Monday, October 4, 2010

As I said in my last post I find that people in Bali are very spiritual. There are temples literally everywhere.

Some of them are public and really big (they are called "Pura")and some others are just small family ones.

Buddhism, Hindu and local gods live together peacefully and the reality is that the whole of Bali smells like incense !

During our trips we have visited many of temples and here you can see some pictures.

All of them look really impressive, with big entrance gates very decorated (kandi kurungs) , beatifull gates and plenty of sculpture for the Gods and the Damons.

The walls have beautifull gates and... watch out ! you are not supposed to go through all of them because some are reserved for priests :-) There are also big courtyards where ceremonies take place. But not also ceremonies.... also dance and theatre performances take place in the temples.

One thing I like is that the temples are always full of stuff that local people bring as gifts to ask for blessings or say thanks to the Gods or to keep the Demons happy and away.

Flowers, palm leaves, rice, meat and plenty of fruit lying around everywhere !

It is really amazing because there is a whole industry around gifts and offerings... did you know that an average household spends at least half of its income on offerings? quite impressive... specially because many of them seem to be very poor...

Ah ! something important... there is a special temple attire.

Formal dresses are only required during important ceremonies but, even if you just want to explore around, don't forget to put a long cloth (sarong) around your waist and tie it tightly with a belt or sash. Some local men also cover their head.

I also read that you are not supposed to go into a temple if you have an open wound or, not sure what that is but.... also if you are menstruating you should not go there. Have to remember to ask mom about that !

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cultural Ubud with Daniel the explorer

And when I say cultural that applies to all of Bali but somehow you just feel it even more in Ubud.

The city center is not all that big but there are plenty of things going on and, in any case, I have taken my "explorer" role very seriously and have gone around quite a lot to the villages nearby... painting, wood carving, stone sculptures, jewelery (mom and grandma specially enjoyed that one :-) are just some of the many arts Balinese people master.

Traditional Balinese dances are also something very special and there are plenty of shows with professional dancers and musicians.

All of them take place at night and, as the good German boy I am, I was fast asleep by then but I really enjoyed the pictures and videos mom, dad, the abuelo and the abuela took so that I could also enjoy the show.

In any case, the fun continued as well during the day as in many temples the also played traditional music . When that happened I was well trained and could follow the Balinese moves for my own private audience.

So the Balinese people are not only creative, they are also very religious.. so my abuelo was like a fish in the water. You can find the most impressive temples you will ever see but it doesn't just stop at that. There are small temples everywhere and people do offerings every day.

Everything starts very early in the morning when they take little baskets made of leaves filled woth flowers, food and incense to the Gods. Well, not only Gods but also Demons that look pretty much scary indeed.

But more on temples, Gods and Demons to come soon... are you curious? you'll just have to wait till tomorrow !

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Discovering Ubud

So the first days of our trip in Bali we stayed in Seminyak, a small town by the sea where we just relaxed by the pool in our villa.

Then, we rented a car and drove all the way up to Ubud, the cultural and artistic capital of the island.

The drive itself was a bit of an adventure because, let me put it this way... Bali is not precisely Germany when it comes to road signposting... but thanks to mom's impressive map reading skills we landed smoothly in Ubud. Dad was also great driving on the left and dodging the crazy motorbikes !

And then we arrived to paradise: Alam Shanti.

A beautiful boutique hotel with traditional balinese houses surrounded by rice fields. Colonial verandhas where we had breakfast every morning overlooking the palm trees...

Lovely rooms with high wooden ceilings and... fans ! You can't imagine how much I loved getting myself under those big fans and getting all the hair messed up :-)

But the best of all was the pool. It was just for ourselves so I could go all naked and enjoy the swim.

We stayed there 5 days so we had plenty of time to do a bit of everything... spend time in the hotel and do plenty of day trips around the area where we saw many temples, enjoyed some performances of traditional Balinese dance and, of course.... shop till we dropped !!!

Selamat Datang to Bali !

...or what it is the same... Welcome to Bali !

We are indeed having a great time here. Nice weather, lovely food and, of course, loooong swims in the pool :-)

But don't you guys think I am just living la vida loca here. I am also doing the homework and taking the family out for day trips to explore the wonderful things that Bali has to offer.

And... as I love eating rice so much, our first day out had to be visiting the famous rice terraces.
You see? we found this amazing spot just by chance, driving around in a lost village and then.... just after a curve... we saw it.
Don't you think it is an amazing landscape?
I any case, I am a man of action and watching was not enough so that same afternoon we went to walk through the rice fields like real troopers.
It was actually very nice to see how the terraces are made to prevent the rapid run-off irrigation of water. That way, the plants can keep humid for a longer time till the earth absorves the water and the rice matures.
Ha ! impressed by my knowledge? well, not everything is going to be about eating !