Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
7Trip End Dec 05, 2008
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Yesterday I crossed Bali from south to north on a long and endlessly winding road. My highlight was a long stroll between freshly flooded rice terraces above the Saba river in the late afternoon, when coming down towards Seiririt. These rice terraces with their pleiades of forms and variations are the single most interesting cultural achievement of Indonesia, closely followed by Gamelan music. Spent the night in Lovina in a rather shabby hotel where the owner had directed me by motorbike after approaching me on the beach.
Mixed seafood for dinner in a nearby restaurant came in healthy portions. For desert I chatted with a friendly local guy who specialises in pendants from shells, corals and coconut wood which he makes from his own finds and sells to the tourists
Today I started at 5.30, after a much mosquito afflicted night, hot in spite of the fan and with little decent sleep. The small local fisher boat I had ordered picked me up at the beach in front of my bungalow to get me dolphin watching, about 2 km offshore. I was the only passenger but there were about 25 other boats doing the same thing for other European and a few Japanese tourists. The surprisingly small dolfins surfaced between the waves here and there in schools of about 25 to 35, difficult to make out and impossible to ban in pixels in the rough sea which was whipped up by a strong fallwind from the mountains. The little tourist armada started to move in one direction at each dolphin appearance whereupon they preferred to disappear just to resurface elsewhere after a while. Do dolphins have humour? This game continued for more than an hour until all passengers and crews where totally wet from the seawaters dashing overboard those tiny vessels. In my case the wetness included my wallet and my Rupiah million as well as my guidebook with the precious island map
Later I restarted my now familiar aged Yamaha bike, passed Singaraja and its Chinese temple and rode up and up to Mt. Batur. On the way I took a bath naked underneath a waterfall, chatting with two local mountain guides who had set the precedent and offered me shampoo. One of them at least was visibly interested in further acquaintance. We continued the chat over a coffee in a nearby street side parlour, while the sparse traffic floated by. Life is simple in the mountains if you find tourists to guide up volcanoes, but it remains complicated under a wealth of age old Hindu village requirements, especially if you live with your mother.
Two hours later, after visiting two important pura temples on the roadside and giving in to the purchase of another tenaciously touted Bali T-shirt for an afternoon 'moarning priece', I took the third swim of the day in the pleasant green waters of Lake Batur below Batour volcano whose surroundings are still scarred by the lava of recent eruptions. Yes, it is worth all the fuzz, although it gets pretty cold to ride a motorbike up there at more than 1700 meters altitude and although in the vicinity of all highlights and viewpoints you are constantly molested by flying souvenir vendors and their kin who appear out of nowhere
Heading down in the late afternoon the difficulty lay in finding the shortest way, first south then east around the gigantic neighbouring Mt. Agung with its perfect volcano form, which gracefully peeled itself out of the clouds to present its glorious 3142 meters. This is when the butt got sore, in spite of all the excitement of 10.000 curves and beautiful mountain scenery in golden afternoon light.
I had to take gas from lokal 'bottle stations' three times, due to lack of official stations on the way. Twice the official stations were out of supply. Those are the moments when you start to praise the spirit of free enterprise, in spite of prices of up to 10.000 Rupiah per litre, against the regular price of 5500.
I was happy to reach Amed on the north east cost of Bali shortly before sunset, where I checked in at Jogi Lodge which boasts spacious clean rooms, a good bed with a mosquito net and even a small pool. A swim first in the warm sea, then in the pool feels like a massage after such a day. And Amed is a place to fall in love with instantly. There are about 200 of those local fisher boats lined up the black beach., Mt
Bali was left behind in bright sunshine after a final bodysurfing session of half an hour. The flight to Jacarta was nice and remained without any emergencies. Bali and Java and all the distance I had travelled overland in two weeks drew by in flying time of one hour forty from yet another perspective garnished with beautiful clouds in form of high rising temples.
This indeed was a memorable trip. Bali is a very special place and offers so much more than the commercialised entertainment and shopping and beach and surf highlights of Kuta. Its serene coasts, rice terraced valleys and imposing volcanoes which all are so generously draped by tropic vegetation are terrific already but what makes Bali really unique for me is the spirituality of the place. If you look around attentively you can observe overabundant Hinduistic/Animistic religious life and feel a bit of the energy created
Wherever I went laughing children and smiling adult faces greeted me. People there don't mind to reveal a bit of themselves if you just care to ask. The memory of this will be helpful back in cold Germany where people open up so slowly. I will come back for more, that's for sure.
But Java was great, too and beyond the Islam still seems to share a bit of the same spiritual energy.. Actually the whole trip was like a beautiful necklace each day another jewel.