Monday, November 28, 2011

Bali Part 3: The Balinese

An offering at the ocean
The cultural observations and interactions were some of the most memorable parts of visiting Bali, and so this round of photos and comments is about the people of Bali.

We had read that it is not unexpected that a procession of people going to a temple celebration could happen at any given time or place, and sure enough within a couple of hours of arriving in Bali and being driven to Ubud (where we stayed the first four nights) we encountered one as we drove into the village.  Traffic stops and a line of men, women, and children dressed in traditional garb carrying offerings and gifts make their way through the streets.  Very glad to have seen one!

Whether it was someone driving us around the island, someone guiding us on a trek in the mountains, or someone showing us around a temple - we got to hear some wonderful insights and knowledge about what we were seeing and about Bali itself and its people and religion.  Just fascinating...and it really added to our experience.

I'm so glad we took the time to learn a few words and phrases in Indonesian. The old saying is very true - they really do appreciate the effort even if you get it wrong. We got several comments on it and they really did notice, even if they also spoke English.  Highly recommended.

Just seeing and experiencing the bits of everyday life in Bali and seeing just how amazingly different it is to ours (or Western life in general) was eye-opening and mind-opening.  Maybe it was watching workers in the rice fields, people in temples (more about the temples in the next post), vendors, the crazy driving (crazy to anyone not from there, anyway), or just walking through was such a great experience to see a way of life so completely different from our own. And that was a key part of the choice to visit Bali - to experience these differences and to intentionally be a bit uncomfortable so far out of our element.

Click here for some more photos of the Balinese.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bali Part 2: Flora & Fauna

Bali butterfly
The next batch of photos are of the various birds, bugs, butterflies, animals, flowers & plants we encountered in Bali.  It was really interesting getting to see plants and insects we've never seen before - or seen anything LIKE before. And so many butterflies!

Rice farmers keep 'herds' of ducks around because they eat the snails in the standing water - and it was rather unexpected to see this association of ducks and rice fields. Who knew?

On our guided hikes in the mountains we were shown things we might never would have noticed, like vanilla, clove, nutmeg, lemongrass, cacao, and coffee trees/plants.  And got to smell and/or taste them right there. Fun!

The cats were shy but all seem to have very short stub-tails.  Lots of free-roaming dogs, too, that just wander around but apparently belong to people.

Many interesting birds, but most a bit too quick to get caught by my camera. Frogs with sticky feet were seen but we mostly heard the frogs - including one kind we heard at night that sounded like a very loud squeaky toy. I would have loved to see what it looked like!

We saw some lizards here and there, but most often were the little tan ones skittering across the ceiling at some restaurants. Everything is open-air, after all - no doors or walls to speak of - so this is quite common. They keep to themselves and we live happily together. :-)

Exotic plants and animals/bugs are often what make an exotic place memorable (especially derelict monkeys), and Bali didn't disappoint!

Click here for more photos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bali - and the Monkeys

We traveled to Bali, Indonesia a couple of weeks ago as our first venture into Asia and our first real try at experiencing a very different culture and language.  It was really something!  Difficult sometimes, eye-opening other times, and overall just a great experience. Really great.

The cultural experience and interaction was probably the most memorable and rewarding.  The ultra-cheap *everything*, walking in rice fields, eating on the beach, and being hot most of the time are others.

I kept delaying by blog entry on the trip until I got my photos ready. Um, yeah - there are SO many and it's going to take a while to get everything to my satisfaction. So instead of waiting and waiting and then springing way too many photos on you, I'm instead going to do some themed Bali posts as I go through my photos.

The first theme, as you might guess, is monkeys.  They are quite prevalent on Bali, and especially so where we saw them around some certain temples and forests. And even though they tend to congregate in these areas they are all wild and quite ambivalent to people. It's almost a little eerie that they'll just walk right by you going about their monkey business or give you that evil monkey stare and these are MONKEYS people!

And they do have some evil in them.  Or maybe it's just mischief.  We were warned to secure anything loose like cameras or sunglasses because they are thieves and will steal them.  And they do.  One jumped up on a woman and took the earring right out of her ear and proceeded to destroy it. Another took the eyeglasses off a little girls head. The glasses were just ransom, though, because when offered some fruit it gladly gave the glasses back. Nothing was stolen from us, but one did jump on my back briefly and another hopped right into Anne's lap for a bit. (See video below.)

So yes, being amongst monkeys was a first for us and quite interesting to say the least. And quite fun. Click here for a few more monkey photos. More posts coming as photos get done! And here's the video: