Bali, Indonesia 2020

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March 26th 2020
Published: May 8th 2020
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Bali Iconic Rice TerracesBali Iconic Rice TerracesBali Iconic Rice Terraces

No tour of Bali is complete without a ride through the countryside to see all the beautiful, iconic rice terraces

As you have probably figured out, these travel blogs are a way for Bernard and me to keep track of our adventures. I can't tell you how many times we've referred to one of our over 70 travel blogs looking for various details, maps, dates, etc. That said, feel free to enjoy the photos and just skim or ignore the text.

Bali, Indonesia (& Doha, Qatar) February 15 - March 15, 2020

Bernard (judge/juror) and I (in administration) work with the week-long Jean-Pictet International Humanitarian Law Competition, which is held in a different country every year. The past two years we’ve had double sessions:
Indonesia on Top, Bali BelowIndonesia on Top, Bali BelowIndonesia on Top, Bali Below

Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands, of which Bali is but one. On the top map Indonesia is represented in the lightest color, extends over much of the Indian Ocean and includes portions of Borneo and Papua New Guinea
one week for French and English speakers and another week with English only competitors.

This year the Pictet competition was a double session held in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia (2/22 - 29 and 3/7 - 14). We had a week in between competitions, which we spent at a beach spa resort in the northwest of Bali.

February 15 - 19, 2020 Doha, Qatar

Before getting to Bali we spent five days in Doha, Qatar - see previous travel blog entry.

February 20 - March 16, 2020 Bali, Indonesia

Bali History & Information

Bali is home to about 3.2 million people. About 95 percent are Balinese. The other 5 percent are Chinese, Muslims and other minorities. About 80 percent of the island's population live in the southern part of the Bali. Much of the western part of Bali is uninhabited jungle, where tigers lived until the 1940s.

Bali has long enjoyed the reputation of being an enchanting place where everyone seems to be an artist, everyday is a festival, fruit and flowers grow in abundance, and gentle heavily-made-up little girls perform mystical dances.
Danu Bratan TempleDanu Bratan TempleDanu Bratan Temple

One of the many 'public' Hindu temples that have become parks and open spaces for the public. There were tons of people here, picnicking, eating in the 2 or 3 restaurants on the grounds and enjoying the gardens on a lovely day
In the minds of many people Bali is as close to paradise as you can get. It has beautiful scenery: temples, rice terraces, beaches, volcanos and beautiful villages placed among lush vegetation. For better or worse these things have been exploited by the tourism industry. In recent years Bali has suffered from its reputation. Many places have became crowded, overdeveloped and spoiled.

Bali is a relatively small, diamond-shaped island. It covers only 2,154 square miles/5,580 square kilometers and measures 87 miles/140 kilometers across from east to west, and 50 miles/80 kilometers from north to south. No part of the island is more than 19 miles/30 kilometers from the sea. The inhabited areas are mostly in the south and east. The landscape includes large volcanos and dense forests in the north and a coastal plain in the south. In between are steep ridges and ravines covered with cascades of rice terraces and rimmed by coconut palms, bamboo and banana trees. Most of the western part of the island is forest. Bali’s central mountain chain contains several peaks over 6,500 feet/2,000 meters and many active volcanos. Mt. Agung volcano dominates the north part of the island. The volcanos produce
Morning Temple ProcessionMorning Temple ProcessionMorning Temple Procession

Early one morning at tour resort in the northwest we heard music and went out to investigate - so glad we did as a temple procession was passing. Festivals and temple processions are an on-going feature of Bali - you never know when you'll run into one
nourishing volcanic soil and the mountains block clouds, bringing lots of rain.

Bali is located just 8 degrees south of the Equator. The climate is nearly the same the year round. The temperature averages around 82˚ F./28˚ C. Humidity rises during the day and drops at night. The air temperature is most delightful in the cool mornings and evenings. On Bali, the rainy season is between October and March; the dry season between April and September. The high season for tourists is July and August. The temperatures this time of the year are slightly cooler than the rest of the year and there are refreshing breezes coming off the sea. The low season is in the winter when the weather can be muggy, hot and rainy.


Bali was colonized by Hindu invaders in the 9th century and unlike most of the rest of Indonesia, the island refused to bow to Islam when it arrived several centuries later. Bali is the only Hindu island in Indonesia and contains one of the largest concentrations of Hindu people outside of India. Balinese Hinduism incorporates elements of animism and ancestor worship, draws few distinctions between secular, religious and supernatural
Jean-Pictet 33rd EditionJean-Pictet 33rd EditionJean-Pictet 33rd Edition

Bernard and me with 2 of my 3 assistants (Petits Bras), Christina (Russian) and Diane (French) to the left; Marjan (Iran), one of the tutors to my right. Marjan is the young lady who arranged for Bernard to lecture in Iran (didn't happen) a few years ago.
life; and makes no real distinction between the living and dead. The arts are held in high esteem. Artists include painters, woodcarvers and basket makers. One thing you see everywhere are wonderfully carved and colored wooden flowers. The Balinese are regarded as warm, mellow and fun loving.

February 20 - 28 Denpasar, Bali

Concours Jean-Pictet Competition, Edition 33 - Winners: Australia

The **33rd Edition of the Jean-Pictet International Humanitarian Law Competition was held at the Harris/Pop Hotel in the capital city of Denpasar, Bali.

**This was a dual French and English speaking competition, but English speakers only compete against English speakers and French with French.

The Jean-Pictet Competition is a training event in international humanitarian law (IHL) for students (law, political science, military academies, professional institutes) taking part in the competition in teams of three.

The 48 selected teams, usually from the five continents, receive remote training in IHL. They then meet for one week in a place that changes every year (Bali this year, France last year), for the competition itself. They compete in the context of simulations and role plays built around a
The KitchenThe KitchenThe Kitchen

This wacky group of people comprised The Kitchen in the 34th Edition: Marcos (Argentina), Artemis (Greece), Emiliano (Argentina), Julien (France), Catherine (USA), Michel (France) and Christophe (France). The Kitchen, I and my assistants worked together in a very small space from early morning to late at night and yet I still ADORE all of these people - go figure.
fictitious armed conflict. Teams and support staff play the role of actors of armed conflicts (military, humanitarian, political officers, lawyers) in a context larger and richer than the sole judiciary context. Teams benefit from the support of tutors in tests where they are assessed by the jury. All tests are oral - no written part is required.

Bernard has acted as a juror for 12 years and this was my 9th year as administrative assistant to the overall coordinator of the competition, Christophe. There are **approximately 43 staff members and 144 students. The other support staff have become good friends, so every year it is like a family reunion.

**The number of teams vary and can change at the last minute because of all sorts of reasons - getting visas is always an issue. This year the second edition (34) had MAJOR changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic - 12 teams dropped out! You can imagine the administrative nightmare that was for Christophe, our Administrator and my boss. Still don't know how Christophe managed (magic?) to rearrange so many details to have one of the best Pictets EVER.

While the average
Wait StaffWait StaffWait Staff

The staff at Taman Sari resort were superb - efficient, professional, immaculately dressed, always smiling and kind. Plus with the COVID-19 keeping people away (tourism from China is normally huge), the ratio of staff to guest was ridiculous
temperature in Bali in March and April is 82˚ F./28˚ C, in the city of Denpasar it is 88˚ F./31˚ C. Our temps were around 90˚ F/32˚ C. every day and it was still the rainy season, so the heat and humidity were killer. I have to admit, however, that for the second session, having been in Bali two-weeks by then, we had acclimated somewhat, particularly to the humidity.

I've put more photos from the competition at the end of this blog with some additional explanations. Bernard and I have been trying to explain for years what exactly we do for 1 or 2 weeks every spring when we go to 'Pictet' - suffice it to say it is a fantastic experience with so many wonderful friends.

February 29 - March 6 Pemuteran Bay

Those who know Bali may be wondering why we choose Pemuteran as our destination for our 'holiday' from Pictet. This was our third trip to Bali. On our first two trips we did all the typical touristy things - temples, art galleries, religious processions of all kinds. We'd seen an amazing cremation ceremony from beginning to end - an all-day affair. Visited mask makers, painters and carvers. We'd gone to numerous shadow puppet shows, traditional dance presentations - you name it and we did it, likely at least 3 times. We read/studied the Ramayana and Mahabharata to understand the many dances and ceremonies - steeped ourselves in the culture and enjoyed every minute.

In addition to having been to Bali twice before, last year at the Pictet in France, during our off week, we decided to rent a car, drive from northern France, through Switzerland all the way to Italy and back. Yep, NOT a good idea - too much driving and not enough resting. So this year we decided on a 5-star spa resort on the beach for lots of ocean time and just plain relaxing. As you'll see from below, it didn't turn out exactly as we'd planned, but for other reasons, was still an excellent idea.

This was the week between Jean-Pictet competition 33 and 34. We work long hours doing mentally, and for me physically challenging, work for a solid week, so were very much looking forward to our time in the northwest of Bali at a beautiful beach resort
Kerta Kawat TempleKerta Kawat TempleKerta Kawat Temple

This was an active temple where access was restricted if not praying and everyone had to wear traditional clothes
and spa, Taman Sari (translated as Beautiful Gardens). We'd arranged transport from Denpasar to our resort, which arrived promptly on time Saturday morning (Pictet goes from Saturday to Saturday) for our 5-hour ride along the beautiful west coast of Bali to Pemuteran in the mountainous, jungle area of the northwest. We had only one tourist stop on the way up, which was at a coffee plantation in the mountains - lovely spot, wonderful 'coffee/bathroom break' and we bought some interesting coffee.

The 5-hour ride was a bit arduous for me. At the end of the Pictet competition, after the closing ceremony I started feeling ill - long story short: I spent the majority of our 'vacation' super sick. The resort had a doctor come to me and he gave me a shot for nausea, electrolytes and antibiotics for e-coli; said if I didn't feel better in a few days, call again. About three days later I called the doctor, he met us at a clinic for a blood draw and then later came to our resort with the results: The e-coli was gone, but I had an amoebic issue, so was put on another round of antibiotics.
Banyan Tree & B.Banyan Tree & B.Banyan Tree & B.

On our temple tour out of our resort in Pemuteran in the northwest of Bali we drove through a huge, sacred banyan tree

The resort had a first-class restaurant with imported wines, amazing seafood, etc., but I didn't get to enjoy it to the fullest as I was afraid to eat too much. Fortunately the grounds were extensive and beautiful, so we walked a lot, enjoyed our semi-private swimming pool, spent lots of time at the bar/cafe (bathroom close-by) right on the beach where we could catch delightful sea breezes. Toward the end of the week I felt good enough for a couple of excursions.

Mountain Temple Tour

Through our hotel we arranged for a guide and driver for a temple tour into the mountains where it was cool and misty - a delightful change from the ubiquitous heat and humidity of the low-lands.

Our first 'temple' was really a church: Palasari Catholic Church. There are a fair number of Catholics in this area and, according to our guide, they get on well with the majority Hindu and Muslimsi. Our guide's sister had married a Catholic and the couple had harmonious relations with all the extended family, which includes Muslims.

Our next stop was at a Hindu temple, Kerta Kawat, which was perched above a black sand beach and with amazing panoramic views. This was a **functioning temple, so we had to wear sarongs - I think the headdress they gave Bernard wasn't really mandatory, but it did make him look rather dashing.

**We were not allowed into many areas of the temple; only people going to pray had access.

Our next stop was a Buddhist temple, Vihara Dhame Giril-Pupan. It too was a functioning temple, so we continued to wear our sarongs, but again there were areas of the temple we weren't allowed in.

On our travels in the mountains we saw stunning scenery, lush rice terraces, went through many villages, stopped at a sacred Banyan Tree and had lunch at Banyuwedang, a hot springs resort. Very, very nice day and exactly what the doctor ordered - I felt physically and mentally renewed.

Snorkeling Excursion

The following day we went on a snorkeling excursion to Menjangan Island (Deer Island) not too far from the coast. We were a international group of eight.

Our first snorkel was delightful -
Vihara Dharme Giril - Pupan Buddist Temple.Vihara Dharme Giril - Pupan Buddist Temple.Vihara Dharme Giril - Pupan Buddist Temple.

We had to wear sarongs to visit the Hindu and Buddist temples as they were active temples. There were other 'public' temples that you didn't have to wear sarongs to visit.
nice coral, tons of colorful fish. We then stopped for lunch at Menjangan Island where there were indeed MANY deer. The deer were obviously used to being fed as they became quite a nuisance. On young doe actually pulled a sandwich out of the hands of one of our group.

After lunch we boated to another snorkel site, which turned out to be the worst snorkel EVER - we were literally swimming through garbage. I suspect we were near the mouth of a stream and since it was the rainy season, garbage was being washed out to sea. The garbage looked like it had come some distance and/or been in the water for a while - plastic pretty shredded, for example. We didn't get to enjoy any coral or fish as we were just power swimming back to the boat to get out of the garbage dump. Seriously, as bad as an experience as it was, everyone should have to do something similar to bring home how much humans are ruining our oceans.

All too soon our week at Taman Sari was up and Saturday morning our driver delivered us back to Denpasar for
Snorkel Trip Taman Sari Resort & SpaSnorkel Trip Taman Sari Resort & SpaSnorkel Trip Taman Sari Resort & Spa

From our resort in Pemuteran, northwest Bali, we spent a day snorkeling with 6 other international travelers
the 34th edition of the Concours Jean-Pictet Competition. We did, however, have a treat in store for us on our drive back. We stopped at a 'public' temple, Danu Bratan Temple, on a gorgeous lake. At a public temple area you have places to pray, but mostly beautiful gardens, sport fields, restaurants - yes, what we think of as a public park, but with a religious component.

March 6 - 15, 2020 Denpasar, Bali

Concours Jean-Pictet Competition 34th Edition - Winners: Singapore

As I mentioned, the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold around the world. There were no cases in Bali yet, but we had twelve teams drop out - mostly afraid they'd not be able to get home after the competition. While dealing with innumerable changes to the competition, Christophe was also working with the students re: their return flights. The 43+ support staff were also dealing with cancelled and rerouted flights, countries that wouldn't let people in or pass through - truly a nightmare.

But I digress. Even with fewer teams we had a really great competition. The premise of the completion I explained above. This was an English-only competition,
Ganesha TempleGanesha TempleGanesha Temple

On our snorkel excursion we passed many single temples and also temple complexes. This one is to the Genesha, the elephant god.
so in many ways easier because of the lack of having to translate documents, for example. The evolving scenario for the week is done daily in 'The Kitchen' (really just an office; 5-7 support staff; they 'cook' up the tests); the admin team made up of Christophe, me and my three assistants also work out of The Kitchen. Being so close to the action, it was easy to see from the 33rd Edition to the 34th Edition how much faster paperwork got completed when not having to translation English to French and vice versa. Then you had to have a native speaker proof-read each version - very time consuming.

I have very few photos from the 34rd edition as my camera apparently got some sand in its lens retractor while at the beach and wasn't working. I only had my phone, which takes terrible photos. Only at home when looking closely at my photos did I realize I don't have a single photo of one of my assistants, Mariya from Russia - sorry Mariya!!

I want to give a shout-out to the staff at the Harris/Pop Hotel where both editions of the Pictet were
Jean-Pictet 34 Night TestJean-Pictet 34 Night TestJean-Pictet 34 Night Test

The test ended at the pool with everyone singing original lyrics (written by Kitchen staff Catherine) to the tune from a song from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy
held - they were superb. I worked closely with about 5 staff members - from the hotel manager to low-level staff helping us set up the meeting rooms (6 rooms; two different set-ups every day). I also worked with the restaurant staff - feeding 200 people from all over the world with various eating restrictions/preferences is quite an undertaking and they did an amazing job. There was a vegetarian section for every meal, plus a pasta bar with vegetarian options. There was always a fish option, several soups and a variety of fruit. For the meat-eaters among us we had probably 4 options at every meal - usually meat & vegetables mixed with noodles and/or rice - some spicy, some not. To get an idea of Balinese food, it is similar to Thai cuisine - so Bernard and I were quite happy.

Our very last outing in Bali was on the day we left. Our flight didn't leave until the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, so we had all of Saturday. We'd not done much shopping and were interested in buying some art, so we headed to a local art market. Thank goodness a vendor
Pictet 33 CouplesPictet 33 CouplesPictet 33 Couples

Several couples volunteer regularly. Corinne & Christophe have attended every single competition, so for over 30 years!! Christophe is one of the founders of Concours Jean-Pictet. Diane & Xavier - it was Diane's first time, but Xavier has been part of the competition for many, many years.
at the market saw our perplexed looks as we tied to figure out the labyrinth that was a giant complex of artists and artisans. We told her what we wanted and she took us to various appropriate vendors; if we bought something, she got a fee we noticed.

After buying two oil paintings, having them rolled and packaged for us, we headed to Bali Bird Park to spend a few hours looking at exotic Indonesian birds. Lovely way to finish our Bali touring.

We got back to the hotel around 4:00 and didn't have to leave for the airport until **8:00, so I had my one and only massage of the trip; had been too sick on our 'vacation' and when working in Pictet, never had a spare hour to indulge. So I had a mani-pedi and a massage before our driver took us to the airport.

**Traffic in Denpasar is unpredictable and it was suggested that because of that we leave early and because of the COVID-19 issue, that we get to the airport super early. Well, the traffic was almost non-existent so we zipped to the airport and had
Bali Dancers @ Pictet 34 Closing CeremonyBali Dancers @ Pictet 34 Closing CeremonyBali Dancers @ Pictet 34 Closing Ceremony

While the jury deliberated as to the competition winner, we were treated to traditional music by a local gamelan group and traditional dancers. This photo was from our last trip to Bali as my camera this time went on the fritz. The dancers at Pictet wore the EXACT same yellow costumes - swear to God!
about 5 hours to kill before our flight.

As I mentioned, because of the corona virus, almost everyone except Bernard and me had issues with returning to their countries. One issue was being in transit in Europe, for example. Our Argentine friends were going to have to go into a 2-week quarantine because they flew through Paris. At this time there were countries saying they weren't accepting anyone, not even their own citizens, but most backed off that pretty quickly.

You might remember we had flown via Doha, Qatar and returned that way too - no cases in Bali nor Qatar at that point and flights were all flying. Our biggest worry was that we'd get to Dallas, our USA entry city, and find our flight to Tucson canceled. Turns out things went super smoothly. When going through Passport Control and Customs in Dallas, we were asked where we'd been and then just waved through - easy-peasy. Welcome to the USA where the COVID-19 lock-down was taking hold all over the country.

Actually Bernard and I were going to go into a voluntary 14-day quarantine because of our travels - long-haul
Pictet 34 - Gamalan Group @Closing CeremonyPictet 34 - Gamalan Group @Closing CeremonyPictet 34 - Gamalan Group @Closing Ceremony

This local gamalan group entertained us an accompanied the Balinese traditional dancers
international flights (1 of 15 hours), rubbing elbows with people from places COVID-19 surely was. Turns out all of AZ went into lock-down the day we arrived, so we were definitely not alone in our isolation. As I write this, tomorrow, Friday May 8th, Arizona is partially opening, with restrictions of course. I know I'm anxious to start our 'new normal,' get a haircut, enjoy a restaurant meal. In Arizona we were allowed out for exercise (with proper social distancing) the whole time, so we biked most days and walked with friends many. But damn I miss life as it was pre-COVID-19!!

Continue to stay safe everyone - I know our COVID-19 cases are still rising in Arizona, but we've improved our testing, which is the key to getting a handle on things. Thank goodness we have a university that has taken on the challenge - our federal government has been lacking in this and in many other areas.


Additional photos below
Photos: 67, Displayed: 35


Rice PaddyRice Paddy
Rice Paddy

The green rice shoots at the left will be hand-transplanted into the open ponds; super labor intensive and back-breaking work
Roadside Veggie StandRoadside Veggie Stand
Roadside Veggie Stand

Oblong avocados? We bought some and took back to Denpasar with us for the 2nd session of Pictet. They took the entire week to ripen, but eventually they were delicious
Bali TransportBali Transport
Bali Transport

Like in many Asian countries scooters are the go-to way of getting around - even for commerce

8th May 2020

fond Bali memories!
thanks, as always, for the informative and lively reporting! I flashed on memories of my two visits to Bali, in 1990 and in 1993. I remember someone once explaining to me the scope of Indonesia...if a giant stood in Seattle and threw a clump of mud which splattered all the way to Miami, those 17,000 splatters would represent the Indonesian Archipelago Islands.
8th May 2020

What a trip!
As I sit at home for the umpteenth week, this tour of Bali is a welcome diversion. As always, Kathy provides professional-quality photos with the historical background and narration so that I feel like a world traveler! Thank you! ?

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