Friday, January 8, 2010
We were assembled at 7:20 AM this morning for our excursion to Pengumuman Temple, the largest temple in Bali. The day was bright and sunny with temperature in the upper 80s. Padamhi was our guide today and didn’t waste any time giving us a lot of information, mostly about Hindu beliefs and practices.
Hindus observe special rites for many ceremonies the must be celebrated on special days of their calendars (3) that differ from the Roman calendar. There are elaborate practices for babies from birth (placing its umbilical cord in a coconut that is cleared of milk and buried), and other observances as the baby gets older. There is a teeth filing ceremony, wedding, cremation, plus numerous others. We also heard about the caste system that we learned about previously.
The road started out smooth, but got curvier, bumpier and narrower as we advanced to our destination. There was lush growth on both sides of the road from the deep valleys all the way up into the hills. We stopped for pictures of rice paddy workers. Rice, coconuts, bananas and other fruits are the main crops. As plentiful as the fruits were, Balinese people do not eat a lot of it, but export it. They generally would eat fruit at ceremonies. They eat chicken, pork, fish, and sometimes dog made into soup. Padamhi talked about schools and the six-day school week. Even though they go to school six days, their school days are shorter. Students wear uniforms that change colors throughout the week. Colors are very important in Hindu beliefs, and we saw a lot in evidence of that with statues being wrapped in black and white cloths. We also saw a cockfighting pen. Even though cock fighting is outlawed, it is still practiced and no arrests are ever made.
When we finally reached the temple after a 2+ hour ride it was obvious why this site was chosen to visit. Each of us received a sarong, that seemed unnecessary since we did not enter the temple, but they were ours to keep and mine would make a beautiful tablecloth..
There were piles and piles of sarongs and each seemed to have a different design. They really are lovely if you would have use for them.
Again vendors harassed us; there weren’t as many as in India, but just about as aggressive. One lady named Dora gave me a necklace that she said was free, then she proceeded to want me to buy her postcards. She said she’d wait for me on my way back. Sure enough, when I got back there was Dora wanting me to buy her postcards, and since I wasn’t buying any she wanted $1.00 for the necklace that she said was free. She followed me all the way to the bus, but didn’t get a sale.
There was a rather steep hill to climb after leaving the bus, then very many steps leading to the temple. I thought I’d be more out of breath considering the number of steps and the high temperature. But I managed very well. My pre-trip work-outs are paying off.
Included in the temple grounds are many separate buildings surrounding it, all ornately decorated and constructed. Too bad we couldn’t enter the interior, I’m sure it would have been very elaborate also.
We stopped for lunch at a beautiful hillside restaurant. The dining area where we sat was open except for a roof overhead. The view from our table was absolutely lovely, looking out over terraced rice paddies, many shades of green as far as we could see, and lovely plantings throughout the grounds.
Once back on ship there was time to relax and read before dinner. There are many elderly people on this ship. At our Exploritas (formerly Elderhostl) reception I spoke with a woman who joined the group in Singapore that is 90. And I’m sure she’s not the exception. The ship is well maintained with a friendly crew, and there is no casino. Dinners so far are excellent, and I am using all of my will power to skip dessert.