Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Return to Bali

I have just come home from a week long holiday in Bali with girlfriends.  I haven't been to Bali for about 30 years, and although much much busier and louder than I remember, the Balinese people still continue to delight with their gentle and giving nature.

The chef is carving a centrepiece for the table from a watermelon.  Each evening there was a buffet meal at our hotel with a different centrepiece carved from either watermelon or honeydew melon.  This carving had black olives for eyes.....some mornings I felt like that.

Hand weaving little baskets for the daily offering.  (Note the mobile phone!)

All offerings to the Gods are made in equal proportions.  The same offering is made to the good, and also to appease the bad.  That way, no god or spirit is offended, and everyone stays happy.  Not a bad idea.

We went on an elephant safari.  We were behind this particular elephant (obviously) and although the elephants ambled along quite slowly and sedately, it certainly didn't feel like that when you're perched up so high.  It was a bit scary at first, but at least I let go long enough to take a couple of snaps.

Our guide pointing out some farmland.  Each little plot is only about 10 metres wide, but very deep.  Families keep their animals and grow all their crops on this small space (if they're lucky enough to have some).  Some plots are only rented.

This family actually live on their land in a small compound of several homes, which house several families.

Couple of men taking back their harvest of banana leaves which they'll be using to encase their cooking or for making little offering baskets.  All these shots were taken from the back of an elephant, so I'm surprised they're even in focus!

 We went to visit a coffee plantation.  This little lady roasted the coffee beans in a metal dish over an open fire.    Hasn't she got a beautiful face, full of wisdom?  This shot isn't even in focus, and I was off the elephant by this time!  Still trying to get my sea legs obviously.

Spices and coffee drying in the sun.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was visiting the area where the batik is made.  It's so painstakingly slow, but the result is just magnificent.  (Ok, ok, so maybe that statement is a bit of overkill....but I really was in absolute awe!)

This piece still has several processes to go through.  Any wonder traditional batik is so expensive.  I only bought a couple of lengths of fabric for myself and a pair of slippers for a friend.  I wish I could have bought more though.

We were taken to a couple of small villages by our (ever obliging) taxi driver, where the Balinese still live in a traditional manner.  This chap is carting away the rubbish.  The rubbish is put out in little woven cane baskets and emptied into this cart by the 'driver'.  The lanes in this part of town are too small for any vehicle to go down and we had to walk for quite a while to get there.  Lucky we trusted our taxi driver because we never would have found our way out.  We were invited into a private home (where this photo was taken from), and although the Balinese have very little, I was surprised to see that the home was tiled in the most exquisite turquoise blue tiles.  Amazing.

We stopped a little way up the mountain to get some fuel and this was the view from the rear of the fuel station.

Nearly to the top.

And another one.  The scenery is gorgeous.
You can't see it here but in some areas flowers are grown (as we grow vegies) in great blocks of a certain colour. They're harvested and sold to the Balinese so they can make their offerings to the Gods.  I expect that the different colours of the flowers have a purpose, but I didn't find that out while I was there.  Must do some research.

Traditional market mostly with textiles.  I was offered some batik for 70,000 Rupees a length (about $7.50 Aud) which I declined because it was so hot and humid, we were all dying of thirst, busting for the loo, and pretty much 'over it'.  I could kick myself now of course.  They had fabulous patchwork bed covers too which you can see just in the left foreground.  None of us bought one of those dumb.

We stopped here on the way back down the mountain.  The weather was starting to get a bit drizzly.  This was also our first experience with a 'traditional' loo.........oh the powers of balance!

On the last night of our holiday, we were treated to a complimentary dinner with traditional Balinese dancing.  These people really are just so generous.  We could learn a lot from them as a society.

The beaches are pretty much just as I remember them, minus the umbrellas............
.............and the skies the same amazing azure blue.

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