Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Beautiful Day in Bali

I just saw an article on Trip Advisor citing Bali, Indonesia as the #1 tourist spot in the world, and I must agree, Bali is one of the most unique places I’ve ever been.
I was on a cruise when I stopped in Bali for the day.  In several ports, when the sea around island areas is too shallow (as was the case in Bali), we were taken off our ship and went to shore in smaller boats.
Landing in the port of Benoa, we were greeted by some pretty dancing girls in skirts and a wonderful band playing some of the local music.  For a second, I felt like I’d gone back to Hawaii.  Once I got further inland toward the city, I realized that Bali is nothing at all like Hawaii.  It’s a one of a kind destination, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Many of the residents are trained in the arts, and artists congregate in specific parts of town depending on what kind of craft they are honing.  Some artists are silversmiths,-many design intricate patterns on cloth, while others create ornate wood carvings.  It’s great to be in a culture where artists are so valued!
And speaking of art, Bali has special zoning laws for homes and buildings mandating that a certain portion from ground level on up is designed decoratively, making the area quite unique and scenic.
Nobody loves a good temple as much as I do, and if you want to see temples, Bali’s got them everywhere.  Known as the land of a thousand temples, it’s hard to see them all, there’s so many!
Bali is primarily Hindu and according to our guide, everybody is allowed to buy land and build a house as long as they adhere to one rule – 20% of the property must be used to build a temple, therefore everybody creates their own family temple, which is really awesome to see.

Aside from the private family temples, there are lots of public places to worship. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Pura Taman Ayun

Built in 1634 and renovated in 1937, the Royal Temple of Mengwi called Pura Taman Ayun served as family temple of the Mengwi dynasty and features a lot of the traditional temple structures we see in photos of Bali.  Gorgeous grounds and holy site.  A must see!

Tanah Lot

I had initially planned to see the famed Ulun Danu Temple (next time!) until I was persuaded to visit the volcanic temple of Tanah Lot instead, and I’m so glad I did!
This important sea temple is guarded by black sea snakes that are said to ward off evil spirits.  The snakes have been around since the beginning of time, kind of like a legend, but in reality, they aren’t legend at all.  They’re real!  We were warned to stay clear of them if we actually saw them slithering around the black lava walkways.  Personally I don’t mind snakes, but I was glad I didn’t run into any when I was there.
Apparently all the sea temples around the island are lined up to provide protection to the people from both spiritual and physical enemies.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Hawaii, and even though Tanah Lot is covered in volcanic black rock, the area did not remind me of Hawaii at all.
Surprisingly, it actually reminded me more of one of my other favorite places, Bangalore, India.  There’s a stunning botanical garden in Bangalore that sits below a rock that has a very similar vibe.  That might also be because Bali is Hindu.  I saw lots of ladies in beautiful saris walking around the rocks.  The area had a really neat energy.  I just wish I could have gone inside the temple, but unfortunately, during high tide, that isn’t possible.  Still, it was cool.

An Item on the Bucket List

Not only was my visit to Bali a major check off the ol' Bucket List, during the journey, our ship captain mentioned the amazing movie Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
In the movie, Jack’s character is rich and wants to drink the famous Balinese coffee called Kopi Luwak.  (here’s a Wiki link if you want to see more about it:
Apparently this is the most expensive coffee in the world because it’s made from partially digested cherries from some indigenous cat like creature called an Asian palm civit.
Sounds fun, right?  Appetizing too!  Not! lol
Well, despite the disgusting origins of Kopi, and the expense, I had to try it.  Not bad…not good either, but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

Above all, the people of Bali made the trip most worthwhile.  What a bunch of sweethearts!!!  A trip I’ll never forget!
For more about my trip to Bali, I've written about it for the summer 2017 issue of Venture Inward magazine.  I'll keep you posted when that comes out.  
Meanwhile, if you want to ask a question or have a comment, write me here and I'll reply.  
More articles are coming up.  
Until then, Happy Travels!

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