– MAY 20-21, 2015
One of Jill’s objectives was to hit the Indonesian Galungan Festival, but it doesn’t start this year until July. Galungan is a Balinese holiday that celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma. It seems that the date of this celebration is calculated according to the 210 day Balinese calendar, so 2014 held the events on May 21st and December 17th, while 2015 doesn’t start until July 15th. Nevertheless we were going to more deeply experience the local culture in Bali.
While wandering the streets we saw some unique and culturally rich buildings that caught our eyes. We looked inside and a cheerful man invited us further in. He was proud of his home outdoor prayer area and invited us to come back the next day to join him and his family/friends (approx. 30 people) in a private religious ceremony. We accepted the offer without hesitation. Sometimes wandering aimlessly can get you some amazing opportunities!
We returned the next afternoon and introduced ourselves to the crowd. A couple of people spoke excellent English, so we communicated through them. The children had never been this close to pasty white people, so they were fascinated with us. The ceremony then started in a bit of a disorganized fashion. Some people hummed, some sang, some started fires, some adjusted offering plates, while others talked about their day. It wasn’t like church back in North America, where everyone knows when it starts and are led by an individual. Here there was an elder, but he clanged on some metal pipes while the elder women chanted and hummed in a way that wasn’t in synchronization. It was like listening to Jim Carrey quickly repeat everything you say a split second after you say it. The one lady started by singing a word (like “e”), then the others started singing the same letter and then it broke into some humming tune with “e” brought in over and over. It was interesting.
While the humming and metal clanging were taking place, the middle aged men got up and blessed the offerings to their gods. Coins were tossed at the offerings by one man, then water was sprinkled then incense smoke was blown over top.
Then the elder man (who was clanging the metal pipes) sat center stage and led the group in the first organized manner of the day. He spoke and everyone followed his actions in prayer motions.
This went on for over 30 minutes and we had received permission to sit at the back and take pictures. Very friendly people.
You can’t go to South East Asia without looking for the amazing food opportunities…and Bali is certainly no exception. You can experience the food in Bali’s “Warung” (means shop) and Rumah Makan (means eating home). They have these places located off the main tourist areas and these are where you need to go to aim for $2 meals that will blow your mind! The main tourist areas have a ton of western food options and its sad to say that those restaurants are flooded with the white tourists. These tourist zone restaurants have the same food as back home at the same prices…why would anyone go to Bali to have a 6″ turkey sub, a pizza or a cheeseburger with fries? WHY???
One of our favorite places has become the Warung Murah Restaurant. This place is a gem and you can order off the menu (for Jill’s veggie ways) or you can go to the buffet (as seen in the pic below). You tell them what you want by pointing and they dish it up for you then give you a price based on what you chose. If we bring our own water bottles then we can eat a full and delicious meal here for a total of less than $5 Canadian combined for both of us. You cannot beat these prices and this place is always packed with locals.
We tried a fresh cut coconut with a Bintang beer. The Bintang is like a Moosehead lager and was quite good. The coconut water was sweeter than I expected. They give you a spoon to scoop out the fresh coconut and let me tell you it was delicious. I do not like coconut in North America, not the taste but rather the consistency, and this was not like the coconut you have back home. When you cut out the coconut meat it looked like the inside of a pear. It tasted great and I wish this was what we had back home.
I ordered the Nasi Campur from the buffet, which is a rice base (red, brown or yellow rice) with the day’s best dishes poured on top. This will change each day based on what they make. You might get chicken satay, pork, beef, veggies. fish….it all depends on what they made today. It is so freaking delicious that I could eat this every day. Jill had a veggie dish called Gado-Gado that cost $1.70 Canadian. It is a mixture of cooked vegetables served with a spicy peanut sauce.
For desert we ordered the fried banana with ice cream and the black bean pudding with sugar cane.
Jill also has her heart set on doing some surfing in Bali, so we hit the beach and found a good local who met our bartered price for 2 hours of surfing lessons with a board included. This was about 1/4 of the price the various places advertise for 2 hour lessons, but everything in Bali is open to price negotiation. As an example, if they start by telling you item X costs $45 you can offer them $8, expect to listen to them hassle you/tell you their sob story/call you bad names, then as you walk away they will meet your price. Its all part of the game here and the locals expect you to play it with them. Everyone here has a hard story but they like it when you barter with them. Everything is negotiable here.
There is always construction work going on in Bali. The beach had a great spot being worked on that had a concrete base and bamboo structure connected to it. I wonder if Ledcor has this technique figured out?
But the single greatest marketing idea for a pub I have ever seen is shown in the picture below. This is so perfect for a vacation tourist area that I had to stop and take a picture.
Bali also brought a new job opportunity to me.
– In New Zealand I was offered a job in Christchurch for Healthcare Architecture in their earthquake rebuild.
– In Australia I was offered a job at a hostel on Magnetic Island, a different job selling ice cream in Brisbane, and a proposition to become a partner in a Fraser Island dingo tour company.
– In Bali I was offered a job working at a restaurant due to what they call my “perfect English skills“.
Suffice to say I have not accepted any of these offers at this time. Ledcor is more appealing. 🙂
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.