Saturday, June 16, 2012

I wake early to see the market while the food vendors are still there and before the tourists pack in, except I’m in Bali so and there probably isn’t any place that the tourists and hawkers won’t be found.

Feeling the symptoms of a cold coming I go to Juice Ja (another Mikal recommendation) where I order one of their many freshly pressed juice drinks and a shot of wheat grass. The wheat grass is surprisingly not bad, I’d almost venture to say it’s good, almost. Loaded with all sorts of naturally good vitamins I’m ready to start another relaxing full day.

I consider renting a bike and riding around the backroads but that sounds like a lot of pedaling decide on a much quicker route – a motorbike (don’t tell my mother – and, for the record, I asked for a safe driver with a helmet). It’s arranged through the guesthouse and a very young looking driver comes with a pink motorbike and they discuss what route to take in Bahasa so I have no clue what is planned. As we start down the narrow street he introduces himself and we make small chat for a few minutes then he tells me he’ll take me up to the mountains and by a few temples. For the next 20 minutes or so we continue past small village after village which have grown together, the road is again lined with shops selling statues, wood furnishings and other home/courtyard decorating elements. There seems to be a strong concern with aesthetics which is evident in the tasteful décor of the many restaurants and shops in Ubud.

We ascend up through the hills and the air changes temperature suddenly, becoming cool and sweet. The Balinese villages full of the traditional courtyard style homes, each with its own temple, whiz by and the fields turn into mountains. Volcanoes can be see in the distance nearly hidden by clouds and the dense air. We pass hundreds of students dressed up for one of the many Balinese ceremonies, today is for education and the goddess Sariswati I’m told. We move closer to the volcano where a lake forms at its base and I can see evidence of an eruption in the black soil where nothing is yet to grow.

At the top of the mountain we come to a Balinese Hindu temple which overlooks the volcano. Before entering I’m dressed in a sarong and sash by women outside the temple.

Heading back down we stop a few more times and then to another Balinese-Hindu temple, Pura Tirta Empul. This one is crowded with hundreds of students all dressed up and carrying offerings. There is a sacred water which naturally bubbles out of the ground and flows through fountains in which lines of people are bathing.

The next temple, Gunung Kawi is down a hundred+ steps, surrounded by rice and tombs carved into the cliffs. My unofficial guide* doesn’t know the story of this, but reveals that he is now curious to learn…

It’s said Bali has over 10,000 temples so with 3 down I have a lot to go.  It’s probably true considering most homes and courtyard households have small temples within them.

When we get back to Ubud, I’m hungry, tired and happy, so after a quick nap I head to a well-known restaurant which specializes in vegan, vegetarian and other healthy selections and an interesting clientele. With soooo many options I’m again having trouble deciding, in the end I order a samosas, another fruit drink – banana, almond and dates and finally a traditional drink. The traditional drink is for ‘a cold,’ It looks a lot like mud, even settles like mud so you have to stir and drink, and takes a little while to get down so it must be extremely good for you.

I’m still not feeling fully energized and so after some more exploring decide to make it an early night while I make a few attempts to book an online flight to Semarang to see a former classmate and colleague in Semarang a few hours drive from Yogyakarta my next stop, but none of my cards are working for online booking, which is the same problem I was having last week.


*Real tours are available from many, many travel agents in Bali, some as low as 170,000 Rp for a day (around 20 USD).


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