Still I feel like a stranger ....
May 30, 2010
|Feel like a stranger
Well you know it's gonna get stranger
So let's get on with the show ....
The "Island of the Gods" - Bali, Indonesia. WOW!
I'm in Bali, Indonesia - the most popular destination for foreign travelers in Indonesia. It is unique in the sense that Indonesia is 90% Muslim but Bali is mostly Hindu with some Buddhists thrown in. Very incredible place. Tiny island - you can drive around the whole thing in a day and it is jammed packed in the cities with people. I think there is close to 4 million people on the island. Amazing. It is 3rd world chaos at first glance - cars and scooters and motorcycles going every which way. People, dogs, noise, beggars, touts, and everything else you can or can't imagine going on at once. Crazy. But as you settle into the rhythm of it all it kind of just starts to jell and make sense.
The food is absolutely amazing. I have been eating in these Warung, a Balinese style restaurant with all kinds of delicious dishes to choose from. I can stuff myself for around $4/US. I have no idea what I'm eating so thank god it all tastes so good! So far no "Bali Belly" to report either.
Talking about Thanking God, there are "offerings" everywhere. The Balinese place small dishes made from palm fronds, containing flowers, crackers, rice and incense all over the place. I have had it all explained to me but I'll be damned if I can remember enough to repeat it here. Suffice to say that it is a spectacular site seeing these "offerings" all over the place. The Dive Master even made these "offerings" before we dove at each dive site (had to do with the full moon) and floated them out to sea. Very cool. What seem to me to be impromptu, but are in fact precisely in tune with their calendar, religious ceremonies have popped up in my travels also. I have witnessed dragons and drums, crowds, singing and chanting. All very special and spectacular to see.
The people are incredibly nice. It seems to me that everyone is smiling. They have the most beautiful, genuine smiles too. Children, adults, old people all smiling. The main industry beside tourism has been seaweed farming on the coasts and rice farming inland. Incredible to watch them work so hard and carry so much weight on their heads and smile all the while.
So, they are very hip to the tourist dollar here. In the built up areas it is a little like a huge china town? Kinda like NYC? Meaning Asians everywhere but in western clothes and speaking broken English etc... Street vendors everywhere, fake brand names for sale everywhere. Also legitimate Brands and shopping and tons of tourists and again chaos. Endless calls for "Mister, Mister .... you want transport?" "Massage, Mister you want massage?"
I have taken advantage of some of the massage offers and it is unbelievable. I did get a 1 Hour - Full Body Massage for $6/US. I had a 1 Hour - Foot Massage for $5/US. This could become a daily habit while in Indonesia.
If you can get over the strange odors and the abundance of trash it is a beautiful place too. I am currently in a pretty congested area called Seminyak. I'm chilling here for a few more days before I venture out around the island to the east and north and center. I am also planning on going to Lombok (the next closest Indonesian Island) to the Gili's - a small chain of islands off the north - western coast of Lombok. I spent 3 days this week in Nusa Lembongan - a small island about a 30 minute speed boat ride to the east of southern Bali. Very cool. I did some scuba diving and chilled with some locals and some international travelers.
In the more remote places it gets more authentic. Also more difficult to communicate and things like eating, sleeping and going to the toilet all become an adventure. I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Peace and love to all,