Friday, February 5, 2016

Monkey Forests and Rice Padis

If you’e never seen a monkey, Bali is the place to go to see them close up and personal! To get from our hotel to the plethora of shops in Ubud, the shortest way is through the Monkey Forest!







Dana picked us up bright and early the next moring and we were off to see a new Monkey Forest. One we had never seen before. On our way we drove past gorgeous rice fields that are so green it hurts your eyes!




That little hut in the middle there is a resting place for the workers. Working for hours in that extremely hot, humid air is exhausting!



We also saw lots of these along our way. There are 2 million scooters in Bali that has a poplulation of 4 million. That’s a lot of scooters!  These “gas stations” were everywhere! A little bottle of petrol will get you a long way in Bali!


Here we are at the real Monkey Forest. Full of mysitcal smoke and a eerie sense of magic!


That monkey would definately scare off any evil spirits! The black and white aprons we see all over Bali represent the dark and the light/the good and the evil.



These split gates at temples that you see everywhere in Bali are calls to “split your troubles” and leave them behind as you enter. We did!  (love the sign on the left!)





These friendly fellows would jump on you without a moment’s notice! Soft fur and very friendly. Sometimes a bit too friendly!



This girl hardly noticed that she had a monkey on her back!


They were just getting ready for a ceremony that only happens once every seven months (something to do with the moon) so we couldn’t enter here. Look like a fairy taile right?


Lots of monkeys who escorted us right to the gate:


Love this guy!


On the way up the mountian we saw a bridal party stopping at a “7-11”  (JK)  Beautiful!


And we saw a young mother and a grandmother leaving some sort of celebration, taking their offerings home to feed their families! Look at that cute mother with quite a load on top and to the side. !


And at the top of the mountain we saw this: the volcamo and the lake in the crater! Spectacular!



Heading for home, we stopped at the new Ritz Carelton, just completed a few months ago. The views were incredible and the unique architcture was amazing! It seemed to be literally hanging on the mountainside.






The view from our lunch spot was stunning! It rained like Niagra Falls for about 10 minutes while we were sitting there. Tropical wonderland. Many river rafts floated down the reiver as we ate, like the one below!  



And the food was even better! Here’s my pumpkin chicken salad and Rick’s mie goring (egg stretched over delicious fried noddles with vegetables).



Another day to remember in paradise!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Back to Bali and A Balinese Wedding

Ah Bali! Going back is like going home! We love the people, their belief in the mystical and the maginal and especially their unique sense of community.

We have fallen in love with our driver there who picks us up at the airport, takes us to our hotel an hour and half away and shows us the unique culture of Bali like no other!  We met Dana about 12 years ago when we first came to Bali. He was so helpful and kind to show us the wonders of Bali the first time around. The second time he helped us to furnish our new house which is a rock and stucco house on the outside and a Balinese house on the inside. We loved Bali so much that he helped us send a ocean container full of wonderful and now precious furniture and building items to us at home. I’ll try to put some of those fun items on the blog when we get home.

When we were here with all the kids and thier spouses almost two years ago, Dana helped us experience a spectacualr time together full of beauty and wonder! This time, we just couldn’t resist a five-day trip to Bali, since we would already be in Australia. From Melbourne it is a “short” five hour ride in the sky. Then coming back it was just  three hours to Perth where we were giving a couple of speeches the next week.

Dana is on the right below and beside him are our darling friends who run the beautiful hotel (Alam Injah) where we have stayed in Ubud. Looks how happy they look! Their shining faces tell all!


Our wonderful friends, Randall and Tamina Ridd, who were with us on the cruise and at the Australian Open, stayed on and enjoyed the adventure with us which included meeting Dana, one of the kindess, most gentle and deeply spritual people we have ever met!  In addition he knows the Balinese Culture exquisitely!

When he picked us up for our first day’s adventure, he explained that if we ran into a wedding celebration along the way, the family and neighborhood women preparing the celebration would welcome us warmly. The only thing we would need was a sarong. When he saw the decorations below on the side of the road as we passed by, he pronounced it a wedding, stopped the car, and proceeded to get us ready to go in with four sarongs and sashes he had brought for just that purpose in the back of his car so that we could enter the family compound properly!

This entrance was carefully hand-made and meticulously prepared by the women of the village! What love and devotion!


Here’s a closer look. Positively amazing! Every inch is lovingly hand-made.






The people inside welcomed us as as though we were old friends, even though they were busy preparing for the big wedding celebration that was to take place in two hours. Somehow I don’t think I would be as happy to welcome strangers to one of our wedding celebrations as we were frantically putting on the finishing touches for a wedding reception! They were awesome!

Beautifully dressed and even though many of them were still busy with the preparations, they coudn’t have been happier to see us! Here’s a picture of the bride and groom which was at the entrance along with puppets representing the happy couple.



Note the dollar signs on the bag around this happy fellow’s waist. Here people could deposit money for the newlyweds, however most people brought rice and sugar and household items to help them begin their life together. We deposited 200,000 rupiah in that bag on our way out after our fun experience which might have meant a lot to them but was only about $16. That was the best $16 we have spent in a long time. It was positively a delightful experience!


The folloiwing pictures show the elaborate decorations inside the compound. The time it must have take to create these things is incomprehensible! There is symbolism in each item. Some things I know and most I don’t. Just take a look. Twenty two family members live in this compound but most of the people who were there were neighbors who helped the family make it memorable!





The bottom section of this panel below represents the life before life, the middle the beauty of life on earth and the top, the monotony of life after death. Hope that doesn’t work out to be true! The following two pictures are offerings to the to keep out the evil spirits.




Here is a beautiufl angora bunny. A family pet that no one would be allowed to eat under any circumstances because it might be a reincarnated person!



Below is one of the daughters of the family who spoke very good English, along with her son, her daughter and the daughter’s friend.


The grandmother is sitting on the right and was delighted to see herself in the picture!











There are the food preparers and then there are the waiters.” These “waiters” will probably be sitting there for the next two hours. They deserve it since they were probably the ones who have spent the past week making all those beautiful decorations! 


They loved seeing themselves on the phone.



Beautfiul women in beautiful clothes!



It was a delightful experience. As we left we knew that the feeling of love and the sense of community and family togetherness in that compound was an experience that none of us would ever forget! Thier hospitality and kindess was really remarkable. THANK YOU DANA!