Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bali - Part 1

We arrived late Saturday night in Bali. We negotiated a taxi to our hotel and finally got to sleep around 4 am. We woke up in time for the free hotel breakfast, slathered ourselves in sunscreen (we both forgot our shins and paid!) and headed for the beach. Kuta is the main tourist beach and surfer hang out. It also very close to the airport, which is why we went there. 
The beach itself was nice and the ocean was as warm as a bathtub here, but we could hardly enjoy it because of all the touts. Touts are people constantly bothering you and asking to buy their chintzy stuff or pay for whatever service they are willing to offer. "You want massage. I give you cheap price." Below is a Matt being touted by a guy selling temporary tattoos. 

Bali is the only other predominantly Hindu area outside of India. They leave these offerings literally everywhere each day. You often see women sitting around and making these little grass  boxes. They are placed in front of shops, in the street, on the sidewalk, and even on the hoods of cars. Then once placed, they are left alone and are often eaten by birds or accidentally kicked by someone walking by. 

From Kuta we headed inland to Ubud, a city know for cultural performances and its lush surroundings. Ubud also has great eating. We never ate so well as we did in Ubud. We chose a hotel at random and found this place, called Warsa's Bungalows. Below is our private walled bungalow for only $25 a night. We were immediately wowed by the exterior and it was only later that we realized that it lacked basic amenities like toilet paper, soap, and towels. It was still a really nice place to stay. 
All over Bali are temples that you can just wander into. 

Monday night, we saw a Lembongan dance performance. These dancers were really highly skilled. All of their movements are highly controlled from their fingertips to their eye movements. This was set in the Ubud Palace with a live traditional Balinese orchestra. 
On Tuesday, we set out on a walk around the outside of Ubud. We started in the Monkey Forest. This place is full of little rascally monkeys. They will find food if you have it on you. We thought we were safe, but it turns out that monkeys also like sports drinks. One jumped on Matt's back to pull his drink out of the side pocket of his backpack. That continued to open the bottle with his mouth. Tricky smart buggers. 
This is the main temple in the Monkey Forest. Some temples require that you wear a sarong. 
Then we did a long walk through villages outside of Ubud. Here is an entire road devoted to drying grain. The chickens are having a smorgasbord. 

Also, in Ubud I had my first real massage. It was pretty amazing and only $12 for a full body, one hour massage. You can get even cheaper ones, but I "splurged" and went to a nice spa right next to our hotel. Matt was too sunburnt to participate and sat at the pool reading The Economist- sucka. 

Tuesday night, we saw a different dance performance called the Kecak dance. I've read that it was originally invented by a movie director in the 1930s for a movie, but it seems to have been incorporated into existing traditions. Kecak has no instruments, only a chorus of 100 men making a variety of noises that often sound like "kecak". 

Part 2 of our trip coming soon. Meanwhile, look at photos of our trip here :

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