As we sit in a traffic jam caused by a funeral, ceremony and cremation, I will review todays photographic tour so far. Dean is our guide and he appreciates photo opportunities so stops on a dime (in the middle of the road) if we see something we think is photo-worthy. First back road we see some women harvesting rice. Dean says "this is it-REAL Bali" so we park in the road, dodge the motorbikes and cars and walk into the rice paddy. The men are gathered under the trees, appreciating shade and "supervising". The women are hard at work but take time to smile and wave to us. Dean has a conversation with them and they demonstrate what they are doing so we can get a photo. Next we move on the the Holy Water Temple where people come for purification. They make an offering, wade into the water, say a blessing and duck under the torrent of water to get wet. Whole families are here-it is Sunday-for this sacred experience. We then go next door to the ceremony. High Priests are preparing for a service. It appears to be a long, complicated process involving dressing, incense, holy water/oil, headdresses and decorations. After an hour in the hot sun and lots of photos of the priests, the people and the Temple we decide to move on. This move is ill fated. After a brief drive down a 4 lane road (very unusual), we come to a stop. Cars, trucks and motorbikes are everywhere-all stalled --waiting for some movement. Dean discusses the situation with a few drivers nearby. It seems there is a ceremony at the Temple ahead and the road is blocked (of course, it is the ONLY road). We could be here up to 4 hours. With a number of inquiries, an interesting 3 point turn around in bumper to bumper stopped traffic, we head back the way we have come. Consulting the GPS we find an alternate route but in discussion with the locals find it is "rocky" (translation: unpaved "path", not exactly a road). We now refer to this as the DEANTOUR (as opposed to detour). We actually are on our way to our destination-lunch along the beach. WAIT, there is another Temple ceremony happening. Dean says this will be great for some "detail photos". Women are hard at work making cone shaped rice cakes for offerings, a family is at prayer with a priest and no one minds us wandering around taking photos of whatever we like. After exploring this temple, we head to that beach spot for a bite.
It has been a day of temples, ceremonies, offerings and people. Being off the tourist track has allowed some interesting interactions with the local people. All seem to love random conversations with strangers. We have gleaned some interesting facts-families live in "compounds" with male children staying following marriage to take care of aging parents and inherit the wealth. Female children move to their spouses compound. The family builds temples to each God and each ancestor. The more money the family has the more elaborate the temples are. Many yards are crowded with temples.
Next stop is the Lake Palace and across the street men planting rice. Interesting that one can see harvesting and planting on the same day. White rice has a constant cycle, so it is planted and then harvested every 90 days. Black rice takes longer to mature. Onto our spot for watching the sunset. We are headed to a temple on the top of the mountain. Quite an experience driving up the winding road, dodging motorbikes, chickens and occasional other vehicles. We park, pay the requisite 30,000rp fee and then realize it is a hike up an almost vertical road to get to the spot for photos. We don our sarongs and take off.
After waiting for a not very spectacular sunset, we head back to our villa for dinner and a dip. Oh wait, the traffic we encountered at the temple on the way this direction..it is STILL backed up 8 hours later. This was too crazy an experience to even describe, but we waited (on the wrong side of the road) for over an hour before the police sorted out the mess and we could head back home. We had not counted on a 13 hour day when we left..exhausted, but with hopefully many good photos we arrived back just in time for a fashionably late (10 pm) dinner.