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Published: March 16th 2011
Bali is several thousands of miles and several centuries away from Australia. It is a mystical island which is deeply infused with the Hindu religion touching every aspect of Balinese life. To us, it is one of the few countries which has been able to maintain its spiritual traditions and way of life in spite of the world wide rush to modernity. We haven't been to the big tourist cities in Bali which are probably like any third world urban areas filled with cars and noise and high-rise buildings. Our ship drops anchor in Padang Bai. This is a rural part of Bali where there are as many temples as there are homes. The hillsides are covered with terraced rice paddies and tropical flora. There is currently a popular movie/book entitled "Eat, Pray, Love." The last part of the story takes place in Bali and it becomes a love story not only between a woman and man but of a love affair with a country and its culture.
We went with Steve in his private car with a guide to several temples because that is where the soul of Bali resides. Temple Goa Lawah has many beautiful pagodas and other
structures. The temple is built around a cave that is filled with bats, rats and pythons--which doesn't exactly inspire any spirituality in me. The swastika is a powerful symbol in Hinduism representing Yin and Yang or the balance of life. Even knowing this, it is still startling to see this broken cross decorating buildings and temples. We saw a Balinese security guard on the pier whose last name is Swastika---apparently a common surname here. Speaking of names, in Bali there are only four first names and each name is assigned according to birth order--Wayan, Made, Ketut and Nyoman. If there are more children born the cycle of naming repeats. One of our favorite waiters on board is I Nyoman. The “I” denoting that he is from a farmer caste family and he was the fourth born. An infant's feet are not allowed to touch the ground or to be named for the first 210 days of life. This signifies that the baby is pure and does not yet belong to the earth but is still part of the spiritual kingdom. After that the baptism takes place and the baby joins humankind.
Two days before we arrived, Bali observed Nyepi
Vic & Mary
Touring Bali in their private car compliments of Cruise Specialists
Day which means day of silence. People do not work, light fires or use electricity, drive vehicles or even go outside. The airports are closed and the buses stop. This gives the people and the land a chance to be cleansed in preparation for the Balinese New Year. The entire island goes silent and at night totally dark. It would have been interesting to be in Padang Bai for that quiet time but I imagine that they do not even allow ships to anchor that day. Bali is all about harmony and balance.
We went to the ancient village of Tenganan where the traditional crafts of basket making, mask carving and ikat weaving are practiced and where time-honored religious rites and ceremonies are part of daily life.
One of our favorite small resorts is located just above the harbor. Bloo Lagoon is a quiet retreat where we like to go for a swim, some Balinese food and therapeutic massages.
That night the ship decorated the pool deck for dinner under the stars—but in this case it was dinner under the rain and there were even passengers dancing in the downpour. Actually the warm, gentle rain just added
to the lovely evening as we floated on the bay of the “last paradise.”
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