Bucket List No. 82 : Bali

There is something very interesting about Bali why it got onto my list. Odd but it’s not for the beach actually (I come from the beautiful Philippines that boasts magnificent powder-soft white beaches and sparkling turquoise waters), not about Eat Pray & Love too, it’s not about the shopping (well actually, had to think twice about this), not about the temples (we were in Thailand before here and had a lot of temples before this visit)… But I’ve read about Bali on a mere speck of curiosity about the PANGAEA.

On what is Pangaea, would be too long to go down to Science but Google is your friend.

There was a documentary about how the supercontinent break up into our now continents and since, the now, Indonesia has a wealth of volcanoes, its believed that the volcano which had the magnanimous eruption thousands of years ago caused the breaking up and scattering of the Pangaea which is now known as the continents today.

But well, that is just the nerd me springing-off. It’d be nice to live in the present day and discover the place. Don’t know what to expect about Bali but here are the ‘inspector’s findings’:

First off, towards Kuta beach.

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Big entrance stone carvings to Kuta

No, don’t be fooled by the deceiving photos because of course I intently captured the nice sides of it. 2015-04-25 11.29.55 Yes surfing is great in Kuta beach. Well, this was the main thing why tourists discovered this decades ago. Until the advent of the tourists caused the island (Kuta at least) to be heavily-trodden with blatant development, cramping of the streets, traffic jams at any time of the day, massive commercialism, the innate politeness of the locals may have also been affected. I have still met very polite and genuinely-friendly Balinese, our tour driver for example, seemed very knowledgeable and has very good English. He patiently toured and guided us the key areas of Bali, especially that I have been asking then about volcanoes, and if they know where the first Balinese natives come from.

The pure, conservative, benevolent Balinese’ values are now… some, not all… were ruined and self-exploited along with its deserted tourism : garbage, trash, rubbish in the beach however you may call it – is absolutely disgusting! So sad how they were not able to control this. (Prepare yourself for the upcoming photos, I don’t mean to put you off to your trip to Bali, but don’t worry this is just in Kuta).

WP_20150424_037 Friday afternoon, it’s impossible to find your spot on the sand or sit at your own risk. People will stomp on you, there’s no peace. I was shocked witnessing these scenarios especially the garbage, see it with your own eyes when you get here. 2015-04-24 16.49.27Who says Kuta beach sand is nice? It’s BLACK. Actually golden (but coarse and dirty) but this black thing might be a filthy oil or something.

I could have taken a lot more photos of the trash but couldn’t stand it anymore and we left after seconds, supposedly wishing to get a glimpse of the sunset. Well, it was cloudy on that day but then no thanks too. The crowd and the trash put us off so we left for a nicer view somewhere else. The only positive thing I discovered is, Bali has many English channels, including E! so I can watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians (*giggles*!) that Thailand do not have.

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Our sweeping views form the SeaSky bar of Citadines Kuta.

So to relieve you from the upsetting situations of Kuta beach (and the depressing overly-developed streets of Legian Street and the surrounding streets and it’s hot, terrible traffic which may be too much to take now after all the trash in the beach and the hideous statement TShirts and stickers in stalls which can just outright say F* word and C* word and all the obnoxious expressions, name it you’ll get it all in Kuta and the surrounds [plus the pushy, rude touts by the way])… Let me take you the BETTER sights of Bali which can be spots for your holidays. Personally,  I don’t want Bali to be my honeymoon destination. It’s dark side will ruin the romantic mood.

But check out these places, you might want to opt to these upscale and chic places instead

1. Nusa Dua. The gorgeous Nusa Dua, that is.

Well, I must admit, Nusa Dua changed my heart about Bali. Maybe because we first saw Kuta then that made the first impression. Glad we visited Nusa Dua, the luxurious area for those who wants to splurge and indulge to holidays, the place for Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Sofitel and the like, Nusa Dua is the destination for the opulent 5-star holidays.

2. Sanur Beach.

Sanur beach is another less-touristy area although yes you’d find stalls and restaurants too but not as outrageous in numbers as in Kuta area/ Legian Street. There are spots which you’ll be alone in the whole blanket of sands. And there are strips of restaurants and coffeeshops too. The people here are more relaxed, the restaurant staff are more accommodating too and smiling, maybe they are not that stressed compared to the ones in Kuta area.

2015-04-23 13.44.462015-04-23 13.36.15Yes, to answer your question, it’s more expensive here. Nusa Dua may top it all but Sanur is on the middle between Kuta and Nusa Dua.This is where the boats to Lembongan and Gili islands leave too.

3. Tanah Lot.

The temple sits on a massive offshore rock which was built by the locals in the 16th century that is when it’s got its name Pura Tanah Lot (temple at the land in the sea). This is one of the majestic places that left me breathless and was so grateful I finally saw this which just used to have been sketched in paintings and displayed in photographs.

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The black volcanic rock formations, Basalt and all –  with brave sea breaks splashing on the shores remind me of Agatha Christie’s scenes of perilous cliffs and bays where there are mysteries hidden. Same thing I’ve felt seeing the place hehehe!

Although commercialized now, I am left hoping this gem will not be affected (and eventually may be ruined) by massive tourism.2015-04-23 16.39.31 4. See the stone carvings.

One thing unique about the Balinese temples are its stone carvings. Demons and muses were carved, buddhas and temple “guardians” will sit at any local’s gate or a door of a hotel, garden or even a shop or restaurant. It’s very unique and just interesting about how tedious this craftmanship could be. There is a street where you could ask your driver (we paid him 500,000 Rupiah/ 50 AUD for the whole day tour) to take you to where you could see the whole street of stone carvings sold and displayed.

5. Civet Cat Coffee/ Kopi Luwak.

This is funny. Some local or maybe in a village some years ago, whatever may have occurred in his mind, washed the poop of a Civet Cat, locally called as Luwak (its more of a look-a-like of a squirrel or something and found only in Sumatra and Bali wild areas) and roasted the solid coffeebean because what was digested at Luwak’s stomach is just the skin of the bean. The solid poop (sorry for those who are eating) is sanitized through thorough washing and then roasted, grounded and made for consumption. They said the taste is smoother and different from then Robusta/Arabica coffeebean. Of course I have to find out, so I tasted! Gosh! Coffee never been this exciting!

But actually, it indeed is smoother than the normal Arabica/ Robusta because the latter is so strikingly strong. The place where we were taken by our driver also sells this organic teas and we tasted them for free, which is great! We didn’t buy any to take home though but at least we had free taste of Rosella teas, Tamarind, Lemongrass, Ginger teas and chocolate blocks too. But we bought a cup of Luwak coffee to try. Great to try it but I don’t know if I’m gonna consume it in any daily basis, it’s so expensive! It was said to be $25 US a cup in New York, no way who would consume it daily! But great to try!… A bucket list ticked!2015-04-26 14.11.236. The ricefields.

You can picture out Julia Roberts bicycling surrounded with the beautiful ricefields in an orange late afternoon. The rice terraces didn’t really frantically overwhelmed me like it may impact other tourists. You can imagine, I grew up in the grassy laid-back Bukidnon (means mountainous) in the Philippines which supplies the rice (yes we eat rice too haha!) to the nearby regions, plus we have our own rice terraces in the Philippines called Banaue Rice Terraces in the north region. But still great to see this, I in fact insisted to see it because I am missing the scenery. I was melancholic then seeing the ricefields.

Lunch overlooking the terraces is a perfect idea!WP_20150426_0127. Seminyak Beach.

Seminyak, just at the north of Kuta beach looks like onto its way of becoming a Kuta too, hope there’s still hope for turning back. It’s becoming now solidly crowded, the already-dark brown beach occasionally gets some trash, cigarette butts and packs, plastic cups from drinks, etc. Sad. When this is the upperscale area above Kuta. Go and see it before it’s too late. 2015-04-26 18.29.472015-04-26 18.29.57 8. Swastika.

I am not referring to the Nazi Swastika. But this is the most interesting research you could do before hopping on your plane to Bali just to get a gist what may have originated it.

Out from curiosity, I have arrived way far out from the pure research on what to see and do in Bali from Tripadvisor and other blogs. And this is out from my combined research and my natural chats to the tour driver, squeezing him up to the most information he can spill from where’s first generations of Balinese come from, the volcanic formations (my Pangaea issues), the interesting fact that they do not have Surnames or last names! (more research on this of course), the difference of the Balinese Hinduism to the Indian Hinduism (the young Balinese eat beef) – and Balinese have more Hindus than Muslims, the rice being sacred (hence there are many Nasi Goreng, Nasi Campur, Nasi….) Now, here’s another Nasi, not actually about the Nazis. But it’s the symbol! The Svastika!

An article I have read said, there was a Hindu old man photocopying his Swastika symbols for a design of a temple or something, he was then pointed out to be a member of Nazi! And he was so confused what’s going on and defended he is not! Now whatever is the reason why the Nazi group chose Swastika as its symbol, then they must have seen the essence of it and how dramatically each of the fine imagery has a mysterious meaning to it.

Swastika had existed even before Jesus Christ, because it says it has been there for more than 3,000 years. In Sanskrit, Svastika means Su – good, and tika (or as I remember the Balinese old man told us it was wastika) means direction or fairness to everyone or flat. It is a sacred symbol for Hinduism. Now the reason I mentioned that is, you will find many Swastika symbols in Bali. But no it doesn’t have any connection to the now stigmatized symbol of the Nazi which supposedly gives a good meaning. The four legs has a meaning and the turns of clockwise and counter-clockwise has meanings too. The balinese man even told us, they refer to the Swastika the compatibility of someone to marry, being opposite on the diagonal lines, etc.

Apart from that, the old villages (they have stages of community groups), composed of a family, their village USES THE DESIGN OF THE SWASTIKA SYMBOL. This is the village where the locals still live currently, it still exist although because of the increasing population now it has become almost impossible for each family to form a village according to the Swastika design. The four corners the position of the hut diagonally-opposite to the other, the common kitchen, the temple (women will not be allowed to enter the temple if they have monthly periods or have not washed their hair), the elders’ house, the sons and daughters (daughters were put away from the gates) and an area where the rice is stored and because it is important for them it is stored above the head (again, the Nasi – origins) . So there was a headboard storage for the rice there. Four is an important number, they have 4 stages in life, the first stage in this Hinduism – Balinese one – is where from the newborn to single, non-married belongs to. They can eat beef as opposed to the original Hinduism from India. And the latter stages then differs from when you are married, etc. Then you cannot eat beef anymore. The four legs will also have different arithmetic calculations, the perfection of life, etc. How clever! It takes an immense scrutiny on its background to fully understand it.

There are more, a whole lot more reason to visit Bali than the pure nightlife, surfing, and shopping.  I could write a whole lot more here and I could not stop but pack your stuff and visit Bali, not just Kuta and the ugly tourism there, but discover more about its arts and culture!

Inspired and grateful for this awesome discoveries,

Fritzie xoxo

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