Friday, March 2, 2018

Our two days in Bali

What does one say about Bali? The name and images I've seen over the years evokes a blissful and beautiful island. Green and lush, beautiful beaches with soft white sand. Blue-green-aqua waters with small waves lapping at your feet. Swinging in a hammock under a shady palm tree. 

Yes, it's all that and more. By more, I mean traffic. And sudden rainstorms. Oppressive heat and humidity. Gack!! But also, sweet and welcoming people. Smiles abound, everyone wishing you well and wanting to help. Unfailingly polite. 

Five of us - Bernd and Mieke, Patrick and Janice and I had preplanned an overnight tour for our two days in Bali. Our tour guide, Apple, ended up being a no-show, even after months of communication with Mieke. And he was not an unknown. They had used Apple twice before and had enjoyed tours with him. But somehow, this time he was nowhere to be found. Disappointed yet not deterred, we negotiated with another licensed tour guide outside of the terminal and were soon on our way towards the north central part of the island. Our resort where we had reservations was by Munduk, a small town high in the mountains, near two beautiful lakes. 

Having never visited Bali before, I could have toured the famous spots around the southern part of the island, but I know I will return again and can do that another time. This time I was happy to spend a couple of days with my friends. We have a good time together, I think. 

Lots of laughter!

Our first stop was at Taman Ayun, the royal temple of The Mengwi Empire. It used to be a secret Hindu  temple. It is set on pretty full of gardens and surrounded by a moat of fish ponds. 

The temples here in Bali are predominantly Hindu, unlike the Buddhist temples that I toured in Myanmar in January. 

After the temple we continued our journey north and stopped along some rice fields for a few minutes. So many of these fields are still maintained by hand. Very labor intensive! 

As we climbed into the mountains the weather cooled and rain threatened in the sky. We were getting hungry for lunch so our guide found a quiet and private restaurant situated overlooking terraced rice fields. Gorgeous site! 

No surprise, I had a noodle dish - Bakmi Goreng and a local beer. We had the place to ourselves. 

Before reaching our resort later in the afternoon we stopped to visit another temple, set alongside a huge lake. It is called Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. The lake it is set at us Bratan Lake. 

While there, I was approached by a small group of students from another island who were there on a school tour. They had assignments to find people from another country and interview them. The kids were so polite and I let them practice their English by asking me my name, where I was from and how did I like Bali. Then they all wanted pictures with me. There was lots of giggling. I'm not sure I want to know why.......

We reached our resort about 4:00 PM. The place, Munduk Moding Plantation Resort, is a lovely eco- resort that includes a coffee plantation. The villa guest rooms were really nice and the views from the pool and restaurant area were stunning. It didn't take most of us long to don our bathing suits and enjoy the pool and jacuzzi. 

We changed and met up for dinner around 7:00. When you stay at this resort, you're pretty isolated so there really is just one choice for a place to eat and that's the resort. There are only 19 guest suites here and I'm thinking they were not full, as there were only about four other tables with guests. We had a leisurely meal and good conversation, as usual. 

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast we said goodbye to the resort and had a lively conversation about the day's agenda. All aboard for the ship was at 7:30 PM but our guide insisted he was required to return us no later than 6 PM. Okay by me. I knew Jack was missing me and I was hoping to be able to make it back by dinner time. 

Everyone wanted to visit a nearby waterfall so that was our first destination of the day. We turned off the highway and headed down a very bumpy dirt road for about 3 miles or so. The sign for the hike

to the waterfall at the parking area said it was a 15 minute walk. Wrongo!! Try 30 minutes down and 40 back up. Yes. Down down down to the falls. Winding steep slippery path. Very cool and picturesque though! The tough trek was worth it as we were rewarding with twin waterfalls at the bottom. They are called the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls. I have to hand it to Bernd in particular because he was nursing a sore knee and it was no easy feat climbing down the steep and muddy steps. The rails (where they existed) were made from pieces of bamboo and lashed together with ropes from leaves. 

The trip to the falls obviously took us more than twice as long as we had budgeted for, but we still had time to stop at some markets for a little shopping, another temple and a community compound showing how many Balinese families live. 

I practiced my bargaining skills at the markets and feel like I did a pretty good job, as I got some nice batik material to take home and hopefully have made into a couple of tunics or dresses for summer. 

Our tour of Bali over, I was happy to  see that we got back to the ship at a little before 5 PM. It was a perfect two days!!

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