Bali: Ramadan Rammed!
Jul 7, 2017
|We arrived in Bali just after Ramadan. After 30 days of fasting it seemed half of Indonesia had descended upon the southern part of the island to end their feast. It was RAMADAM RAMMED!
At the airport we met up with with my school friend and best man, Chris and Dewi, his Indonesian wife. They had flown from Java where they have made their home. We were driven to our rented Villa in the Canngu region, where Jan's sister Sally completed our Bali-band.
The Villa was a tropical paradise. As dusk fell we plunged into the cool swimming pool set amongst Ficus trees, palms, giant bamboos, strelitzias, sweet smelling frangipani, Cana lillies, and bright red condylinuns (to name but a few!) The cool waters washed away our travel fatigue while large white flowers fell from the surrounding trees. Good grief I am waxing lyrical already! We followed the swim with a cold Bintang beer........shear heaven!
Jet lag quickly kicked in and brain function came to a shuddering halt and it was time for our beds. Next there was a "school boy error"...........we failed to set an alarm and overslept until 1300 the next day! Quel horreur ......half a day of our "full on" schedule wasted!
After a LATE breakfast we all piled into the hire car and hit the road. Chris is an experienced driver in Indonesia and volunteered to drive. RESULT! Driving would have been a traumatic experience for me. Apparently, one of the first words you learn in this neck of the woods is "Mecat" or traffic jam. Driving in the southern part of the island was a beast. As Chris succinctly put it " you arrive in a brand new international airport in Denpasar but when you get outside the roads are still shit!" Never a truer word said but more of that later.
We drove to the hills in the North to get a feel for Bali. Two things struck us, there are an awful lot of temples and the interior is intensively (but beautifully) cultivated.
90 % of Bali's population is Hindu and they worship the holy trinity of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. Each village has multiple temples and each house has several shrines. The Balinese have a full time job keeping up with celebrations and daily tending of the shrines, pathway entrances, exits etc with "offerings" made of intricate bamboo trays, flowers and woven bamboo iconography. Some of the most impressive structures outside the temples are the drooping bamboo poles representing the tail of Barong and the shape of the biggest volcano called Gunung Agung. Their efforts to appease the spirits and gods clearly works as everyone seems to have a good karma.
North of Canngu, the countryside was covered with verdant, green, stepped and contoured rice fields. Although we have seen paddy fields in many countries these configurations give Bali its unique "feel". We climbed up into the foothills where the landscape just got better and better. The Balinese grow crops relentlessly and have developed a unique irrigation system and fertilise the soil continually with .......lets just say there are a lot of pig farms. The rice field workers toil hard as there is little mechanisation save "man and machine type rotavators" ploughing through the mud and sh*t!
Chris and Dewi have visited Bali many times and proved to be fantastic guides with deep knowledge of good eateries and how to get to the main sights. Our next stop was back in the south at the famous Naughty Nori's for allegedly the best pork ribs on the island. This was a noble gesture, as they are muslims and cannot eat pork! However they insisted we each tuck into a couple of racks of ribs washed down with cold Bintang beer. The ribs were delicious indeed and I am salivating as I recall the memory of the rich, sweet, spicy flavour. Yum, yum pig's bum!
Then it was home via a little traffic jam for some shuteye.