Dreams of Bali Ha’i were calling me. Being this the first Asian country I have visited in 10 years I was thrilled by the music, dance, silver making and the kind people. With the population being 85% Hindu I will begin there. Hinduism is interlaced in most actions of the Balinese people. Yin and Yang, Ivory and Ebony, Kaja (sacred) and Kelod (demonic), good and bad were repeatedly mentioned in many presentations. The appreciation of this is easily seen by the offerings that are outside one’s home, store front and even road interchanges. The Balinese are always aware of the good and the bad.
These daily offerings are made of 4 colorful flowers representing 4 Gods of the many they worship. The breakdown follows;
North is Vishnu (protector/restorer) represented by the black or purple flower.
South is Brahma (creator) represented by the red flower.
East is Ishvara (supreme soul) represented by the white flower
West is Mahadeva represented by the yellow flower.
Center is Shiva
Needless to say while creating the daily offerings each God is represented thoughtfully. Oftentimes some crackers are included in the offering as well. These offerings are placed in very specific structures or handed to a visitor at a Balinese home. A traveler can see the overflowing of offerings everywhere.
Once in an Asian country be ready for multitudes of people! In Bali there are 4.2 million people. Traffic, congestion, noise and intrusive jostling is common. The temples we visited with the hope of a quiet, meditative moment never came to be. The Ulun Danu Temple is stunning. It is located on Lake Breton or locally called Lake of Holy Mountain. At 1500 meters above sea level, this is a major Shivaite and water temple. Downstream there are many more temples that serve local areas as specific irrigation outflow associations. The Tanah Lot temple, great to visit at sunset and the Singapadu Temple are other beautiful worship sites to explore.
Most homes (complexes) which house 20 or so relatives have temples referred to as a family shrine. The homes are based on a Dharma principle with specific architecture. The homes are designed considering the Buhr-underworld represented by water or the sea, Buwah-human realm which is between the mountains and coastal plains and the Swah-heaven designated by the mountains. These principles are also represented in the orientation and design of the house and their bamboo talisman outside of their homes.
The final lessons of Bali are more humorous. First of all food! If you like it spicy you are in the right place. The Balinese slimness is mostly due to the high quantity of peppers they use in most of their cooking- ultra stimulating their metabolism! Travelers are warned of this aspect frequently.
Another rule of the road in Bali is that some brochures say tour by scooter or bike. Thinking this was a quiet island town I was hoping to get on a bike tour. DON’T! We saw few bikes and the roads are deadly. As for a scooter, the road signs are few and far between and I could only imagine trying to read them when another 20 scooters are around you cutting and darting here and there. Taking a 2 hour bus ride to Ulun Danu Temple was the most entertaining just watching these maneuvers. My goal was to find a scooter with 4 or more people on it and I photographed many! Finally the traffic is horrific so a 17 mile trip can take 2 hours. Schedule your days accordingly. We missed a few sites due to time constrictions.
All in all Bali is wonderful. There is enough to occupy a week or more. Between the temples, Batiks in Tohpati Village, Silver and Gold artistry in Celuk village, wood carvings in Kemenuh village and the Kuta area for sun, surf, daring water sports-parasailing, jet skiing, inner tubing and torpedo riding, with no rules-you can find it all. Also the beautiful resorts are in Kuta. Finally don’t miss the Bali Bird Park, the terraced rice paddies or experiencing a tribal dance called Kecak and a fire dancer. The chanting and unique style of dance and dress illuminates that you are in a very special, beautiful Asian country. Enjoy!
Most people live on a lonely island,
Lost in the middle of a foggy sea.
Most people long for another island,
One where they know they will like to be.
Bali Ha'i may call you,
Any night, any day,
In your heart, you'll hear it call you:
"Come away...Come away."
Bali Ha'i will whisper
On the wind of the sea:
"Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!"
Your own special hopes,
Your own special dreams,
Bloom on the hillside
And shine in the streams.
If you try, you'll find me
Where the sky meets the sea.
"Here am I your special island
Come to me, Come to me.”
Rodgers and Hammerstein South Pacific.