Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day 11: Everywhere, Bali

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Saying goodbye to the Bali beaches
-More Bali temples
-Kecak fire dance

Robbie here, and this is our LAST day. Kind of unbelievable that it's over already. Today we had to leave our paradise that is Nusa Lembongan. We enjoyed one more sunrise on our own little stretch of beach thanks to our hog--and as you can see it was another beaut.

We took the ferry to a village of the main island named Padang Bai. Here's our captain:

-Ok, not our real captain, but the first mate. 

So Padang Bai is a small fishing and harbor town with beautiful beaches. We had an hour to kill before we hired our driver, so we took a dip. 

-No, that's not a filter, we (mostly me) are still white. 

Lining the main road right off the harbor were over 20 drivers for hire. We felt like famous superstars, you guys. Everyone wanted to be our driver. After soaking up that ego-boost, we chose our driver and we were off. 

Our first stop was to the location of Batman's origin story--bat temple. What is bat temple, you ask? Well feast your eyes on this:

-Yup every square inch of the roof of that cave is plastered in bats

The mouth of this cave let sunlight in, so it was cool to see all the bats crammed together trying to get some sleep in during the day. After peacing out there, we went to an awesome (but kind of pricy) place for our last Balinese meal, Lereng Agung. This place not only was a Balinese buffet, but had the most incredible table-side view.

Unreal food and amazing view. Because it's cloudy you can't tell, but Bali's biggest mountain/volcano is straight ahead. Couldn't ask for more for our last meal in Bali. After rolling out of the buffet we made it to Pura Besakih, Bali's first and most important Hindu temple. It was pretty amazing. 

-The entrance to the main courtyard of the temple

This temple was huge. There were at least 30 buildings/towers in around 7 different courtyards, some of which we couldn't go in because we were not local Hindus. 

Here's the bummer about Pura Besakih--it's such a famous and beautiful temple that it has become a huge tourist spot. That by itself isn't a bad thing, but there were a ton of people trying to make a profit off of this spiritual place. We were swarmed by people trying to sell us trinkets, offerings, and souvenirs. Also, everyone gets pressured into hiring a local guide/guardian even though the ticket should get you into most places in the temple. So, trying to ignore all of that noise and bustle, we did our best to soak it all in. Still, a beautiful place that we will never forget.

Our last activity was to see the Kecak fire dance. This performance blew our minds. It's a dance/chant show that tells the story of the Ramayana. If you ever saw A Little Princess (looking at you Linds), that's a really basic version of the story. For those who haven't, it's an ancient Hindu legend where the guy, Rama, rescues his wife, Sita, from an evil demon who kidnapped her. There are white monkey kings, dragons, golden deer and other awesome characters.  It's a cool story. Two of the coolest parts of this show were one, the music/chanting provided by 50 men sitting in a circle around the stage, and two, the actual Fire dance at the end of the performance. 

This show was over an hour long, and these 50 dudes chanted and sang the entire time! This isn't wussy and soft music. We are talking primal, percussion-like rhythm, booms, and singing. It was so cool to watch. These photos won't do it justice. 

-These chanting dudes would get in different formations, too. So they weren't just chillin. 

Then came the fire dance. First a dude with around 100 coconut husks comes in and drops them in a mound right in the middle of the stage, lights a match and boom, instant bonfire. Then, in walks a twitchy dude that looks like he could snap at any minute and starts dancing in the coconut fire! Not only would he dance barefoot, he would sometimes just sit in the fire (quickly) or EAT the burning coconut and spit it out like fireballs around the stage. What?!? This dude is crazy. But hey, we get to watch his entertaining crazy. We couldn't believe it. Also, we got horrible photos because we were too enthralled to be bothered by the camera. So these will have to do. 

-Us with the fire dancer over the remaining embers. Even this photo made our feet burn.

-And us with the main cast of the Ramayana

Well that wraps it up! I hate to type those words because that means our Bali trip is  ending. We had an amazing time. We got to see and experience so much in this beautiful country, and with the most kind and giving people. 

Whenever we travel we try to experience the culture and emulate the good that we see there. Being more kind and connecting with nature more often are our big take aways from Bali. 

Unforgettable experience.