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 BALI AND AROUND - INDONESIA                                                                         

Sept 20-October 13/06

Bali has an area of 5650 sq. kms. consisting of a string of mountains, plains of rice fields and tropical bamboo forests. About 95% of Bali's million people practice a form of Hinduism, blended with BuddhisBali has an area of 5650 sq. kms. consisting of a string of mountains, plains of rice fields and tropical bamboo forests. About 95% of Bali's million people practice a form of Hinduism, blended with Buddhism, animism and ancestor worship. Most Balinese people are rice farmers. Other important crops include coconut, vanilla, cloves, coffee, maize and a variety of fruits.

The Bali bombing has been devastating to the Balinese, whose economy also depends greatly on tourism. We talked to many locals whose lives have been changed significantly, mainly with retail businesses who had to return to the rice fields. It cost the government millions of dollars for the cleanup and we heard accounts of numerous people here who could not afford proper medical care from injuries received in the bombings. I read a Bali newspaper that revealed the alarming statistics that there is 5 hangings a week in Bali, a result of the economic strife. The people of Bali are wonderful, friendly, gentle, giving people and certainly did not deserve for that to happen to them, and through no fault of their own.

September 20 -  We arrived at the entrance to the anchorage at Serangan Island where SeaBali had set up headquarters. We anchored amidst the other Rally boats who had all arrived long before us. Ashore we took care of formalities, checking in, sending away our passports for Visa renewal, signing up for tours, etc.
That evening we were invited for Dinner and a party on Siloloma, a 100 foot replica of a traditional Indonesian fishing boat. The crew provided personal transport from the yachts to Siloloma. The boat is used for corporate charter and has 5 star accommodations with immaculate cabins decorated to the nines. We were presented with a lavish spread of Balinese foods that included an endless assortment of dishes. Two bands played, one a traditional Hindu group, and also a modern rock band. We danced and had a marvellous time.

Bali Marina

September 21

We left early with GWTW to move our boats to Bali Marina, in Benoa Harbour, where we met up with Stardust. The marina was pretty basic but provided a dock that made doing boat repairs easier and accommodated our plan to travel around Bali a bit.

Ascension at the marina dock

The Marina had a restaurant which was a great meeting place over drinks and dinner.

The dock was often busy with line ups of tourists waiting to board the various day and dinner cruise boats. Daily offerings also replenished everywhere, including the Marina.

Tabanan Regency, Bali

Once settled in at the dock we caught a taxi back to the anchorage in time to board a bus for a full day free excursion put on by SeaBali. Our journey took us through farmlands of rice fields and to several temples including one boasting the very best sunsets....more

 Kuta Beach

September 22  Kuta  is the center of mainstream tourism in Bali and the area where the two 2002 bombings caused such long term damage to the tourist industry of Indonesia.

We joined Stardust for lunch at a modern restaurant on the Kuta commercial strip, and then Gord and I wandered the colorful streets, alleys and lanes, bargaining with the challenging venders over shirts, shorts and souvenirs.

We managed to return to the marina with many items of much needed replacement clothing for us both and we still had some money left over!


Everywhere you had to be careful not to step on the small offerings placed each day on the sidewalks, roads, doorways, and in the shops to placate bad spirits and pay homage to the good ones. The offerings included food, rice, flowers and other offerings in decorated baskets with burning incense.


Enormous elaborately carved statues are everywhere, always in the center of the many traffic circles around the island. They are monuments to respect the Bali ancestors who had lost their lives during the struggling time against the Dutch colonialists   Every doorway has a statue guarding it, usually draped with the traditional black and white checkered sarong. This is again the good vs evil so that only the good spirits may enter.

Cremations, Blessing the Boats and other Rituals

No opportunity is missed to worship God in unending series of ceremonies extending from birth to death, and far beyond. Festivals are important features in Balinese life. We saw numerous parades of people celebration Cremations or delivering ashes to the ocean.

Most of these ceremonies occur on fixed dates, some are anniversary celebrations of temples and others seem a little far fetched, like the day set aside to celebrate vehicles, motor bikes, bemos and even boats.
On this day, all the passing vehicles were decorated and a ceremony to "Bless the Boats" was carried out at the marina.

Galungan is  the most important holiday symbolizing the victory of virtue (dharma) over evil (adharma). We saw numerous tall bamboo poles, placed on the right side of the entrances to houses, each decorated with woven coconut leaves, fruit, cakes, flowers and other gifts of nature.

Another important day is the Hindu Balinese "Saka New Year," a day of total silence through the island...no physical activity is allowed, no traffic on the roads, no fire may be lit, no amusements, no work. The Muslim people respect this day in support of the Hindu beliefs.

  Bangli Tour

Sept 23 

We took advantage of another free excursion put on by SeaBali that focused on the Bagli Recency, the leading producer of horticultural goods such as oranges, coffee beans and beef. Our tour included the holy spring water temple of Tampak Siring Dan, Mount and Lake Batur, a Barong Dance, Handicraft Demonstrations, a visit to the homes in Penglipuran Village, and a trip to Kehen Temple. ...more

 

Klunklung Tour

Sept 26

After a taxi ride from the marina to Serangan Island, we boarded one of the four buses and headed out of town behind our police escort bound for the regency of Klungklung. Klungklung is considered to be the icon in spiritualism with an abundance of local artisans who produce quality handicrafts.....more

Sept 27

Gord spent the entire day trying to fix the windlass, traveling all over Bali to find the right cable required to rewire the full length of the boat. It took much effort to run the cable under the water tank, through every locker and bulkhead, under the floor and reconnect the wire to the breaker at the stern of the boat.

We took a break and joined Stardust, Tactical and GWTW for supper some 40 minutes Bemo ride into the hills. The restaurant turned out to be in the center of a museum overlooking Bali. The view was fantastic but it was too dark to see the grounds.

Sept 28

Another day fixing the windlass. After the rewiring operation was completed, the windlass motor would just overheat and trip the breaker. It took all day just to remove the motor to have it checked out.

A highlight of staying in the marina was the ability to hire Harry, a local boy who cleaned your stainless and polished your entire boat for $10/day. Most of the boats took advantage of this, GWTW using his services for 11 of the 13 days they were here! He worked non-stop form early morning until supper, even during Ramadan, when he refused any offers of food or water all day!

Fire Dance. That evening we went to the small 10th century temple at Uluwatu and the Kecak (Monkey) and Fire Dance. The performance was a combination of ancient ritual, dance, and drama with the sunset cliff setting.
...more

Touring the Island of Bali

Oct 2-3

We organized a 2 day tour with Agus, a local guide that often takes yachties sightseeing. Because of the boat repairs, we were unable to share the car so there was just the two of us. We left the marina at 7:30 am, our plan to circumnavigate the island, spending a night at Lovina Beach.

Craftsmen of Ubud

Our first stop was in Ubud, where there is an abundance of craftsmen and artisans depicting the Balinese culture.

Wood Carvers, previously concerned on making statues for temples and decorating instruments, door ways and masks, are now making non-functional objects purely for tourist consumption. This has had an effect on the quality in some cases but it has also meant a renaissance in the art of carving. We visited one gallery that had top quality superior pieces, many created specifically for ceremonies, others for export.

It has taken a year so far to work on the carving pictured above. There are many woodcarvers with extraordinary talent. The women sand and polish the pieces, and the finished product is superb.

AA whole community was devoted to wood carving with various roadside galleries lining the street. One interesting shop was chock full of rocking horses, various sizes and colors. There were even some rocking zebras. The price started at 1,000,000 rupiah (about $125.00). Many were in the process of being made and a row of little horses waiting to be painted looked like a cavalcade for a parade!

Silver and Goldsmiths
In another area we watched silver being meticulously pounded and formed into intricate jewelry. A woman was gluing thousands of minute silver balls one at a time onto an earring. I was so impressed that I bought a pair of these traditional Bali earrings from their gallery.

 

We visited unique furniture shops of exquisite hand made teak items

We left Ubud and entered the lush rolling hills covered with terraced rice paddies

At the top of the mountainous countryside we had a buffet lunch overlooking the splendor, every shade of green imaginable

Terraced Rice Patties

Rice is the staple for the Indonesian diet and many varieties are grown. In most areas the rice patties require careful water management and often the crops can only be grown in the wet season. The rice takes 3 months to mature so there are usually several crops planted each year. Cows still work the paddies as it is too difficult to get machinery into the muddy fields.

The Water Palace

The Water Palace consisted of beautiful gardens full of lotus ponds, statues, water spouts depicting animals, monuments and flowers.



The fields are patterned with little shelters for the cows that work the fields. The cows are sacred and very well cared for. Pictured right are "haystacks" of corn husks left in the trees to dry. The hay is added to salt water to make it palatable for the cow.

I did some hard bargaining for a new bag, patience & assertiveness is needed to get a deal.

Hundreds of workers picking peanuts.

Gitgit Falls

We walked down a series of steps to a small temple and the sacred Gitgit Falls tumbling from high above.

Lovina Beach

Lovina Beach, on the north Bali coast with black beaches and a small friendly environment, was another tourist destination . But again, as a result of the bombing, there were empty hotels and very few visitors.

We arrived at our hotel, pleasantly surprised at our accommodation which was $25/night. Although not quite 5 star, it was charming, clean and the food was excellent.

The gardens around the hotel and pool were very beautiful

Monkey Do

The following morning, after walking down the beach and through the streets of Lovina, we headed west toward the Bali Barat National Park.  Monkeys hung out along the road, Agus slowed right down to 15 km/hr because monkeys (and cats) are sacred and to hit one would bring very bad luck to the family! We stopped briefly as I had some peanuts. But the peanuts were really salty and we had to laugh as the monkey took the first peanut out of his mouth and rubbed it between his fingers to remove the salt. He cleaned each subsequent peanut so it was fit for his palate.

The north western part of Bali is very arid during the dry season which it was when we were traveling through. The land was parched and nothing grew. The threat of fires was huge and there was no water to put out fires. However, when the rain comes, there is a major flooding problem as rivers overflow their banks.

No Rules

As we drove the narrow roads, passing vehicles with no particular rules of the road, just a beep of the horn, we wondered how anyone driving a motor bike could survive. They weave in and out of heavy traffic coming within inches of each other. And the stuff they manage to pack is incredible. Some bikes have mobile stores built right on the back. Pictured right is a smiley man with a very big load.

 
We passed by several Cremations, the streets crammed with all the friends and family of the deceased carrying offerings. They were all smiling and waving  not offended by my picture taking. There was a mobile gamelan band accompanying the procession on its customary way to deposit the ashes in the ocean
Another procession, we were told, was a parade carrying the body in an elaborately decorated casket to the cemetery. It costs much money for a cremation and not all families can afford one. The belief is that the deceased will not have a good next life and the family will suffer if the proper cremation ritual is not performed so often the cremations are carried out later on, after the family has raised enough money, sometimes jointly with other departed persons.
We drove along the western coastline of Bali, the surf pounding on the rocky shoreline. Our lunch stop was high above the cliffs, with a view of the rice patties and the huge frothing chaotic breakers below.

Agus told us many stories and details about the corruption of the Government in Bali, the Police force on the take, and Government appropriating funds from the citizens. It did seem that the most lavish buildings were those decorating the wealthy government grounds. (right)

Our travels took us past all sorts of depictive architecture symbolic of Bali. To the left is an multifarious archway carved form cement. Ornate monuments and statues stood on the government grounds near Negara.

 
We ended our tour with a trip to Senur, where we walked the streets, shopped, found an internet and ate pizza for supper. We returned to the boat and joined Gone with the Wind and Stardust for a nightcap.

Oct 4

I made a trip to Sanur to finish uploading my web pages and pick up groceries for provisions to Singapore. In the tourist center of Sanur, as at  Kuta beach there are dozens of women wandering the beach offering manicures, pedicures, massages, braids, clothes, whatever. There is an endless string of shops selling clothing and souvenirs. Internet was painfully slow and, to add injury to insult, the server went down all over town.

Oct 5

After bidding farewell to GWTW the morning before as they set sail to assist Stardust, 2 days away, with their faulty engine, we finally were ready to catch up. But as we turned on our instruments it became evident that the auto pilot was not working. So the entire day was spent trying to locate the source of the problem.

Oct 6

We finally admitted defeat to fixing the autopilot, reckoning it was the course computer that had packed it in. After locating a dealer in Singapore, and numerous emails later, we set out to transfer money for a new system (they didn’t take credit card payments) and complete necessary paperwork. But this proved to be a long drawn out operation.

Since there is normally a 30% duty charged on boat parts brought into Indonesia, we paid a visit to Customs to clear into Bali, which gave us the paperwork that might help us negotiate the charges.

Then we walked to a bank that offered Western Union services but we could not pay (in rupiah) using cash from our Credit card. ATM’s have a 1,500,000 limit on withdrawals and we needed 19,000,000!!  So we took a taxi into Kuta to another bank. After waiting in a long line-up we were informed the bank did not accept Mastercard (only Visa), so off we went to another bank. We again took a number and after another lengthy wait, with the taxi meter running, we were informed  that the most we could withdraw on our credit card was 10,000,000 per day. So we withdrew our limit and set off to find another bank. 7 banks later, we finally were ready with enough cash to take to Western Union. With some difficulty we found a Western Union in the area, but the man who could do the transactions was at lunch. Again, off we went on another search.

Finally, after an enormous amount flashing on the taxi meter, we completed our money transfer 10 banks and 6 hours later! We returned to the marina exhausted and ready for the breakfast we had missed.

Oct 7

We were informed that after everything we had gone through the day before, our contact in Singapore had given us the wrong name. He signed his emails and went by the name of Thomas Beck but his real name and identification was Beck Song Chung so he couldn't collect the money we sent. Of course it was Saturday and all the Western Union offices were closed. We would have to wait until Monday to try and rectify the problem. We were now the only ones left in Bali from the rally and our Visa was running out fast.

Mid morn, Liam and Annie showed up at the marina with Bob. Gone with the Wind had sailed 2 days to rescue Bob on Stardust, sail him back to Bali, rent a car to drive back to Dempassar so Bob could get his muffler welded. It is truly commendable how fellow yachties will step forth to help out. It's a wonderful feeling to know you have such true friends out here!

We accompanied the group to town, stopping at Kuta to be sure Western Union was in fact closed. Bob picked up his muffler good as new and before long we said goodbye to our friends once again. They promised that they would wait for us and we could at least travel together from Borneo to Singapore (the most dangerous waters in Indonesia).

Oct 10

We finally got the money sorted and the part had arrived at the airport. We had already made several trips to customs and were told that the part would be duty free as long as we checked into Bali and had the necessary paper work accompany the package, which we did.

However, after numerous phone calls to DHL and another trip to customs, the shipper insisted that we pay duty before the parcel was released. In desperation we finally went to the airport and ended up camping in the DHL office for a number of hours, talking to every manager and official we could. Another trip to customs finally reinforced  that duty was not payable. However, it seemed that we would now need to hire an agent to reverse the paperwork. And, no surprise, the fee would be the same as the duty they wanted to charge - $450,000 rupiah, but it would take several more days to process.

So we relented, paid the duty and left with our new auto-helm, none the wiser for trying to get around paying the duty on a part that was leaving the country within the next few days.

October 11

The next couple of days were spent installing the auto-helm, which of course did not fit in our boat! Gord had to build a shelf and a bracket but finally made it all work.

We were finally ready to leave and catch up with our friends./font>/span>

We untied the dock lines at 5:30 am and waved farewell to Bali.

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