Arrival in Bali! Heat, humidity. We changed currency and are now millionaires – at least in Rupiah.
Our driver from the Denpasar, Bali, airport to the Patra Jasa Bali Hotel “offered” to take us the next day to see some sites during our one-day stay in Bali. The first lesson we learned after the fact was that you are supposed to barter with everyone. Though we thought the deal he gave us
was more than fair, we probably could have got it cheaper.
His name was Gede (pronounced G’Day). Later in the day when he introduced one of his co-workers as Gede, we remarked how unusual it was that they should both have the same name. Silly us! All first-born Balinese are named Gede, men and women. There is also a name for the second, third, born on down the line. How confusing that must be!
Gede’s car, like every other car, was decorated with prayer offerings made of palm leaves. He drove us through the extremely busy streets to various sections of southern Bali, each section occupied by a different artisan group. “Busy streets” is a gross understatement. Two-lane roads are converted to 4 or 6 lanes by motor scooters squeezing between the cars, going all directions. Like England, they drive on the left side, so I soon learned to contain myself from shrieking when I thought we were going to die because we were on the wrong side of the road.
The first stop was to a Balinese theater; a story in five acts of good and evil creatures and the fight for victory. The dance was beautiful and the gamelan music mesmerizing. I think my eyes leaked a few tears.
We watched batik being made, gold and silver smiths at work, saw the civets out of which the kopi luwak coffee is harvested. Literally, out of the animals. Look it up. There we also got to taste 13 different coffee and tea beverages from ginseng coffee to flowery teas. The more hot beverages I drank, the more I sweated in the imposing humidity.
We went to a Hindu temple where every visitor was fitted in a sarong before entering. The rock carvings are incredible, especially when framed by the colorful vibrant foliage. Prayer trays made of palm leaves, flowers and aromatic grasses were placed everywhere. We bartered with a woman to purchase one and laid it on a statue of some god. She wanted 20,000 rupiah; we gave her 5,000 and she was delighted.
Woodcarving is everywhere, ornate, and beautiful. In the Rimba hotel in Papua where Freeport employees are housed on their trek into and out of the mine site, every door and table is from carved wood, usually mahogany. We watched carvers at work at one of our stops. We do realize that the day was planned by Gede to provide customers to all of the artisan shops, but we didn’t care. I got a couple of trinkets, and we had been chauffeured to places we would otherwise not have found on our own. By the way, tourists do not drive their own cars there.
Then after an exhausting day, Gede returned us to the Patra Jasa Bali, where we took another swim and had a beer at the floating bar (that was on my bucket list). Next time on Bali, we will venture out to more temples, beaches and who knows what? I just hope Tobias and Elizabeth are with us next time!
And perhaps my little frog friend in the hotel loo will visit me again next time. Now, that woke me up!