Friday, November 13, 2009

Touring the countryside

Nov. 11 2009

I always wanted to swim up to one of those bars in the hotel swimming pool and order a drink, and today I did that.  Unfortunately Spud has a case of Montezuma’s revenge.  Or should I say Ranga’s revenge to use the local Bali bad guy from mythology.  If you have to spend a day at the hotel, this is the place.  It is a poor person’s Hilton.  Everything you need is here, right on the beach with 2 swimming pools, massage, yoga, restaurant, I went snorkeling and have a lazy day reading by the pool. Unfortunately, I got sunburn (Spud feels so sorry for me, from the air conditioned bathroom of our room).
We brought a book each and have traded reading material all along our way.  I have been very lucky because the only English book on the shelf in each place in Bali has been something that interested me.  The book shelf in the hotels is filled but with German books.
I just finished a book called Tallgrass. It is a part historical novel, set in Colorado in a Japanese internment camp.  It followed a 13 year old girl who lives on a farm in the area and her reaction to all that is going on around her. A good read.

I have enjoyed travelling to a new place every few days.  We have had the amazing contrast of the rural and urban.  We would never drive here.  The roads wind and curl up through the mountains and back down to the shore and the only indication of the route is the sign to the next town when you reach a village.  Signs declaring hati, hati  warn the bridge or road is out and the driver has to find an alternate route. The views are spectacular.  We hired a driver for the day and he took us to all the obligatory sights.  We went and saw the herons, with their white bodies and pink heads, nesting in the rice fields in Petulu.  We went to a coffee plantation and had the world's most expensive coffee - the one that is passed through the digestive tract of a civit.  We went to  a silver factory, not John Hardy's, and I got my bracelet.  We saw the Barong dance, the classic fight between good and evil.  We went to the volcano (and the driver left us at the buffet – this is where Spud thinks he got sick.  He always eats the beef and I don’t. ) At least the restaurant had beautiful views of the volcano which erupted in 1917, 1926, 1963. From this angle you can also see the highest mountain in Bali. We went to the Goa Lamak temple – the bat cave.  This temple has millions of bats in a natural cave that the temple has incorporated into its structure.  It was built in the 11th century and a festival was just finishing the day we visited.  Everyone who visits must wear a sarong and a sash. So you make a donation and you rent one briefly.  There are elaborate pagodas made from palm leaf and bamboo.  All the islanders are dressed in their finery; the colours of the sash or sarong chosen are for one of the three persons in the one God, who is never seen.  The sash colours are: Brahma (black and white – good and evil, Vishnu - yellow or Shiva, who brings destruction (I think that colour is red).

Only the priests are allowed into the bat cave. Yuk, who would go there?  It is full of guano.  There are pythons in the cave, which eat the bats.  The presence of the pythons, eating the bats, Bali people feel keeps the balance in nature, the black and white.

Sorry the pictures are out of place.  I need another lesson.