Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bali for the weekend

Well, I said I would do this, and last weekend I did. I went to Bali, for the weekend. We left on Saturday morning, very early. Getting to the airport in Jakarta is part of the sport of living here. You calculate 45 minutes - two hours for that trip, depending on traffic. This time it took us only 45 minutes.
When we got off the plane the first thing that I noticed was the big blue sky and the clean air. It's amazing how I not notice the smog and the bad air here in Jakarta but when it's not there, it's so much better.

Lunch on the beach in Bali
View of lunch at the beach in Bali
First, we had lunch on the beach. It was lovely to walk down to the water and play a game of catch with the waves. Since we did not have towels or swimsuits out, we could only get our feet wet.

We ordered a 'set price' lunch that was supposed to have six different kinds of seafood, vegetables, and fresh fruit. What we got was three different kinds of seafood, sea spinach, and red watermelon onna shtick. Although we liked the food that was there, we were disappointed about the fact that we were not informed of the lack of variety until after they had put the lobster on the grill as we probably would have left had they told us before. It was still fun to have lunch on the beach.

After lunch, we drove toward the hotel. We had asked the driver to select several stops along the way so we could shop and enjoy the cultural aspects of Bali. Our first sight was that of a toll booth. My first impression was that it was decorated with Chinese dragons, but that was not the case and it really was a toll booth where they took your money. After we crossed through the toll booth we passed across the cause way and then started up into the hills. 

We visited a silver factory that we were able to tour. You could see how the workers were working with the precious metal and the stones. Bali is famous for it's silver work and the pieces available at this factory were really very nice. I wanted to buy some, but didn't want to pay the inflated touristy prices. At the gate to the silver factory there was a playful statue of several pigs chasing each other's tails.

Along the road we passed many narrow roads that would open into a complete neighborhood. Bali is largely Hindu and you could see the shrines sticking up over the fences. Some of them were very elaborate and quite beautiful.

We also stopped at a batik factory, but the prices were too high for the pieces that they had. I liked some of the batik paintings, but even those were priced very 'touristy'. I purchased a scarf because I liked the color, but I've had it hanging for a few days now and I can't get the chemical smell out of it. Although I feel like the small businesses should be supported, I didn't want to pay a premium price for their wares and I think that my experience with the scarf supports that. Later on, I bought a beautiful scarf in Ubud from a cooperative, Threads of Life, that deals exclusively with the weavers. Although the price of that scarf was not cheap either, the workmanship is superb and it's going to be a favorite piece for many years, I think. If you're in Ubud, please check out their location and support this organization.

My hotel room looked like a honeymoon suite, with the towels folded like swans. We stayed at the Sri Ratih Cottages and even though my room did not have a soaking tub for two, it was nice. I would recommend this place, if you can get it for a reasonable price. We booked through Traditional for Bali, the bathroom did not have a roof. I never heard anybody else use theirs, but it was kind of weird to be in the open air while in the shower. 

My lunch placemat.
Bali has beautiful carved wood. In fact, we visited a carving factory where my travel companions both purchased a beautiful carved statue. I found one that I liked, but it was six feet tall and I only had a carry-on backpack with me, so that would not have fit. I did not purchase it. I found similar statues on eBay for similar prices, so they didn't charge us 'tourist prices' and if you buy directly from the carver you know where the money goes. I like that idea.
Rice paddies and views, oh ,my....             The country side of Bali is stunning and the pictures I made from the moving car did not do it any justice. Rice paddies are really, really, cool. They really do look like in the pictures. 

I took the final picture in Jakarta as we drove back to the apartment. Apparently there should be mountains visible in the picture and during the rainy season you can see them. Alas, the smog obscured the view that day.

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