Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Typical Day in Bali

Written by Karen.

Today as we were wandering around town, I thought - not for the first time - what a crazy, unbelievable and wonderful travel adventure we were having.  We weren’t doing anything particularly extreme and hadn’t really planned out our day with activities.  We just wander around town and see what we see. It is a simple and good life. 

The street where our homestay was to the right where the large red/white Indonesian flag was.  The fruit and veggie cart operated each day under the multicolored umbrella. There are privately-owned motorbike taxis that you can hire to take you around the town and surrounding area. It's kinda like a Uber or Grab or Lyft but on a smaller, individual scale.  Mostly guys line the sidewalks and hold up a cardboard sign that read 'Taxi' and when we would walk by would ask us if we wanted to take a taxi. Too hot to walk was a common sales pitch.  It was, we agreed.  But we wanted to walk.  After a few days, we would get waves and smiles from the taxi guys although we did take their business cards, if offered, just in case.  
School run.  The impact and wide usage of motor scooters cannot be overstated in SE Asia. They are everywhere and are the most common means of transportation.  
The roads are fairly narrow and the sidewalks are taken up by the parked motorbikes.  Adam and I are sitting in front of a small coffee shop watching the people and motorbikes pass by.  We have seen countless near-misses and several accidents, but usually pedestrians, motorbikes and cars seem to co-exist rather peacefully.  It is usually the foreign visitor who bears the marks of motor scooter accidents and hot exhaust burns.

Adam and I have been going back-and-forth about whether we want to rent a motorbike while we are in Ubud.  It is mostly me that keeps throwing cold water on the idea.  I'll be getting close to yes, then will see another accident with foreigners involved and I'll jump right back into the safe no zone again. What makes the idea of driving a motor scooter more risky - at least in my mind - is that drivers drive on the left side of the road....which is opposite to what we are used to in the States.  That and the crush of traffic, no helmets and passing on the inside just seems dangerous to me.  
If I had grown up riding on the back of a motor scooter, maybe I wouldn't be as fearful of getting hurt.  I'm good though with walking.  Even in the heat.  

A bamboo fence created with lengths of bamboo connected by smaller bamboo rods.  
The orange, creams and rusts of the architecture are extraordinarily complimentary against the heat of the blue, blue sky.  I liked the guard statues with the flowers in their ears.   
Gas stations are not found in the center of town.  Instead if you need to fill up your motor scooter, you pull up to one of these roadside stands.  The empty water bottles are filled with gasoline and you simply pour the fuel into your tank and then pay the shop keeper.  Then off you go.
Many days of offerings piled up on a neighborhood shrine that we saw next to the sidewalk. 
A bit of an upgrade to the fuel sold in recycled water bottles.  This tiny little fuel pump was pretty cute.  You can see the tube with the fuel coming down the side.  At the very end of the tube lying on the ground was a small nozzle. It looked like the fuel pump was home made and it was all very creative.    
We did go to a Balinese Kecak and fire dance performance.  Here we are both getting our inner flower child on before the show.  Flowers are regularly used in daily life and are worn by both men and women.

A Balinese Kecak is the telling of stories with dance, costumes and by using chanting to provide the timing, tempo and music in a cappella format.

It is rhythmic and beautiful under the full moon.  The heat of the day is waning and the light wind picks up the honey scents of the flowers that surround us.  The women are dressed in elaborate costumes and can bend their fingers in unbelievably artistic and graceful ways.  The men are dressed in black-and-white checked material and chant and "cak".  Their sounds
 dipping and soaring in concert with the story and dance. Although we didn't understand the words, we could fully understand the ancient story between good and evil.

The Kecak is uniquely Balinese and is a wonder to behold.  
After the Kecak, the fire dance started.  This is the man who performed that fire dance.

We were in the front row and could clearly see the man walking on top of the burning pieces of wood embers and coconut hulls.  He is sitting here, clearly exhausted after his dance.  The priest has just given him a blessing.  His feet were swollen and blackened with the soot.  Several people came up to him to see if he was okay and to thank him for his performance.  He seemed pleased by his performance.  It was a pretty incredible evening.  
We arrived early to the Kecak and fire dance performance.  The full moon was just coming up over the courtyard walls. There were flower blossoms and candles decorating the theatre.   
We turned off the road to see where it went.  We found a public bath.  The narrow, bamboo bridge allowed me to walk across and walk into the stone and cement open room.  The water comes from the stream.  
Down our street, we would often see these bamboo baskets turned upside down.  Even before we could actually see what was inside these baskets, we could hear the unhappy cackling of the chickens and roosters captured inside.  
A common sight in front of the shops in Ubud.  

Mossy steps that led us to another neighborhood.

A small alley filled with shops, cafes and coffee shops.  The streets in Ubud were remarkably clean and well-maintained.  
Flowers, including orchids grow freely and are found in the most unexpected places.  Their colorful beauty combined with the heady fragrance were always close by wherever we were.

This is one of the things that I loved about Bali - the simple beauty was always there.  You really didn't have to look very hard to find it. 


Gregor said...

Ooooh, you make us want to go back to Bali so bad! Excellent pictures and writing as usual.

This Journey We Call Life said...

Hey Gregor,

Thanks - appreciate it! We'll be also looking back at these pics soon enough and remembering....and wanting to go back! :)

Hope you guys are doing well and re-entry is going okay. Hugs, Karen

Inger Grimstad said...

Hello Karen! I can't find your contactinfo & hope to reach you here�� What fantastic journeys you've had! I'll be in SF from June 9 till 21 & was hoping to see you guys! Please get in touch. Inger

This Journey We Call Life said...

Hi Inger - Replied to your Museum email.....looking forward to seeing you in San Francisco! :) Karen.