26th March 2012 - Monday 16th April 2012
07.04.2012 - 16.04.2012 30 °C
Our first stop on the cycling part of the tour was a visit to a traditional Balinese village house, which was own by one of the local families that the tour company sponsers... evidentally the tour company works closely with the local villages and sponsers several families, so it's nice to know our money was going somewhere worth while!
We were told that each 'front door' consists of a narrow archway which is meant to deflect access from evil spirits. The streets are not named in village areas but a sensus was carried out meaning that each doorway is marked by the part of the country they live in, the name of the man (head of the household) and number of people in his family... where there is more than one family living in the same house, both men's names appear on the sign.
Inside we found cockrels kept in wicker baskets and were told that these were for cock fighting (as mentioned earlier), apparently this is a traditional that is carried out officially in temples as part of a religious tradition, but is also common in underground gambling... it also explains why there are so many annoying cockrels in Bali! According to Froggie, the cockrels are kept in small basket cages in the sunlight to aggitate them as well as having their crowns cut off and fed to them to make them cannibles and thus 'strong' :-S
The layout of the home consists of various open rooms, which are raised according to the heirachy of the family... grandparents/elders bedrooms are the highest and outside of this room lies a rock which is known as the 'placenta stone', as every time there is a birth in the family, the placenta is brought back to the home and buried under the rocks... left side for boys, right for girls... then if the baby cried in the night or is upset offerings are placed on the rocks to calm the child! This way the families are very closely linked, with the placenta of brothers and sisters of all generations kept together.
We also learnt that each family has it's own temple and ancestoral shrine where they keep the ashes of loved ones who have passed away. It is the job of the youngest boy to tend the family temple and shrine. There are a lot of temples in Bali, as each village has three, one for Brahma (the creator) at the start of the village, one for Vishnu (the protector) in the centre, and one for Shiva (the destroyer) at the end, where the village cremations take place, as well as all the family temples in individual homes.
Next we cycled through the village and the paddy fields that surround it, taking in the beautiful scenery before we stopped at a harvesting feild to help the local workers with the rice. These were mainly older man and women who could no longer work in good jobs in the cities... Froggie told us that once a young man is married, he moves back to the family home with his new wife and regains his place in the tradition of the community. These farm workers were easily in their 60's and lifting 40kg bags of rice onto their heads, and working hard labour from sunrise to sunset!
We then cycled to the "Rasta tree", a holy tree (symbolised by the white cloth that wraps it) which is over 400 years old! Here we found cute local children waving to us as we passed, shouting "hello" and playing football... they didnt seem to like having their photo taken though!
After the rasta tree it was lunch time and we were treated to another buffet banquet of delicious Tempe, Mie Goreng and Chicken Satay with Balinese veg! NOM NOM!
A FANTASTIC day and one of my favourites on my travels so far! (^_^) x
When we arrived in Ubud, Yas and Cat had told us quickly about an AMAZING spa day that they had at Bumi Bali, a hotel and spa just up the road from our bungalows where you could have a full body massage, facial, hair treatment and scalp massage, manicure and pedicure, all for only 20 quid! Needless to say we were sold and booked it for Sunday 8th April (Easter Sunday) after what we thought would be a difficult day of hard cycling... :-P
We had a nice morning in the sunshine before meeting at the spa at 1pm for our 5 hour treatment pakage... firstly our feet were washed and we were taken for our massage, where the masseuse actually got up on the bed next to me, kneeling over my back to apply amazing pressure and then used scented oils to massage, stretch, beat and bend my body into relaxed oblivion... She literally massaged from the tip of my toes to the top of my head and by the time the hour was up I felt like a well tenderized joint of beef! HEAVEN!
And that was just the beginning, next was the hair treatment, where they first washed your hair with shampoo, massaging your scalp before brushing refridgerated conditioner through it, which reminded me of being little when mum used to wash my hair... they were so gentle that I nearly fell asleep, and then they gave me another head massage and neck massage before putting a steamer onto my hair while the conditioner sunk in. They then rinsed and dried my hair, adding hair oils as they did, so that it was silky smooth!
Next was the facial, cleansed, toner, moisturiser, eyebrow plucking!! and a peel mask that left my skin clear and glowing. Finally, the manicure and pedicure, of which I am officially a convert! It was my first pedicure ever as I didnt think I would like people playing with my feet, but it felt amazing and they were SOOO clean when they'd finished that I am going to HAVE to purchase a pedicure kit when I'm home and start taking proper care of my feet! I decided against nail varnish as it would only chip and the sunlight has made my nails look very healthy recently...
Bali Marine and Safari Park
One of my friends at work had told me that she went to Bali zoo and got to hold a baby orangutan, and thus this was instantly a MUST for both me and Emily! The park in general was pretty average... I was glad that the animals were not kept in enclousures, but were allowed a large space to roam freely within the compound, however, the weird "animal show" which consisted of cats and guinae pigs!!?? and the rushed 15 min "safari" made it a little over priced! Never the less, we DID get to have a proper cuddle with the 'rang tang' and some great photos so it was 100% worth it!
We also got to see Siberian White Tigers which I think are my FAVOURITE animal ever! So that made it great for me too... unfortunately we werent allowed to get that close to them, and could only see them through glass windows so the photos arent great... but they were GORGEOUS and SOOO big!!
For the next few days we chilled out by the pool, catching some rays as we knew this would be our last opportunity to sunbathe for a while, and my tan is fading FAST! In the afternoon, we went to the local market and found a great ice cream shop which sold Ferraro Roche Ice Cream! YUM! and I bought mum a present from Bali and myself a pretty ring!
We then travelled back down to Kuta to get our flights, me to Jakarta and Emily to Thailand...
Friday 13th April - Monday 16th April 2012
I arrived in Jakarta in the early afternoon and was shocked by how different it was to Bali... it's a very big city with a lot of traffic and people, but I managed to get myself on the bus to the central Gambir Station and a tuk tuk ride of doom to my hostel (Six Degrees).
The tuk tuk was easily about 80 years old and the driver wasn't much younger! He smoked the whole way and nearly crashed about 5 times! There is a very clear heirachy of traffic in Indonesia and I didn't fancy tuk tuk's chances against Bus or Taxi, but apparently the driver likes to live dangerously!! SOOO glad I made it to the hostel alive!
Six degrees was a GREAT hostel, with a big cinema area and a massive selection of DVDs, plus it was run by two English men and their Balinese wives, and so they had proper bread for their toast/sandwiches and a continuous supply of tea with real mugs!! YES!!
It was here that I met Alister, an Italian who was LOVELY and we hung out for a few days after my airport error with the Singapore flight! On Sunday we went for a wonder around the city and ended up in a HUGE shopping mall, with designer shops and a cheesecake boutique, where we were treated like celebrities and given complimentary lattes, just for being western! Bizzare! (But Delicious!) x
I've really enjoyed Bali and think I would definitely come back to explore Indonesia some more! The cycling tour was a real highlight, as was the Gili Isles, and of course, my orangutan cuddle! :-D x
Next stop Singapore... xx