Ligaya in Indonesia - Bali.
 

 

Many visitors to Bali do not get beyond the supposed attractions of Kuta Beach, with the all-night discos and seemingly endless streams of drunken Australian surfers. Personally, the allure of Bali for me is in the mountains and the culture of the island,

 

We managed to find a rather precarious berth on a very short dock, in the port of Benoa. Our arrival was rather spoilt by a very avaricious "gentleman", and here I use the word loosely, who claimed to be the harbour master. He insisted we use the services of a supposed agent, who in turn demanded $US 2,800 for our clearance. Bear in mind we had come but 40 miles from the neighbouring island.

Corruption is rampant in Indonesia, but the officials in Benoa harbour are the undisputed champions.

Luckily we made friends with some folk who live here, and they took us for a wonderful trip into the mountains, to see a bit of the real Bali.

We made a short stop at the Saranam Eco Resort, on the road to Bedugul. The place is stunning, with views across their own rice fields to the mountains.

In the town of Bedugul we stopped at a very local market. The fruit and veg was piled high and for the most part arranged very artistically. The stall-holders were very generous in letting us taste many strange fruits that we had never seen before.

Rather to our surprise, there was an Australian-owned bar tucked into the corner of the market. We were amused by the sign offering Deluxe Western Toilets as part of their promotion.

The normal Asian toilets do take a bit of getting used to, with the ubiquitous saucepan to scoop the water instead of a conventional flush.

One of the reasons for visiting the market was to stock up on bananas and peanuts for the next stop.

There is an organised monkey park on Bali, but really you have no need to visit it. We stopped beside the road and within moments, monkeys appeared from thin air.

Here Dessy, Philip and Rosie are laughing because one adventurous monkey had just managed to score a whole hand of bananas from a slightly intimidated Rosie. The local chap who happened to passing stayed to watch the fun.

I do not know how the word got around, but within minutes of us starting to feed the monkeys, there was a steady stream of them running up the road to get their share.

It is quite a busy road and some ran along the Armco barrier to stay off the road, and others used the overhead power lines to cross the road in safety.

Here is a good Trivial Pursuit question:

How long does it take a monkey to peel a banana?

The answer is: About 3.4 nano-seconds.

The speed and dexterity of the monkeys is really amazing.

Quite a lot of the monkeys were carrying babies. The little ones hung on underneath mum when she was running to join the fray. Some of them really looked rather big to still be hanging on to mother, but I guess as long as she does not complain they will go for the free ride.

We went up almost to the top of the mountain overlooking the two highest lakes above Bedugul.

We had barely glimpsed the view when it started to rain. Not just a whimpy shower or two, but a deluge of biblical proportions.

Luckily shelter was available inside the restaurant, where we enjoyed a local specialty; deep-fried bananas, sprinkled with grated cheese and topped with chocolate sauce. If may sound a bit of a weird mixture, but I really liked them.

Mind you, for me, anything smothered in chocolate sauce is good!

From the top of the mountain, we dropped down to Bedugul, to visit the temple on the lake there. To see that, please go to the next page....

After the temple visit, we went to the busy town of Ubud. It is a bustling market town, but it seems that there is a temple on just about every block in town.

Beside the fancy gates to this temple were very explicit instructions about what you had to wear if you were to be allowed inside. Basically you had to get togged up in full traditional dress, otherwise you would not be welcome.

The narrow gate opened into a surprisingly large courtyard, with several praying areas for the various ceremonies.

Despite Indonesia having the most Muslims of any country in the world, Bali is substantially Hindu, with a few Buddhist thrown into the mix.

If there is not a temple near by, then there seems to be a shrine on most street corners.

To my less than knowledgable eye, this one looks to have a Buddhist influence, as the statue is wearing a cloth wrap, which apparently is a typically Buddhist thing to do.

We finished a very eventful day, with a very traditional Indonesian meal in Ubud.

The whole place was traditional, not just the food. You had to leave your shoes at the entrance and squat on the floor on thin mats. My knees do not do cross-legged any more and have just about recovered from the meal.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple - one of the most famous temples in Bali
Pura Hulundanu Batur - a temple off the normal tourist track.

Mount Batur - a trek up a volcano

Mount Agung - an attempt on Bali's highest volcano.

Back to Indonesia page
Back to Ligaya main page Back to John and Lana's home page