman working started to laugh that D's sash was tied like a mans and offered to help her... Mine was also not tied correctly. These two Balinese woman whipped our sarongs off, right there in the open (luckily I was wearing shorts under mine). and then, zip, zip, zip! had us all wrapped up correctly. So I learned the absolute correct way to tie a sarong. We tipped the women for dressing us and began our walk to the temple.

Along the way, we got stopped by a Balinese family who wanted their pictures taken with American's. They walked away thanking us and said, "Go Obama!"


Yes, that is a Ralph Lauren shop on the way. As far as I could tell, it was the real deal and not a knock off store.


This is me with the entrance to the temple in the background. We drew a lot of attention because we were dressed like the Balinese, not like western tourists (you see a couple in pink shirts behind me walking up the steps). Again, Balinese stopped our group to have pictures taken with us.

We were also lucky when we arrived, there was a four day long religious holiday going on at the temple and people from all over the island were coming to worship.


Worshippers in one of the temple areas.


We headed toward the water, I think we were hoping we could go into the holiest part of the temple, the part up on the cliff that could only be reached at low tide. The video below shows all of the worshippers heading to the tidal basin where they would do their offering.

This is me standing in the tidal basin with the holiest part of the temple behind me.


The photo below shows all of the worshippers sitting in the tidal basin doing their offering.


I stood back by the cliffs/caves because I was not going to particpate in the worship. There were still many worshippers back here where I stood, because it was shaded and cool. The sun was very, very hot that day.


One young woman saying her prayers and making an offering.


The video below is the worship and offering ceremony that I filmed.

As you could see from the video. The people got up as soon as they were blessed with holy water and then they were promptly replaced by another wave of 100s of worshipers. Below is a photo of the discarded offerings.


This is a gamelan below. Gamelon is not a musical instrument, it is the ensemble. Mostly what I saw people playing were xylophones and some gong looking things and drums. The ornateness of the instruments was incredible.


Look at would not want to run into that in the dark.


Next we went for a walk on the grounds. This temple has several large boa constrictor snakes about the grounds. We saw one and the handler told the group he'd feed it a duck so we could take pictures. We declined. The grounds are lovely.


Our guilde took us to an overlook where we were able to get some stunning photos of the main temple.



Below is another temple on another cliff. This one was much smaller. I was facinated by the narrow land bridge that looked like only one person could walk on it at a time.


I will leave you with a touched up version of the other temple. The light effects make it seem as if I took this at sun set.


Stand by for my final blog entry...Dinner at Bali Beach Club.