Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Bali Mystique

We set out for the beautiful land of Bali on Wednesday (Nov. 10) very early. There was some concern about our tickets as the travel agent had our names wrong, but thankfully (for us, but not for the security of Indonesia) the airports don’t care what your name is or what you say your name is. Our ID was never checked. Thanks to a cancelled flight, we had a seven hour layover in a small airport with few food options and fewer things to do. We ate french fries and Baskin Robbins for lunch (Matt had JMA). When we finally arrived in Bali, we were tired, but greatly impressed by the beauty.

We spent five days on the beach, which is quite nice. The only problem is the enormous number of people trying to sell things. At least a hundred women wanted to braid my hair, give me a massage, or give a manicure. You can’t walk three meters (isn’t the metric system fun?) without someone asking if you need transport.

We did get to enjoy some really nice things there, like cheese. [Side note: Our senior year of university, Matt and I went to visit our friend Ben Utter in China. One of the things he asked us to bring was cheese. I thought he was a bit odd for the request at the time, but after living without good cheese for six months, I understand completely.] We ate some really good food: Greek (feta), Mexican (with cheese dip), and Italian (with lots of parmesan).

Matt wanted to try surfing, so he took a class one day. I sat and watched and was hassled to death by venders. It was a nice day.

After spending some time at the beach, we went up to Ubud, the artistic center of Bali (so we were told). They had real art galleries and interesting crafts to sell. We went into a gallery and ended up staying over an hour talking to the artist who owned it. He enjoyed music and made bamboo flutes. We sat and played flute and guitar for a long time and he told us of his art, wife and life in Indonesia.

We met many interesting people in Ubud, a lot of lonely expats. We talked with a very large European gay man one night after he joined us at our table and started picking over our leftovers. We met a lovely Norwegian woman at a Balinese dance who had some not so lovely things to say about Bush. The next night we met an Australian who, over the course of about an hour and several desserts, spilled his life story out to us.

We had many conversations with the locals about Hinduism as it is expressed in Bali. At our hotel in Ubud, a man named Mega would cook and bring us breakfast every morning. He explained several stories to us and told us about spirits and asked if the Muslims killed Jesus. We had some interesting discussions with him.

The most memorable moment happened in the monkey forest, home of the Monkey Forest Temple. We went to get some pictures of monkeys. They had a different idea. Matt was walking up some stairs behind some of the little critters. A baby monkey got frightened and screamed. The mother looked around, saw Matt and went into attack mode. She bit his leg and scratched his arm before finally deciding she had scared him enough and backed away. (Moms and people who have maternal feelings toward us: the skin was barely broken since he was wearing pants.)

We decided to sit down a bit out of the way and just observe for a few minutes. As we were sitting, an older monkey lumbered up to Matt and sat down right beside him. The monkey reached into Matt’s backpack and took the bottle of water. He held it in his feet and used his hands to open it then took a long drink. He looked up at us as if to say either “thank you” or “ha ha, you can’t stop me,” then dropped the bottle and walked off.

In all it was a nice trip from which neither of us really wanted to return. We go back to school tomorrow. There are four more weeks until Christmas.

**There are new pictures posted to illustrate all the major points of this post.**


Joy said...

As always, it's good to hear from you and to have the chance to talk a little. The photos are awesome (did I expect less?) but you two are *even thinner* than you were in the States. I wasn't sure that was possible.

It's all this trans fatty acids in Doritos, I tell ya, that make us pats so honking huge.

Anonymous said...

great words and great pictures....makes me want to take you up on the spare room offer in Manado...that and the results of the recent elections...but anyway.... great to see that your having fun and get to see and do all this really cool stuff



Anonymous said...

What traveling adventures you two get to have! I'm glad no serious damage was done by the attacking monkeys...I never knew them to be that aggressive, but then again I've never actually known a monkey. I miss ya'll. are you feeling these days?


Anonymous said...

dear old friends, it has been raining a lot in texas. i wish that i could be dry. i hop you have a happy thanksgiving and that you find plenty to be thankful for.