Day 55

We docked in Bali around 10AM, but didn’t leave for our excursion until noon, which allowed us to have a relaxing breakfast. I ordered a waffle and put fresh fruit on it (strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, and bananas, just like our favorite breakfast restaurant at home). I discovered a few weeks ago that if I want whipped cream, it needs to be requested ahead of time, so I mentioned last night to Lorenzo, the maître d at Sette Mare (Verandah in the daytime), that I would like whipped cream for my waffle at breakfast. It was there waiting for me when we arrived. I had a great fresh fruit waffle with cream (not low calorie), because I knew we would not be having lunch. Our tour was six hours with no food stop, so I packed a few granola bars for Mac, along with our waters.

Our medium-sized bus, with about 25 onboard, drove about 1 ¼ hours to Baha village, where we could see rice terraces firsthand. Our guide, Kesawa, explained that Bali produces three crops of rice per year, each taking 4 months to mature and he showed us rice at all stages of development. The paddies are communally owned and managed. We returned to the village proper and visited a private home. These are multi-generational, with grandparents as the head, male children remaining with their spouses, and of course, grandchildren. This elderly couple had 6 children, 5 girls and a boy. The girls were married and moved in with their husbands’ families, while the boy remained at home and brought his wife here. Every home has a family temple for worship and daily floral sacrifice. We never saw so many temples in such proximity to each other, but each one was private and fairly elaborate. While we were here, the skies opened up into a torrential downpour. Our guide passed out disposable ponchos to all of us, a nice touch.

From here we drove another 1 ¼ hours to a large mountaintop temple, Ulun Danu Temple, and had 40 minutes to explore this massive site after receiving initial information from Kesawa. There had to be over a thousand people here visiting on a Sunday afternoon. The rain had stopped by now, but it was cloudy and overcast, so our photos were not what they would have been in the sun. The architecture was amazing. The temple is over 400 years old. About 88% of Bali is Hindu, although 88% of total Indonesia is Muslim.

On the return trip, we stopped briefly to see the monkey jungle, an area where the gray monkeys roam free. We were not allowed to get off the bus because this is mating season and the monkeys were said to be more aggressive than normal. We tried to take photos from the bus windows. Driving on these roads is a wild experience. Traffic is everywhere and there are more scooters than autos. Some scooters carry the entire family of four with a little one standing in front, between the driver’s arms and the other sitting in front of the mom, behind the driver. The bus driver took every opportunity to pass even with scooters coming in the opposite direction; they just moved over a little, creating three-way traffic on a two-lane road. This was everybody’s normal driving style. The guide spoke a lot and was informative. He told us several times about burial rituals and cremation ceremonies more than we really needed to hear. The family homesite can never be sold. It stays with the family for generations and more shrines continue to be added for succeeding ancestors until the shrines seem to dominate the homesite. The rice fields have shrines near them for special ceremonies to the gods, asking for bountiful harvests, three times during each rice growing cycle.

We returned to the ship around 6PM, just in time to freshen up and get ready for dinner. Tonight, we were all famished, so most of us ate dinner on the earlier side (6:30-7ish). The dining room was practically empty because many folks took the 3:15 tour, which included dinner and a Balinese show, but they didn’t see much beforehand. Jamie, our cruise director, arranged for a local group of dancers to come aboard and perform tonight’s 9:30 show, a Balinese cultural experience called “Music, Costume and Dance From The Island Of The Gods.”

We just got back from the hour long show with 35 local performers, 10 female and 1 male dancer, with the rest being musicians. They portrayed several traditional tales in pantomime with lots of eye and head movements along with very expressive hands. We noticed one particular dancer had strange finger movements with her fingers bent backwards. Someone told us that some dancers have their fingers bent back at an early age to better dance these numbers (reminiscent, I guess, of the old Chinese custom of binding females’ feet to make tiny feet more attractive). This was an experience unlike any other we have seen. They did a super job and then disassembled their instruments and props, and carried them from the ship.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac