Again we boarded a ferry to head to another island…Bali! And to be honest, the ferry system has really impressed us. Yes, it’s not luxury but the crew is used to bikes, they’re pretty nice and help out with securing the bike. And the ferry’s have air con seating or nice seating outside although it’s plastic chairs. There’s food available as well as drink although the prices are hiked up a bit, its all good. When we got off the ferry, the police wanted to check our panniers but as soon as I got off the bike to unlock and do the whole thing, they felt bad I think and let us slide. Five minutes into the drive we found ourselves at the horrific scene of an accident. The scooter was demolished, I saw a white helmet upturned and not too far off was the body of the man under a pile of leaves the police had scattered on him. Weird thing was, they did not bother to cover the man’s face which poked out of the leaves bloody and distorted. Nick and I immediately prayed. It had been a long time since we’d seen something like that…Thailand had to be the last time. Later we had amazing views of red brick temples and houses along the sea as well as beautiful rice paddies right by the water.
Riding through Denpasar and to Seminyak where Mahima and Karan were staying was like torture for me. There were so many beautiful shops with jewelry, dresses, shoes, house décor, fabrics….ughhhhhhhhhhhhh! Torture! Naturally, it was tough to find a place to stay that was within our budget but we were able to find a small guesthouse off the main road. It was pretty large and clean, fan only though…and it was hot and humid! No worries, we were excited to meet friends and talk to other people. Because let’s face it, sometimes you need some company to mix it up. Despite his excitement, Nick crashed like a baby on the bed! This gave me ample time to get ready as it had been ages since I had applied make-up or looked normal really. We met up at the place where the honeymooners were staying and had a great time having some Bintang and instant noodles together! Luckily we were also able to meet the next day for a late lunch and then dinner. It was really great to meet Karna and Mahima inBali, and they were so nice to meet up with us especially on their honeymoon!
The next day we left for Ubud. The honeymooners had told us so much about the place and all the amazing artwork and crafts. Ubud did not disappoint. Along the way we rode past workshop after workshop where artists and craftsmen were working on pieces and selling their art. Once we got to Ubud, it was a little tough at first to find a place to stay but we eventually settled on a homestay on a quiet side street. The homestay was a traditional Balinese house with courtyard, a common area for the family to prepare for their temple ceremonies, a few rooms and cottages, the family’s kitchen and then their own temple compound. SoBaliis fervently Hindu—a real change from the other islands. The ceremonies seem different from what you see in India—but it’s absolutely beautiful! We had this cottage in the middle of the courtyard that was owned by the uncle…the whole homestay is basically made up of the entire family and extended family as well. The Balinese are really into their ceremonies and can definitely rivalIndiain that department. Every morning the ladies and men of the house dress up in traditional costume which for ladies is made up of a beautiful printed dhoti/loongi, along with a lacy jacket and a colourful, contrasting sash around the waist with full make up and hair neatly done in a bun. The men wear simple cotton shirts also with a printed dhoti and sash. They also have a sash or headpiece on. They make their rounds with incense and placing a small piece of banana leaf with rice and flower petals in front of their houses. Actually it’s not just in the morning, all day long you see ladies and men going to the temples, carrying beautiful boxes of offerings etc to the temple. But ladies selections of prints and colors and their sense of matching and contrasting reminds me of Indian women. We ended up spending about 4 nights in Ubud just taking walks, visiting the old temples hidden in the wet jungles, and window shopping (because I can’t fit much into my pannier). Every night there was a procession of devotees in their religious costume (if you go to the temples, you have to wear it to go in), playing instruments, carrying blessings, and carrying traditional umbrellas and other items.
I think when it comes to Bali a lot of people have this image of crazy drunk people and prostitutes in Kuta. But to be honest, Kuta is a small area, the rest of Bali is nothing like that. From Ubud we took the bike out to Lake Batur and rode around blue-hydrangea covered hills above the clouds to Lovina. The Lovina area is a quiet beachy area but we really preferred the beaches of Amed. Amed is on the eastern coast of Bali where you can see Gunung Agung (Bali’s holiest volcano) slope down into the blue ocean. The beach is rocky and has black sand but it’s great for diving! There’s also a couple of shipwrecks off the coast that you can snorkel and dive, as well as peaceful guesthouses with amazing views! Afterwards we rode by Amlapura and had some beautiful views of the ocean, ancient rice paddies, old gardens and baths. We got sucked into a Hare Krishna procession which wasn’t too bad. I had a European dude trying to explain to me what Prasad was but besides that everyone was really nice and inviting. I went in to take some pics and people were very welcoming! It was a happy, festival atmosphere all around the temple and inside. We had to sneak out because the procession seemed like it was going to run pretty late and it was getting close to dark. We ended up going back to Ubud and later got a chance to ride around the lava fields of Gunung Batur, followed by an amazing (pricey for us!) buffet lunch of awesome Balinese food, and then a visit to Pura Besakih (the holiest temple for Balinese). Finally we popped back down again to Nusa Dua to visit our friend Chenthil who was in Bali for work. Before seeing him we got in a visit to Ulu Watu, which is a beautiful temple on the cliffs and full of naughty monkeys. In the evening we were able to meet up with Chenthil and catch up over some Bintangs. It’s great to see friends outside of India or the US, everyone we’ve seen so far is a part of our tour now!