Bali has taught me a lot of things, my time here has been an amazing string of lessons. You don't have to look very hard for them either, they are everywhere...if you are only willing to open you eyes and your heart.
I will never look at a grain of rice the same way again. The love and care that Balinese people give to their rice paddy's is unbelievable. They sit in tiny palm covered shacks watching for birds, clacking noise makers to protect their precious grains. All of the water used in the rice paddy's is communal. It's source begins high in the mountains with a generous rain and the farmers up there will dam off what they need in their terraced fields. Gravity is allowed to run its course as all extra water is released to flow down to neighboring fields until the much needed water reaches the busy and bustling city that tries to grow around the rice. Rice is still harvested by hand, each and every single grain. Think of that love and care next time your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Give thanks.
Bali taught me how to smile. The people here are always smiling. And not fake smiles, you know the kind that don't reach a persons eyes? We are talking face splitting, ear to ear, huge, wide, toothy grins. Truly genuine smiles that make you feel special just seeing them. Before you know it you are smiling all day long, you go to bed at night and your cheek muscles hurt you have smiled so much.
My yoga practice here has taught me that I am stronger than I think I am. That just when I think I cant do anymore, I only have to try a little bit harder. Yoga has also taught me to release any emotions as I feel them, to not store them in my muscles only for them to sneak out later...
Snorkeling taught me to breath, just float and breathe and not be affraid to let the world pass me by. I simply floated, letting the warm currents of the Indian Ocean carry me along. I was privileged to be witness to a whole new world full of tropical fish in every imaginable color, coral of all sizes and shaped, and silence...blessed, golden silence.
The four of us "kids" ventured up to Ubud for a couple days....I am in love with Ubud! The area was named by a Hindu priest from Java who felt an aura of holiness in the lush jungles. The word Ubud comes from Ubad, meaning medicine. No wonder I loved this place! I want to sell the farm, grab the cats and build a villa there. It is hippy heaven! Yoga, health food stores, funky veg-head cafes, reiki healers, homeopaths, amazing temples, lush jungle, quite streets and A MONKEY FOREST! Yes, you heard right a monkey forest, full of wild macaques monkey's, huge banyon trees and flourecent green moss covering everything.
There are no walls or fences, nothing but lush green jungle on the very edge of downtown Ubud. The monkey's happily stay there, swinging from the long, hanging banyan roots, running around in the sacred monkey temples and eating fruit from the hands of happy tourists and Balinese alike. There are currently 300 macaques in this forest, clustered into three different family clans.
I had a hoot feeding them bannanas and watching the babies play, but the one that showed his teeth and growled at me...I just threw a bannana at him and ran toward the boys. The pictures really are better seen in a larger size, so look for the next photo album I post. You will be able to click the images to see full detail.
While in Ubud we stayed in a unique home-stay, a traditional Balinese living compound divided up into private suites. The Bali version of a communal hostel environment. We met some fellow world travels, swapped stories and Ryan and I went to a 6:30 am yoga class with Honsorro, from Sweden. He quickly became Hans Solo....
The class was held at the one, the only, the infamous YOGA BARN! Famous! Legen....wait for it....dary! I have been dreaming of doing yoga there for years and it lived up to every expectation I had. The class was in a thatch roof elevated space with a view of green rice paddys and swaying palm trees. The teacher was a kind, gentle soul but was not afraid to push us to our limits and leave us dripping with sweat and panting for water.
Ubud is also the center of art, culture, theater and dance in Bali. While there we saw a traditional Kecak dance, something I had been wanting to see since I first saw it performed in the film Baraka over 10 years ago. Taken from the Hindu text, the Ramayan, it tells the tale of Prince Rama and his rescue of his wife Sita. This dance is unique in that there are no musical instruments, instead it is a call and respond chorus of varying tones and pitches sang by bare chested men with fragipani blossoms in their hair, waving their arms in the air to scare off the evil kidnapping demons.
Ryan and I fell in love with Ubud, as we have fallen in love with Bali as a whole. Over a breakfast of black rice and coconut milk porridge topped with bananas and raw coco nubs we vowed to return again before we leave Bali! And on this next trip to Ubud we plan to hunt out the medicine man from the book "Eat Pray Love", yes he really does exist!
On Thursday we hired a driver for the day and ventured up into the mountains to see Git Git Waterfall. After only 45 minutes of driving the air becomes much cooler and the humidity all but disappears. With a cool and breezy 25 degrees we dined on Nasi Goreng and admired terraced rice paddy's. Once you are up in the hills all you can see for miles is terraced farmland, like you see in the picture below. In the distance is lush, thick, green jungle filled with the sounds of various buzzing exotic insects.
In order to get to the Waterfall you had to walk down a spiraling series of stone steps, winding past various market ladies selling their goods and looking to barter. I finally found the PERFECT gift for my family and cant wait to show it to my Grandfather. The market women all adored Randy and loved to say his name "Rrrrrrrrrandyyyy. Rrrrrrandy come visit with me. Rrrrrrandy buy my spices!" They would link their arm through his and try to drag him away from us into their booths. He really was looking quite daper in his crisp white cotton Bali shirt...
Once you reach the bottom you are greeted by a towering traditional temple gate covered in moss and marking the site of Git Git waterfall. The sound of rushing water surrounded us and a fine mist filled the air. It was a magnificent site to behold, I felt so alive the minute that spray hit me.
Standing at the base, holding Ryans hand and looking up at the top I was filled with child like joy! I couldn't stop giggling and I felt like my smile was going to crack my face in two it was so big. In all the years we have been together, standing under that waterfall with Ryan by my side was one of the most special moments we have ever shared.
Indonesian is a fun language and fairly easy to grasp the basics of. They tend to hyper-exaggerate the last syllable...like they do with my name Kamiiiiiiiii! And they also roll their "r's" in a delightful manner. I have been having fun practicing and thought Id share some with you all.
Good morning (often simply said as "Pagi!")
Mato Sook Somai
Thank you very much (specifically in Balinese)
Bagus! (pronounced baagooose)
That's great! Very Nice!
Help me please
There are also essentially only 4 names in Bali:
Wayan - first born
Made - second born (prounounced Ma-day) this can also be Kadek, like the picture above :)
Nyoman - third born
Ketut - fourth born
It can get kind of confusing.....so we tend to identify people by what they do, where they live or the animals they raise such as Made-Gardener
Then there is the concept of "rubber time", the Balinese run on their own unique system of time. A very stretchy, verrrrrrrry elastic one. For example, Made-Gardener is coming over in 5 minutes...or so he said 8 hours ago.
Bali truly is a unique paradise. You can be in the throngs of a crazy, busy, bustling road and then turn a corner and stumble on to an oasis of calm.
The food here is simply to DIE FOR! Whether you are eating traditional Balinese or more Western options, you are guaranteed a delicious meal. Tiny lil beach front cafes called Warungs serve up Balinese food with a huge smile and the sound of the pounding surf. My favorite so far is Nasi Gorng, a wicked fried rice dish topped with an egg. Should you desire a less ethnic dish there is a plethora of restaurants to choose from, some of them serving up THE BEST Italian food any of us have EVER had....for $3-$5!
Whether you want to go out in bummy clothes or dress up and "be seen", there is something for everyone here. Last night we all got dressed up and went over to the Umalas Equestrian Resort to dine at Lestari (You can click on those names to view the stables and restaurant). We were surrounded by candles in an open air courtyard by a beautiful pool. Huge palm trees towered over us, crickets and frogs chattering away and in the distance the sound of horses neighing to each other. I of course had to wander over and visited the horsies...heaven!
We have arrived safe and sound! We landed in Denpansar, Bali at 3:45 in the afternoon on Monday December 7th. The minute we stepped off the plain it was hot and humid and the air was full of incense. Despite the fact that we had been traveling for nearly 20 hours we were full of excitement and giggling like school kids. As soon as we were off the plain we were immediatly greeted by "custom" agents in dress shirts with custom badges pinned on yhe breast.
"Sir, you must come with us. Customs. We check bag."
"Not needed! No thank you! I carry bag!"
"Customs, we clear you customs mam."
"We just came through customs."
"Oh. Porter. We carry your bags mam."
"No thank you"
"Oh. Nice glasses sir. I try?"
"Sure, you like aviaters?"
"Oh very nice. Very nice. Thank you sir"
"Uhm, no, those are my glasses."
You need to have a fairly good sense of humor when traveling in a foreign country....they were all very good natured about it shared a laugh with us as they realized we were on to their game and wished us a happy journey.
We were whisked away by an excited Patti and Randy, they were so thrilled to see us. Navigating the teeming streets of Bali was a very sureel experience while coping with a massive time change. Cars and scooters everywhere, no one following any real rules. You need to turn your scooter around? Oh, just drive down the wrong side of the road! No problem! Artists studios are everywhere, banyon trees compete with stores for room to grow, and cows munch along the side of the roads.
The villa is literally the garden of Eden. Words really cannot describe it properly, but trust me when I say that it truly is breath-taking. Koi fish in the ponds, water lilies, Frangipani tress, Buddha statues. Paradise. The picture at the top of this post? That is a frangipani blossom....and yah, I took it. I know, I know, I rock. What can I say? My awesomeness followed me all the way to bali.
Last night we were invited to our neighbours house for a tradtional Balinese family dinner. AMAZING! Stay tuned for a full blog entry on that alone.
This morning we are off to the beach for the first time as we had been lying low for a couple days climatizing and coping with some mild jet lag. We are going to Patti and Randy's faveorite Warang, a family run food hut. Truly the best food to be found in Bali. Breakfast will be followed by a walk on the beach before it gets to hot to be on the sand. 31 degrees yesterday!
More pictures and stories will follow soon! Of I go to do some yoga with Ryan.