Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Indonesian Sights from Bali

Bali was certainly a bit different than I remember in 1986, but the essence and flavor of culture
still very evident; lovely, friendly people; great climate, unique sights and sounds. As you can see, we visited a monkey forest in the more cultural city called Ubud. The monkeys were abundant, pretty tame-unless of course you didn't/couldn't read the directions and held bunches of finger bananas in your hands as you strolled through the park with your toddler in a stroller!! Gawd, we saw a woman's eyes pop open when a 20 Macaw jumped up on her leg wanting an unopened treat....Duhhhhhhhhhh! Monkeys like bananas in any language...I was seriously fearful for her babe! It sure was fun seeing the monkeys when they were done eating and just grooming each other in the trees. Not really recommended by our Travel Medicine Disease Specialist, but something that was pretty hard to pass up. We were very careful to say the least. Rabies is a real problem, especially with the huge population of wild dogs on the island. On a different excursion we saw a dog's eye shot up from locals trying to personally trying to exterminate those around their neighborhood.

The Balinese people's hybrid Hindu religion has an daily ritual of providing offerings to the good and evil spirits and cover the island on the street, sidewalks, etc., but also on small permanent structures in family compounds, in the middle of intersections, at water parks etc. We found that family compounds would have one to several prayer temples, coffee trees, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg, roosters/chickens, goats, pigs, bananas-which are the leaves used for the offerings, and many other resources; like the bee hives for honey.
I was amazed how the whole family compound worked and was kept by a large community of people.

I found that getting out of bed and walking to the beach was just as fast as taking a cab. During the peak holiday season, apparently many people from Jakarta and Japan ferry their boats to Bali for a week or two. I'd take a 2 mile hike to the centralized Starbucks while the sun was out and enjoy the view-like the cute little snake that apparently had expired. You would not believe how much garbage was on the beach and in the water the first day we arrived--almost layered! Joey and Hailey were swimming and getting plastic bags around their arms etc., but then 10 days later, there was a huge movement to clean it all up, as the local beach garbage brigade took over the beach and started removing huge piles of stacked garbage. I was stunned at the difference! Virtually NO garbage for miles. Apparently the garbage come comes from the rivers up country, which is a favorite dumping ground...so sad. It just trickles downhill. Bali is an incredibly dense area and has very little infrastructure, which makes it difficult for the people to work themselves out of 3rd world status. There's very few sidewalks-and most of the existing ones are cracked/broken/have gaping holes into the sewer lines etc.-and an overwhelming number of motorcycles. Running water and electricity hasn't been in many sections for very long, so unlike Shanghai, electric cycles are rare and very expensive since they are imported, thus lots of pollution.

Why is it, that the bold warning labels on cigarette cartons and individual packages sold in Asia are in English rather than the native languages? There's something sinful about keeping your own people in the dark about their own safety. Joey was shocked to read that there's more male Chinese people that smoke than the entire population of the United States. I haven't quite figured out why the women don't/aren't allowed to smoke. I wonder if it's culture, how others view them, taboos, or just the fact that they are a bit smarter than the other 700 million.

Just FYI, Anne has her hand in a pool of dry skin eating fishees. We all gave it a try. You can submerge your legs, arms, and/or body-depending what you're wearing-for about 20 minutes. They attack like piranha and clean you up with a unique sensation that confuses you for awhile. "Is this good? Fun? Does it hurt? Am I liking this?"

The little white cafe on the beach in Bali was a favorite hang out, whether it be in the scorching sunshine or a tropical rain storm. It was hard to complain when it's 85-90 degrees on the Indian Ocean.

Now you got to imagine, hopping onto the beach, running for the darker sand that your feet can handle, and you walk barely 20 yards when you're being invited/lured to rent a lounge chair and umbrella for the day by one of the locals that are hovering behind the imaginary line, about 30 yards further up than the high tide line, with huge coolers full of Coke, Sprite, and BingTang Beer. So when you get to a rootee tootee hotel with a few pools, in case you may want to test out the waters, you set down for the day. Suddenly, as if you've been spied upon since the moment you set foot on the beach, "The Ladies" appear. Of course there are also guys with an array of assorted goods and services, but OOOOhhhhhh, the ladies are the mainstay, the backbone, the wonder of the beach! They have their own territory, based on their assigned service or good to sell, and they come like mosquitoes attacking at dusk. One buzzes about, the others can hear it, smell it, and hope to taste it. They surround you and put on their best sales show in hopes of cajoling you into releasing some of your O negative greenbacks. Joey and Hailey would watch, after their own initiations, and howl, "Poned!!" whenever they would see a newbie getting a massage, pedicure, and manicure at the same time, while the sarongs would start flying around in the breeze, only to be outdone by the flutter of the kite flyers, the spearing of flip flops by the local bow and arrow salesman and the hawking of silver representations of local gods-let alone the plethora of jewelry being displayed. You have to know how to say no thanks, hide in a book, and/or fake a good snooze if you plan to survive. Although, you always keep good eye contact with your man/woman that's in-charge of keeping you hydrated Ü

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