Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bali Trip – Day 2

Where were we? Oh yeah, 1st day in Bali. Everything nice and dandy, until we found out we were actually broke and had no money to do anything or go anywhere. What a way to start our holiday.

The next morning, having slept quite early the night before, we both woke up early for Subuh prayers. Since breakfast wasn’t ready until 8am, hubby decided to take a quick bath and head out to the nearby Circle K convenient store (similar to 7-11 over here) to try and see if he could withdraw any money. I decided to sleep a little while longer, still not being in a very cheery mood.

After about 20 minutes, hubby came back up to our room. I waited with anticipation for the news; successful or not. With a sly smile, hubby took out his wallet and showed me the money. Glorious, magnificent money!! We were broke, no longer!! We had cash!! Our holiday plans were back on track!! It’s slightly shameful how having no money turned me into a sobbing, blubbering fool while having money transformed me into a lustful, ecstatic, grinning from ear to ear idiot. Just slightly shameful.

After breakfast, we headed down to the lobby. After negotiating with the Inn people, we hired one of their drivers aka supir, to take us sightseeing.
We decided to head to Tanah Lot first, seeing it was the nearest place to visit.
One of Bali's most important sea temples, Tanah Lot temple is built atop a huge rock, surrounded by the sea. Build in the 16th century, Tanah Lot's rituals include paying of homage to the guardian spirits of the sea. Poisonous sea snakes found in the little caves at the base of the rocky island are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The best time to view the place is during sunset coz the sun sets right behind the temple, giving it an illuminated glow. Since we arrived at Tanah Lot around 10am, we had to forgo the sunset view and be content with viewing the temple in daylight. Entrance fee is Rp10,000 per person (locals get a different rate), so we took our time and toured the entire area. It was beautiful, but as the weather got hotter, we decided to head back to the car after ½ hour.

We had initially planned to head straight to Ubud and spend the night there but our supir suggested we head up north to Kintamani.
Promised on almost every tour available there, we figured we would make a day trip up to see the active volcano, have lunch at one of their famous restaurants and then head down to Ubud. The trip up north was wonderful; we saw many paddy fields and other beautiful sceneries. We even got to see a funeral at one of the houses we passed by. Our supir mentioned that the funerals like that were for the rich citizens, who could afford spending up to Rp2.5 million for the ceremony.

Once we reached Kintamani, we headed straight for the restaurant. Both of us were hungry, having only dry toast and fruits for breakfast.
We dined at one of the restaurants at the village of Penolakan, which gave us a beautiful view of Mount Batur (the volcano) and the Batur Lake. The caldera of Batur is impressive: 7 miles in diameter and 60 feet deep. We saw houses situated at the bottom of the volcano, just meters away from the blacken soil. The food wasn’t great (fortunately, everything was halal), but the view made up for everything.

Finally, after spending one hour, taking pictures and enjoying the view, we headed back down the valley. We arrived in Ubud around 3pm, and checked into the Merthayasa Inn. A rate for a double room was Rp80,000, so it fit right into our budget (we had money!!!). We made plans with our supir to start sightseeing again the next day at 9am. After a whole day of traveling, we were poofed. A late afternoon nap felt much in need.

After napping, we headed out to check out Ubud town. Unfortunately for us, most of the shops closed early, leaving us with not much choice but to do window shopping. We found out that a Kecak and Fire dance was being performed at 7pm at a nearby hall. We purchased tickets (Rp50,00 per person) and headed out again after dinner.

The Kechak Dance was very interesting. Unlike other dances, there is no gamelan orchestra accompanying it. Instead, a troupe of over 150 bare-chested men serve as the chorus, making a wondrous cacophony of synchronized "chak-achak-achak" clicking sounds while swaying their bodies and waving their hands. The men not only provide the rhythm for this dance but also act as the various monkey armies that are featured in the story and as the undulating snake in one of the scenes.

The storyline is pretty simple. The dance depicts a sub-plot from the Hindu epic the Ramayana.
In the story the wife of Rama, Sita, is kidnapped by Rama's arch-enemy, the king of Lanka, and taken to his palace of Alengka. In his search for Sita, Rama enlists the aid of the red monkey king Sugriwa. Together they select Hanoman, a white monkey with magical powers, to find Alengka and seek out Sita. Rama gives Hanoman his ring so that he can prove his identity to Sita when he finds her. Hanoman finds Sita, gives her the ring, and receives a flower to be taken back to Rama. The great general returns with his army of monkey warriors, portrayed by the choir. The bad guys are defeated. Sita is reunited with Rama. The end.

The Kechak dance lasted for 45 minutes but it didn’t feel long. We were then entertained by a dance by two enchanting girls. I forgot what that dance was called. Apparently during the dance, the girls were under a trance and danced with their eyes closed, but in perfect rhythm together. After that, they showcased something like the Kuda Kepang dance but the guy danced on burning coconut husks. It was a bit freaky. When it was all over, everyone gave a thunderous applause. If you go to Bali, seeing the Kechak dance is a cultural experience you just have to have. The chant “kechak, kechak, kechak” stayed in our head for days!! Hahaha.

The Kechak dance ended around 8.30pm so after that, hubby and I walked slowly back to our room. Most of the shops had closed, so we did a little more window shopping on the way. All that traveling had really worn us out, so we were asleep by 9.30pm.

A much better day than Day 1.

Bali Trip – Day 3 coming soon.


Kaklong Syikin said...

leganya ada duit balik.kalau tak tu, mau menangis, yelah duit makan pun takde, guane nak berholiday kan..syukur syukur.

Anonymous said...

haiya.. weak ah tak panjat mt. batur.. da sunrise is totally worth da 1.5 hrs climbing in da dark..
kecak dance rocks!! KECAK CAK CAK!! didnt bothered bout da story line tho.. all dat matters was *i see u bebeh.. shaking dat ass.. shaking dat ass (round da fire)* bwahahaha..

AAC Tour,Guide and Driver said...

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