Bali - May 2013 travel blog


May 10th:

We sat by the pool for the better part of the day. We also ate at a fab little restaurant called Kendi Kuning which was recommended to us by Amanda and Ryan (they went a few nights ago). A pretty special place, the owner will come pick you up and drop you off from your hotel with a reservation. The restaurant is located right on the beach, and as you walk in, you can see the fresh seafood in coolers up front. You can hand pick what you would like to have them prepare for you. We ordered the jumbo prawns and red snapper, both of which were delicious. The prawns were larger than most lobster tails in the US (4 prawns=1 kilo). We also ordered a local dessert called bubur injin. It is made with the black rice and coconut milk - absolutely divine (as an afternote, after having it here we ate it at every place we went for the next 4 days, but none was as good as Kendi Kuning).

May 11th:

Today we moved to the Four Seasons in Sayan (just west of Ubud, about 1.5 hours North from the St. Regis). A far different climate, it is located in the hilly jungle region of Bali and is rainy/cloudy along with that unrelenting hot humidity. We had a villa located right on the river. The water sings me to sleep each night. We learned that river front property is not valuable in Bali. We were told that Bali Hindus believe there are invisible spirits that live by rivers. These spirits can not be seen by average Hindus, but if not cared for properly can be very malicious. The resorts that built here have small "homes" for the spirits to live in on the property so as to not displace them and upset the local Balinese.

As our room was not ready when we arrived, we headed to the spa and signed up for 2 hour spa treatments. I have to say, they were not only spiritually amazing, but incredibly physically enjoyable. I got to listen to David snore through a portion of his because it was just that relaxing. The descriptions:

For Jenn -

"Manipura

Manipura – the navel chakra – is located in the solar plexus and is our centre of health and beauty, governing our capacity to grow and develop. It is important to keep in balance if you desire more inner strength, sense of purpose and self-confidence. In the everyday life of the Balinese, offerings are made in prayer to the gods at least twice a day to help provide self-worth, guidance, protection and strength.

This elevating treatment floods the body with vital energy and inner warmth. The experience begins with an energizing and detoxifying foot and body scrub with freshly grated local ginger and local lemongrass, known for its warming and energizing properties. A bio-energy mud wrap is followed by a lemongrass and basil bath accompanied by a refreshing and warming ginger and lemongrass elixir. A massage with vital energy oil restores inner radiance and positive feelings, brings renewed strength and health, and leaves the skin brilliantly lustrous."

For David -

"Sahasrara

Sahasrara – the crown chakra – is located at the top of the head. Symbolized by a lotus flower with one thousand petals, it is the chakra of pure consciousness. It represents liberation, inner wisdom and – as the point of entry for celestial energy – is our connection to the universe. The top three chakras on the body – Vishuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara – are all considered the spiritual chakras, focusing on self-awareness, peace and enlightenment. In Balinese culture, the head is sacred and mustn’t be touched without invitation, because it is believed to be the link to divine love.

The Sahasrara treatment begins with a kundalini foot scrub and back massage using orange blossom and jasmine oil, attracting universal light. The crown of the head is anointed with a special oil and then the head is massaged and treated with a hair mask. This enlightening and unifying treatment rejuvenates the nervous system through a sequence of massages that channel energy from the heart of the earth to the higher self, regenerating the life force and encouraging you to reconnect with your source."

After fixing our chakras, we headed into Ubud for dinner, a 15-20 minute drive. We went to a place called Lamak. Charming little place with outdoor courtyard, we enjoyed it but not as memorable as some meals (we had ribs and smoked snapper). The presentation was lovely.

May 12:

Today we decided to take another tour, and I'm glad we jumped on board with that idea again. Our guide was infinitely better than in Nusa Dua. We left our hotel around 10 and made our way to the Monkey Forest. The monkeys are thought to protect Pura Dalem Agung, the community temple. There are about 800 monkeys over this park, perched everywhere throughout the forest surrounding the temple. Surprisingly few are actually in the temple compound itself. The monkeys have no fear of people, and will walk right up and grab whatever you got if it looks interesting. David bought a banana to feed the monkeys, but within 2 seconds of having it a monkey blindsided him, stole it, and ran away. Our guide informed us that there is "monkey business" and "the monkey's business" going on here. Monkeys are clearly playful and "cheeky", but they have also figured out how to profit from the tourists who come to see them. Monkeys are well known for stealing items from tourists and climbing up a tree. Tourists will then ask locals to help get the items back, for a few, the local will feed the monkey, getting him to drop the item. The local wins, the monkey wins, and the tourist gets their sunglasses or camera back. Smart little buggers. We met another couple, Jenny and Sean, who had a monkey literally latch onto Sean's leg trying to get a water bottle out of a cargo short pocket. The monkeys like to climb trees and pour water on people as well. Funny for monkeys and people a like.

From the Monkey Forest we proceeded to Tirta Empul, the Water Temple. This beautiful temple, unlike the others we had sean, was PACKED FULL of people coming to bathe in the holy waters. Apparently it was an "important" or "good day" for prayer, but David and I were not clear why. At this temple, there is a cleansing ritual where each person enters a pool with 13 waterfall/spouts of water coming out of one wall. People line up and stand under each spout to pray. The 12th spout is only for the dead, so no living person stands under it. The 13th is only for those experiencing bad dreams. There are three springs that feed into the pools here where people pray and wash. The water can also be blessed by the priest/and process, then used for other purposes. For example, there is a stone statue where when water is poured through, it is used for treating infertility after a 5 year period of not being able to conceive. According to our guide, many couples have success. In Bali, bearing children immediately after marriage is expected and almost demanded. If you do not have children quickly, you do everything you can to remedy the situation. the grounds and temples are absolutely gorgeous and located in the valley of two huge hills.

After Tirta Empul, we made our way to Oka, an agricultural area where we tasted about 13 different Balinese teas/coffees and saw how they were grown. We also tried Luwak coffee here. Luwak coffee is made out of coffee beans post-digestion through the Luwak, a member of the cat family. The poop of the animal is collected, beans washed, and coffee made. It is supposed to remove the bitter quality of the coffee and also reduce the caffeine content slightly. It was, I have to say, delicious. Although perhaps not worth the constant reminder that you are drinking cat poop. Obviously bought some for my parents to try!

After driving through rice fields and to the north side of Bali, we arrived at Bali's volcanos: Batur and Agung. We could only see Batur due to cloud cover, but it was absolutely beautiful. The volcano is situated in a valley and towers over a beautiful lake (I think I heard the biggest in Bali?). We considered hiking, but at the end opted to take a few pictures from a look out instead. Maybe next time.

We drove back to Ubud, stopping at a silver factory and admiring the artwork displayed along the way. Bali roadsides are packed with stalls selling stone carvings, wood carvings, paintings, jewelery, sarongs, and other handiwork. Unfortunately most of it is HUGE and impossible to transport in a carry-on. I can only imagine what it costs to ship a life size stone Buddha to the states (again, after note: we found out that it costs a minimum of $280 per cubic meter to ship to the US, cheaper if you buy a crate and ship many many single piece mahogany tables and buddhas the size of small cars). The wood furniture was my favorite, some incredibly ornate and carved exquisitely into doorframes and chairbacks, others were sliced pieces of huge trees (mahogany and teak) polished to a gleam and set onto stumps, making them look almost natural. A huge mahogany table will run you about $150 US dollars. Almost worth the shipping.

Exhausted, we managed to keep our eyes open a bit longer and make it to dinner in Ubud again. We headed to a great little indonesian place and ate, again, more than we ever should have. I will miss the fabulous flavors that I have just never seen at home.



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