Choose your Bali

Feast of the flesh at Padang Padang beach, or the roaring waves of Uluwatu – I have to admit, the baring of so much flesh reminded me of chickens roasting at roadside stalls, too many years in Asia, not used to perfect, crisp, young and smooth bodies, both male and female, available for view by all.

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Then just drive a few kilometres, and it’s the capital of package tour land, sunset tours at Uluwatu – luckily, all the guides tell the folks not to follow that trail into the woods for 3 more minutes, so if you do, oops, suddenly middle of nowhere, and the view is all yours. It’s also a fine place to experience the famous kecak dance (definitely worth looking up on youtube if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Public view – the temple protects Bali from the spirits of the sea. Monkeys are everywhere and fierce about food, hats, and I’ve seen one scrambling down those cliffs with a roughly 2000-usd camera….

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Private view – just more cliffs and waves.

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And of course I don’t have a single photo of the maddening traffic jams of southern Bali, the shops and discos of Kuta, or the beach boys. Suffice to say even some of the old ladies greet you with “g’day mate”. It’s interesting to observe for about twenty-two minutes. Crowds also mean bookshops (being phased out, as people starting running around with kindles, a bummer for ancient specimens like me, internet cafes are already almost completely gone from the entire banana pancake trail, just sayin’).

Then a short van ride to the land of neon green rice fields, organic farms, yoga retreats (right two minutes down from high fashion street), and suddenly I can breathe, and the first rain in six months cools me down. I’m no veggie conoisseur or gastro blogger, but this must be the prettiest lunch I’ve had in a long while.

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And then a little while on a motorcycle, more rice fields on the way, and my favourite temple, where the spirits drink sprite. Still many visitors, but I already know the locals’ entrance…. and feel the chilly water on my skin even without touching it.

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It happens to be Melasti, the day of purification (I was kinda hoping something was going on at the holy springs, but nope, ordinary afternoon), the villagers go to the sea for prayers, kids giggle and point and say stuff in a language I don’t understand, which is great, as I can presume the best, and there is gamelan music and chanting and lots of flowers offered to the gods and spirits, holy waters collected, and you wish you were invisible after all, trying to take those pictures and juggling that with trying to say your own prayers.

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The English say, if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. I would say, you don’t like Bali, just turn a corner, something will startle you and it might just be your thing, no matter who you are and what you are after.

For a change, all these pictures were taken yesterday and today, all these little moments just within two days, and there is of course still so many more things out there, the beaches, the monuments, all the arts and landscapes and gorges and waterfalls. Then all the monsters coming alive on Sunday, and the day of silence on Monday. Can’t wait. I might even find something new that surprises me.

(Hopefully, more ceremony photos tomorrow, as it is an ongoing festival.)

 

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One thought on “Choose your Bali”

  1. I first spent time in Bali in 1972. It was idyllic. There was not one hotel in Kuta and Poppy’s had just been opened as the first restaurant. We stayed in Losmans (sp?) and did not encounter one car on the entire island outside of military or governmental convoys. It was before there were hardly any travelers there and it was magic. I think I was there for 3 or 4 weeks. I went back on 1996 and SHOCK!!!! It took 15 minutes to cross the road in Kuta Beach–traffic was so bad. High-rise hotels all over. We got out of Kuta and Denpasar as quickly as possible and spent most of our time in Ubud. We were going to move there, but life intervened. Snorkeling off the north coast was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We were the only people staying in any of the hotels in that region and went out and spent all day in the bathwater warm ocean, snorkeling…a new world of millions of colorful fish below. I think Bali will always be magical in memory..and certainly was in presence. I was told the Ketchak dance was developed specifically for the On The Road to Bali movie starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and that they have since just absorbed it into their local dance rituals. I worked for Bob Hope in the 80’s–can’t remember whether I learned this then or when I was in Bali. I need to do some research to see. Thanks for the wonderful pics of India and Bali. (I was in Bombay (Mumbai?) in 1968–I bet it hasn’t changed very much. It was a culture shock for this young first-time traveler. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Please come back.

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