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Published: July 18th 2010
Those of you who have read some of my previous entries know that I really enjoy walking around new places, often with no particular destination. Now that I am back in the US, I still have a few more photos that I would like to share, along with some random thoughts about this trip to Bali.
• Motor scooters are the prime mode of transportation. And the number of passengers on any give bike is limited only by the driver’s imagination. It was common to see an adult or two on a bike, along with a couple of kids and maybe the family dog. I would occasionally see an adult with an infant clutched to their chest with one hand, steering with the other. And any kid with a scooter is de facto in the transportation business.
• Probably the cheapest, though maybe the most confusing, way to get around town is by bemo. These are privately owned mini-vans that serve as public transportation along set routes, though it didn’t seem like they followed any particular schedule. I had been warned that bemo drivers often overcharge foreigners, but the fare they ask for is so little it really doesn’t
matter. Coming back from the grocery store in the pouring rain, carrying a half kilo of muesli, plus coffee, some fruit, a couple of books and a six pack of beer, the 2,000 rupiah fare (about US $0.22) was well worth it.
• I was continually struck by hard people worked for not very much money. Sand was carried to construction sites by women toting huge, heavy baskets on their heads. I could get a short-sleeved sport shirt washed, pressed, wrapped in cellophane, and hand-delivered to my hotel room for 2,000 rupiah (about US $0.22.) I can only imagine the back-breaking labor involved in rice cultivation. But people seemed glad to have work, and it didn’t take much in the way of cash to get by.
• Shopkeepers, even though they are usually not out in the hot sun, work hard for their money, too. One man, who had a store full of mass-produced tourist tat, really
wanted me to buy something. In desperation he finally says to me “Find one thing you like and I will give you good price.” There was a beer-bottle cooler emblazoned with Bintang
the name of the local brand of beer. When
If only it were this easy...
I pointed at that he said “OK! Bintang condom! 30,000 rupiah.”
• When a shop keeper does manage to make a sale, it is common for her to touch the money you have given her to other items in the shop for good luck. It is kind of like saying to the other items in the store “Come on, you lazy things! Make me some money!”
• Religion is an integral part of everyday life. Offerings of rice, incense, and flowers are placed outside of every home, shop, shrine, and many intersections. Cars and motorbikes get their little symbols of blessing as well. Temple processions are common sights. Bali is primarily Hindu, and these offerings are an acknowledgment of the bounty of God.
• I found the food in Bali to be incredibly good. I like rice, which is a good thing since it’s served at every meal. Coconut, lemongrass, garlic and chili are common seasonings. But perhaps the best meal I had in Bali was at Ibu Oka
where the only thing that is served is every part of a roast pig, including meat, skin, and blood sausages (with rice, of course.) The place is always
Bemo in Sanur
There are two metal benches bolted to the floor along the sides of the mini-van. NOT luxury transport!
packed, but they will find a spot for you, even if that means balancing a plate on top of a low wall. This is unquestionably the best roast pork I have ever had, anywhere.
• The ice cream man sells cold treats from the back of his bike, not from an ice cream truck. However, like ice cream sellers all over the world, he has the same annoying song to let you know he’s coming.
• Cock fighting is legal and quite common, though I could never find anyone who would admit to going to one. I thought the baskets I saw with roosters in them were to take the bird to market until I was corrected. If you see a large crowd of men headed in one particular direction, they are probably headed to a cock fight. The birds fight to the death, and I’m told that death comes very quickly.
• I flew China Air from LAX to Denpasar. In the galley of the 747 is a small sign (in English) directed at the cabin crew: “Speak softly; work gently.” The purpose of the sign was most likely to remind the crew not to make
a racket when people are trying to sleep, but I just really liked the idea of working gently.
To all of you I say “Selamat perjalan” - safe journey. Bali, May-June 2010
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