We have spent 10 days in Bali. The last time we were here was about 25 years ago for a short visit with Krysta and Chelsea on our way back from Denmark.
The first thing we noticed, after spending time in Sulawesi, were the many, many temples and the daily offerings left beside them. Each family compound has a smaller family temple as well as larger community ones. At present they are all decorated in gold and white for Galungan.
Hindu Balinese have just celebrated Galungan which marks the beginning of the most important religious ceremonies. The spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings. The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjor - bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end. These are installed by the side of roads.
Pigs are slaughtered for feasts, it is a national holiday and families get together. Ten days later Kuningan is celebrated with prayers and offerings and the spirits return to heaven.
Ubud had changed from what we had remembered 25 years ago (why should this surprise us!?). If we thought then that it was touristy, it is even more so now with lots and lots of Europeans - Germans, Dutch, French etc. and a traffic jam of cars. There are also so many markets and souvenir shops, but we are not good customers at all, as we must be able to fit anything we buy in our backpacks!
Sven, being the lovely husband that he is, agreed to join me for an afternoon wandering around the Monkey forest. I can spend endless time fascinated with these creatures (Sven less enamoured with them!). I tried to restrain myself with the camera! They are macaques and you can watch their feeding, baby minding, playing, mating and grooming antics up close. One saw a piece of plastic bag protruding from Sven's backpack, leapt on his back, deftly removed the plastic bag - which only contained toilet paper - ripped it to bits for a while before losing interest.
We took a tour from Ubud, stopping on the way to taste different coffee. A speciality coffee is Luwak coffee. The beans are eaten by the nocturnal luwak, they pass undigested through their system, the poo is picked up by villagers, sifted through and the undigested coffee beans processed. No, I haven't acquired a taste for it! From Kintamani near Mount Batur, we hopped on bikes and cruised downhill, downhill, downhill past coffee plantations and rice fields back down towards Ubud.
To escape from all the Ubud tourists, we went to Munduk, a small village way up in the mountains. It is a popular trekking area with spectacular mountain views, surrounded by rice paddies, clove plantations (not ripe until August) and several accessible waterfalls.
Up here especially we were reminded that it is the rainy season, with afternoon downpours. We don't go anywhere without our umbrellas! Often if we shelter somewhere for half an hour during the heaviest downpour, it tapers off and we can continue on again. We have sheltered in some interesting places and got to talk to the friendly locals while we wait for the rain to abate.
From Munduk in the centre of Bali, we moved to the Northern beaches where the sand is black and the water warm. We visited Lovina and Pemuteran and from here went straight to the airport for our flight to Manila.
We were successful at getting a 60 day visa on arrival at the airport so can stay now without having to get a visa extension until our flight to Vancouver on 7 April.
WOOFing No. 2 starts tomorrow in Laur, about 4 hours north of Manilla. We will be here until we return to Manila on 29 February to start our 11 day Intrepid Travel trip.