One week in.....

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May 16th 2018
Published: May 16th 2018
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We are now a week into our Bali experience And we continue to learn about the Balinese way of life. Everywhere we have traveled we have encountered numerous temples, ranging from small ones out front of each house to the larger ornate temples at places of worship. Entrances into most buildings are through the traditional “split gates”. Some are quite plain but others are extremely ornate and very beautiful.

We had registered our trip with the Canadian Government before leaving and right after the bombings in Jakarta a few days ago, we received an “alert notice” from the Canadian Embassy advising us to stay out of Jakarta. Nice to know they are keeping tabs on us! That being said, we returned from a dinner out in the community last night about 9:00 and had just got settled in bed to read when there was loud banging noises that went on for about 5 minutes. Our first thought was that there was trouble outside so we just decided to stay inside. As it turned out, there was a wedding ceremony at the hotel next door that involved lots of fireworks. It is crazy how the mind goes to the worst case scenario first these days. We have been assured that the troubles are taking place in Jakarta and that there are no worries here in Bali. On that note however, we do see a heightened awareness here as well. We took a taxi from the hotel last night to a nearby restaurant for dinner. When the taxi pulled into the restaurant, the taxi driver automatically popped his trunk so the security guards could look inside and they also walked around the taxi with one of those mirrors on a long pole so they could see under the car. The same happens whenever we return to the hotel.

At any rate, we had a wonderful dinner. Dianne enjoyed a fresh snapper (and I mean fresh- she could pick her fish out of the ice) with vegetables and rice. I had 6 skewers of sate meat-2 beef, 2 pork and 2 chicken with vegetables and rice. The skewers came balanced on a dish that had a still smouldering briquette on the bottom to keep the meat hot. We had 2 cocktails and finished off with a delicious cheesecake for dessert and the bill was the equivalent of $34. Everything is amazingly cheap here! After dinner, the waitress ordered us a taxi, walked us to the taxi stand and the restaurant paid for our taxi ride home! She gave us a business card and said if we wanted to return another night for dinner, we could call the restaurant and they would pay for a taxi to come to our hotel to pick us up. Pretty hard to beat that kind of service!

As to our outings.....we visited a coffee plantation the other day where we watched the coffee making process, gathering the beans, roasting and drying them and grinding of course. We sampled 12 different kinds of coffee and teas, each with a list of medicinal benefits. All were delicious. These were all free but if we wanted to try the precious Lewak Coffee, it was the equivalent of $5.00 a cup. This coffee is considered to be not only the best but also the most expensive coffee in the world. The history behind it's origins is quite unique. Many years ago when Bali was a colony of the Dutch, the Dutch traders controlled all the coffee plantations and the local people had a difficult time getting coffee. The local people were hired to pick the beans and as they were picking they noticed that there was evidence of animal scat under the trees. What was happening was that a nocturnal animal looking like a mongoose would come out at night and feed on only the ripest coffee beans. They would poop out undigested coffee beans and the local people would gather these beans and clean them, roast them and grind them for their coffee. They discovered that the digestion process made the beans very strong and that the coffee produced was a very high quality. So.......of course we had to try this coffee and I have to say without a doubt it was the best coffee I have ever tasted. Our tour guide quipped that maybe this was where “capoochino” originated!

After our coffee break, we headed to an artisan village of “wood carvers”. We were able to watch these talented carvers hold pieces of wood between their feet while they used a mallet and chisel to carve out the designs. They were using mahogany, sandalwood, and ebony (which I discovered is actually dark brown) . Their creations were absolutely amazing. I bought a set of carved mushrooms growing out of a root, all made from sandalwood. It is beautiful.

Later we had lunch on a restaurant terrace overlong Lake Batur and the volcano. The sky was clear and the photo opportunities were amazing. After lunch we moved onto to the Tirta Empul Temple.

Tirta Empul is one of the largest and busiest water temples in Indonesia. The temple was founded in 926 A.D. and is dedicated to Vishnu, who is the Hindu god of water. The name of the temple actually means ‘holy water spring’ in Balinese.

Overlooking the temple complex is a presidential palace that was built for Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia, in 1954. The government palace is now used as a place to host visiting dignitaries and important guests.

The Jaba Tengah is the most famous part of Tirta Empul temple. This section contains the two purification pools. The water in the pools is believed to have magical powers and local Balinese come here to purify themselves under the 30 water spouts that feed the pools. Local Balinese and Hindu worshippers stand in long snaking lines in the pools, waiting to dip their heads below the water spouts.As you stand in the inner courtyard you’ll quickly notice that the people in the baths follow a purification ritual. Bathers start in the pool on the left and dip themselves under the first water spout. Once they have cleansed themselves under the first spout they join the next queue. They continue this process until they have been cleansed under each of the 30 waterspouts that fill the two purification pools. That is only long bath!

Behind the purification pools is the final section of Tirta Empul holy water temple, the Jeroan. The Jeroan, or ‘inner courtyard’ is a nice place to visit and relax after the hustle and bustle of the purification pools.The inner courtyard is where people come to pray. The front part of the courtyard is dominated by the large water spring that feeds the purification pools. The spring is filled with green algae and small fish swim between the reeds. Behind the spring are large Hindu shrines.

As you exit Tirta Empul water temple you pass through the final section, the large koi pool. This section of the temple is walled off on all four sides from the rest of the complex, which gives it a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Fat koi swim lazily in the pond waiting for their next meal from the tourists.

I hope this gives you a “slice” of our experiences in Bali so far. Another day beckons.......maybe some monkeys in our future!

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