Back in Manila, I retrieved my luggage and texted Dave. He had planned to go with me to Bali. I wanted the company and wanted to do a little research on worship and discipleship on a Hindu Island in a Muslim nation. Dave would be of lots of help. But some thing had come up at his church that might make it impossible for him to come. I honestly had no idea whether he would show up to the airport or not. I shot him a Facebook message, but, when I didn't hear from him right away, I got checked in for the flight and headed to security.
The airline gave me a hard time about how much luggage I was carrying on. Apparently, they thought I should pay a CRAZY excess baggage charge. They said security would stop me with my baggage. I told them I would take my chances. Security did give me a hassle, but eventually let me through. Ugh.
I traded the Filipino money I had left for Indonesian currency and found a place to relax at the boarding gate. Then, Dave sent me a message that he was on his way. I told him to meet me at the gate. I was actually a little surprised when he showed up. Not sure why, but I really thought he would decide the trip would not work with his current obligations. We boarded the plane and were off an another adventure.
The flight would take us most of the day. We had to fly to Kuala Lumpur, then change planes for Bali. KL was a bit of a maze to get through. We decided to get some lunch but discovered the only option was a packaged sandwich at Dunkin' Donuts. Hm. Dave really wanted rice, but I wouldn't go back through security to get it. The flight was delayed, so we spent a bit more time at KL's airport than planned. Eventually, we got onto the flight and made our way to the island of Bali. It was late, but Dave was hungry. No rice since breakfast. So we ate a bite at the airport before grabbing a Grab Car (an Asian version of Uber) to our hotel.
We had a few interviews set up and wanted to observe both Hindu and Christian worship experiences. Hinduism makes up about 90% of the island's population. Most of the remainder of the population is Muslim with a few Buddhists thrown in for good measure. Christians are a small minority on the island, and those who claim the name of Christ are largely Catholic. The evangelicals on the island are largely immigrants from other places. There is relative freedom of religion on Bali, so churches practice their worship openly. Still, because of the multi-cultural background, Christians are much more likely than Hindus to express worship in English and seem to be heavily influenced by the American and Australian churches. The idea that the church worship should reflect the island's culture seemed like an odd idea to them. Since the local culture is largely Hindu, why would their worship styles follow anything Hindu? They seemed a bit more open to discussing the idea that they could express worship in local language, but saw it as mostly impractical. I'm not sure how representative this attitude was. Perhaps not all that much.
Hindus easily mixed Balinese culture and religion. For example, I observed a Balinese dance that told the story of a Hindu couple, sort of the Hindu version of Romeo and Juliet. It was accompanied by a chorus of bare-chested men doing what they called "tack-ing." It is a rhythmic and choreographed verbal chatter that provides the "music" for the religious dance. The event was clearly for the tourists but blended local Balinese culture and Hindu religion rather thoroughly.
In any case, when we got the time, we headed North out of Kuta to the Tanah Lot Temple. We were excited to see it. It sits out on an island. You can walk across to see the Hindu temple at low-tide, but there is not land bridge at high tide. The grounds were beautiful and we fell into looking around and snapping pictures. However, to get onto the "island," you need the blessing of a Hindu holy man. We couldn't see any real danger in receiving a blessing, so Dave went first. We dropped a few rupia in his basket. Dave washed his face in the fountain. Then, the holy man sprinkled some water on his head with a little brush, pushed some ashes onto his forehead, and stuck a flower over his ear. I was definitely getting this on film. Er, digital...shot...image...something. I went through the same thing and Dave grabbed my camera to get my picture being splashed, muddied,and flowered. The experience prepared us to walk up about 20 steps and...nothing. It was a slightly nicer view of the ocean. Hm.
Back in Kuta, we made some arrangements to "Try Diving" the next day. Then, we got some dinner. Neither of us have ever been diving, so we are pretty excited. Found a place to listen to some bad rock music until we were tired enough to head to the room and get some sleep.