Exploring Off the Beaten Track
Trip Start Jan 30, 2010
27Trip End Jul 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Well - it turned out that Nirwa Homestay was where we found our kindred spirits - father, mother and 13 yr old son - Made, Ayu and Alit. They were so helpful and friendly and we had some great chats with them - it was hard to say goodbye after spending 3 nights/4 days with them. We lived in their family home - a collection of buildings - 2 storey, 4 room guesthouse, our room (formerly the kitchen building in the SW corner, opposite the family temple in the NE corner, their place (which will be 2 more rooms to rent after they finish building their new bedroom) and then their son's room - with Ayu's painting studio behind it and the ceremony/dining space adjacent. Herman learned the workings of the plumbing, electricity, septic, joinery; I learned how they cook their delicious breakfast pancakes (cornflour, egg, chlorophyll water, salt, sugar, water, banana or pineapple slices - topped with honey and lime... mmmm!), served with a huge dish of tropical fruit and yogurt and a lovely big glass of Bali kopi with gulang (coffee with white or palm sugar). Great family:) - Alit (whom his dad fondly calls "the Boss") likes to play badminton; Made works as a driver for a hotel and independently (he drove us back to Sanur) and he generally supports the homestay business. Ayu has been working hard at the homestay business too (she is university educated in hotel/tourism business) but she learned to paint in her youth (many kids learn the art of their village - hers was painting) and she specializes in children's play themes - beautiful paintings
While in Ubud, we saw a Kecak and Fire Dance performed by a group of local women and a few men (one of whom, in a trance, jumped into flaming and charred pieces of coconut husks about 4 times!). The Balinese have many dances with different stories - many are performed now for tourism, but it is very much part of their culture. This week we had a different view of the life and character of Balinese - mostly Hindu, they are a gentle and serene people, very devout (men and women, with atleast one in the family spending up to half their time preparing and making offerings, at home shrines, temples and work spaces, with many ceremonies throughout the year). We were sorry to miss the ceremony in Ubud for the 10th full moon (March 29) and a wedding that the neighbours behind Nirwa were preparing for March 31.
In addition to the fantastic time we had talking with "our family" and others (Balinese and foreign travelers) and learning about Balinese culture and some Indonesian words, we also took in some tourist attractions: I (Pat) got to my first cooking class!! - at Bumi Bali warung (see photos - talk to me about it later!) AND Herman and I went to Padangbai for a day - we rented Made and Ayu's motorcycle. Let's just say that it was an adventure - the Balinese are very cheerful and accomodating when they drive, but the roads are crowded with motorcycles and scooters and some cars/buses (mostly for tourists, with their drivers) and trucks making deliveries. The roads are narrow, but that doesn't stop motorists from casually weaving in and out as the traffic flows in a seemingly crazy, frantic way.... but everyone is smiling... no road rage here in Bali. At Padangbai on the east coast, we snorkelled at Blue Lagoon - beautiful clear water (albeit quite wavy), colourful coral and amazingly beautiful fish of all sizes, shapes and colours
We've been finding it helpful to consult the guidebook and TripAdvisor.com for tips and ideas and then to confirm this with locals who can talk about the best way to get there and the reasonable price to pay. "Reasonable" is hard to define: a meal can cost as little as 5,000 Rupiahs at the stalls and night market or more than 70,000 Rupiahs when it's the buffet lunch at the warung where the tour bus stops ($1 CAD = about 9,000 Rp - no problem to carry a million in cash!!). In stores/stalls, the price of clothing/housewares/carvings and art will usually be quoted at about 2-4 times the price and sellers expect to bargain. The tough part is bargaining fairly - it's pretty obvious that the sellers are not wealthy by any means.
Now it's goodbye Bali (after each having a 90 minute Balinese massage in the morning, before going to the airport), and hello Bangkok.