Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Uluwatu with friends

Let us introduce you to Fais, our dear friend. We met Fais many months ago on the beach while he was selling ice cream, he walks along “our” beach selling ice out of a cool box he carries around. There are many guys like him selling ice, but soon we made friends with Fais and he always stop for a talk and a break if we are on the beach. He is from Java, working in Bali because here there are more jobs then in Java. Oby, Fais’ girlfriend was also coming over to Bali some weeks ago, she had just finished high school and also wants a job here on Bali. At the moment she doesn’t have a job yet. Fais told us that she wants to see more of Bali, so we suggested going together to Uluwatu temple in the south. We still had to go there ourselves and would like to show them some of Bali. This was of course our treat and we enjoyed doing something nice for and together with Fais and Oby. After some convincing he accepted the invitation and we had a fabulous afternoon and evening!

After Rino finished work we met Fais and Oby on the scooter and made the one-hour drive to Uluwatu. Arriving at the temple area it was like all tourists suddenly came out of the ground, it was so crowded. Uluwatu is also famous for its monkeys, just like in Monkeyforest in Ubud. The difference was that they steal and pick more from people, so be careful with anything in your pocket or anywhere. We saw monkeys grab several pars of glasses from people and happily chewing them to pieces. Uluwatu temple is laying on the very tip of the big cliff that goes out in the sea and is not open for the visitors. But there are some amazing viewpoints where you can look down in the sea and out over the ocean south of Bali, and of course you can watch the huge cliff and the temple from a distance. The perfect view is with the sunset. It sadly was cloudy this afternoon, so the sunset wasn’t very clear, but it was still beautiful and the view is still breath taking.

Every evening at 6 they show the Kecak dance at Uluwatu, this is a very special Balinese dance, performed by only men. Instead of the usual gamelan orchestra, the voices of the men are the music accompanying this performance. In Bali there are not many places the kecak dance is shown commercially for tourists, but Uluwatu shows it every day. We didn’t see it yet, so this was a great opportunity. Fais also had heard about it and was so happy to be able to experience this show. The sunset was also still beautiful when the show started, couldn’t be better!

The show was impressive, the choir of the men’s voices is incredible to listen too and the dance performance and story that is told by the dancers makes it even more beautiful. It is a story about Rama & Sita, a Hindu love story between a King and his princess. To get a slight impression of the sounds here is a video we took:

After the show it was dark and we took the scooters to go home. On the way we stopped at our favourite Vietnamese small restaurant to eat. Oby and Fais had never had Vietnamese food so it was nice to try something new. The whole evening was so much fun for all of us! Fais told us that for him the show was like in his dreams or on TV and he enjoyed everything a lot together with Oby. Then we realize that we do this things every weekend, sometimes every day. We see the world, we eat food from all corners of the world, we do what we want when we want. We enjoy and we are impressed but at the same time we are used to do all this... When you enjoy and experience through the eyes of Fais and Oby one afternoon in Bali....then you realize how magical and beautiful all this is, to be able to do all this all the time for 10 months! Thank you Fais and Oby to let us be your friends and see the world the way you see it sometimes! :-)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Traditional fighting

It is already a half-year ago since we visited Tenganan village, the village in east Bali belonging to the Aga people, descendants from the original Balinese people. The people are known for their conservatism and resistance to change. They have traditions and rituals that are different from the rest of Bali Hinduism and culture, as an example, they bury their people instead of cremation and they have a communistic system which does not recognize individual ownership of property, they share everything.
Talking to some people in the village in January, they told us there was going to be a certain kind of ceremony/ritual in June we should come and see. It was going to be men fighting each other with thorny pandan leaves. We memorized the date and promised to come and see it.

Tuesday 15 June it was time for the ritual in Tenganan, Rino asked to leave work early and off we went on the scooter. We had seen in a magazine that the start time was 4pm, we wanted to be in time and well aware of the "elastic Bali time", we were not sure the time in the magazine was correct. Driving up the last kilometers to the village we saw people, cars and scooters going suspiciously much in the opposite direction of us, we knew that both thought the is already finished. But after a 1½ hour drive you don’t just assume, you check for sure. We parked on the extremely busy parking lot and walked into the village. It was almost not recognizable from last time, packed with Indonesian, foreign tourists and locals, it was a busy atmosphere with food stalls and marked stalls selling all kinds of stuff. We quickly asked a girl if the fight was over, luckily it was not! :-) It was just lasting for many hours and therefore a lot of people already went home. We were so relived and hurried up the village to where the fight was taking place.

The fight is known as mekare kare, the ritual blood sacrifice. All men in the village get involved in the ritual, using thorny pandan leaves to draw blood. The men are carrying weapons of a rotan-woven shield to protect themselves and a bundle of the thorny pandan leaves, used to scratch the opponent's skin until it bleeds.
Before the fight begins, participants drink rice wine or arak, local palmspirit, to symbolize brotherhood and sportsmanship. But when the Balinese music fills the air, a volley of fierce jeers, insults, cheers and shouts are thrown to instil fear. And the fighting begins.
The fighting is judged by a mediator, mostly a prominent figure of the village, and usually lasts for 5 to 10 minutes. The first person to draw blood with the thorny weapon is the winner, and the person he draws blood from is the beaten. Both winner and beaten are broken apart by the mediator as soon as blood is drawn.
As the injured are treated with traditional liquid medicines, and all fighters recover their strength, the whole village prepares food and drink for a big feast, which must follow the Balinese sacrifice of human blood.

To us it looked a bit chaotic, a lot of people standing on and around the stage where the fights took place, and each fight was directly followed by the next. We could imagine that people left after half an hour looking. Bur it for sure was an interesting happening and it was fascinating to look at the men and boys fighting and how they came down with blood on their backs and chests. It was for sure real battles, but luckily a lot of laughing all the time. They clearly had a lot of fun together despite all the wounds and blood. A fighting for the ritual and tradition, but still very friendly somehow because of all the smiles and laughs.

We are happy we went to see. See the pictures for an impression of the happening.

This is not our video, but its on youtube, you can see how the fights go.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And now, the end is near…..

....and so all the visits were already gone and before we knew it we have 2 weeks left on our little paradise island! We have had a (for what we were used to) busy couple of months with almost constantly friends staying in our house and in the middle of it Rino had to finish his thesis. We had a lot of fun with everyone, have seen and done new things in Bali and seen a lot for the 2nd and 3rd time, which was more than worth it every time! Amazingly we don’t get tired of beautiful rice paddies, Bali jungle and cruising around on the scooter. Because of the seasons of the rice fields it looks different every time and every stage of it is stunning again in different ways. The fields just filled with water, the newly planted baby rice, farmers standing to their knees in the mud planting the rice, the growing green rice, the yellowish rice ready for harvest, the harvest with all the farmers together in the fields and then the fields right after harvest. It all makes the landscape look different and it all has its new beauty!

Pictures of the stages of rice farming :-)

The last visit was from Anneloes and Marloes. There was a lot of partying, scootering and enjoying all aspects of Bali together, beach by day, beach by night, snorkeling, trekking and experiencing the culture.

Weekend trip
In the weekend we went together exploring parts of Bali. We did Ubud and surroundings, went by scooter through beautiful central Bali to the east, where we did a 4 hour trekking route in Tirta Gangga. Seeing the fantastic rice fields, some viewpoints and a perfect route to see some of the real Bali and how people live, outside the tourist areas. Sunday after Tirta Ganga Rino went home to work on Monday. We three girls went further east to Amed to snorkel. We found a bungalow on the beach for a really good price including dinner and breakfast. Snorkeling right out of the beach, Amed is simply fantastic, now in the dry season the water also was incredibly clear. Monday we took the fantastic route to Ujung along the coast and slowly back home again. On the way we stopped for lunch at the beautiful place Kebun Impian , where Rino and I stayed once before. We also stopped on White sand beach for a swim before heading back to Seminyak.

Spa & fun

The girls and I didn’t meet since our unbelievable experience with our thesis last year, winning two money prices. We wanted to spoil ourselves one day and we sure did. I’m spoiled every single day here of course, I am well aware of that. But the girls are hard working nurses and could really use a treat like this. 3 hours spa: body massage, facial and pedicure & foot massage. Ever going to Bali? Take a lot of spa treatments, it is SO cheap! After the spa we walked to Cocoon, a luxury looking club/restaurant down at the beach, with a swimming pool, big comfy beds and gooooood (read: expensive) food and drinks. The beds are free if you have food and drinks, so its not too bad, but you feel like a spoiled rich kid, but hey we actually were this day ;-)
We ended this fantastic day with the best party in Bali: the beach party at La Plancha, which we enjoy every three weeks. And it was a success as usual, as much fun as it could possibly be! :-)
Siv Hege, our friend from Norway stopped by Bali for a couple of days on her 12 months around the world trip. She timed it perfect and could join us for the beach party. Check out her travel blog (its Norwegian) on

Friends & fun
We have been partying more than usual the last weeks, because of visits of the party girls Sarah, Marloes and Anneloes ;-) It has been a lot of fun and we have been getting to know more people because of getting out more. Our new favourite, despite that we don’t like Kuta, is Cow bar. Its not so much the bar, but because of Chalie, a friend playing there on Wednesdays with our new friend Roger. And because of the girls, Ella and Yeni, who work there. Within 10 minutes the first time we came there we noticed that these girls are too much fun. Such sweet, genuine and funny Balinese girls, we are so happy to have the pleasure to have met you Asbak & Rekening! ;-)

One more thing: you all should check out Nok La Fiesta, a Thai girl we met here. She is a huge talent with her guitar, rhythm and voice! She travels around playing and saving money to someday be able to go to South America and play her music. We just love her. Check her out on youtube and facebook :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nearly graduated :-)

Since this is only my (Rino) third blog post about my internship it is clear that it was not as interesting as the rest of our adventures here on Bali ;-). Last time I explained that I kept myself busy with guiding the process of the practical training for the students of Stenden Bali. Well, that has kept being my main focus during the past few months. Furthermore I also did my research project about this practical training and I have been active finishing the project as well. This has kept me much more busy compared to the first half of my internship. I will not bother you with all the details, since these are just boring, but I ‘nailed it’ and received only very positive marks for both my internship as my research project. This means that I just have to work until the first of July and then I will receive my Bachelor of Business Administration in International Hospitality Management :-)

Overall looking it has not been the most interesting internship, but if I had to do it all over again I think I would still go for this hotel. To work in a completely Indonesian/Balinese hotel was a great experience. The benefit of this is also that everybody is very relaxed, which meant that I could give my own twist to the internship (manage my own working hours etc.). My General Manager (Pak Goesde) is also a Balinese and he really liked to talk to me, so I have learned a lot from him about the very interesting and complex (say corrupt) Indonesian hotel/business industry.

So this is probably going to be my last blog post about my internship, because I don’t think there will be happening so much more ;-). I will never regret making the decision to do this internship, since it was the reason for us to go to Bali for 10-months and I can say it was an experience of a lifetime.

To all my Puri Saron colleagues, thanks’ for having me :-)

Barry Doesburg (my internship coordinator) on the left, Pak Gusti Kade Sutawa General Manager and my internship supervisor in the middle and me on the right :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sarah's Bali memories

Sarah has been so sweet to write us a guest blog about her Bali experience. We are happy to share it with you! :-) Here we go:

It is now two and a half week ago I came home from visiting Iris and Rino in Bali. I still think about the island every day… Bali has it all!
When I arrived I noticed that everything is so green (and I didn’t see that much of Bali yet)! There are palm trees at the airport, beautiful flowers are growing outside, which you can only see in man-made botanic gardens in the Netherlands, blue sky and really nice heat. The heat on Bali is a really nice one, it is really warm, not as sticky and muggy as the heat in the Netherlands.
I didn’t mind that I was completely wet and sweaty when we arrived at Iris and Rino’s, because WTF I’M IN BALI!!!

The beaches in Bali are beautiful! Even the Seminyak beach is NOT the same (no Iris, it is not the same!) as a beach in the Netherlands or in any European country! There are many different kind of beaches in Bali; beaches with dark sand and high waves, beaches with fine white sand and really calm water, beaches with fine white sand and the most beautiful blue-green water you have ever seen, beaches with lovely fishermen boats and ‘never-ending’ swimming pools... do I have to go on? The sea is never too cold to swim in, but always a nice refreshment after laying in the warm sun for a couple of hours or playing tennis at the beach. And hell yeah, I’m good at playing tennis at the beach! ;)
As said the nature in Bali is so green! There are many different kinds of tropical trees, plants and flowers I never saw before. Everywhere you go you see palm trees in all kinds of forms, heights and with different kinds of fruit in it. The palm trees gave me the ultimate holiday feeling!
The small yellow and white flowers you see everywhere on Bali are so beautiful! Iris called them prefect and I think she is kind of right! Besides all the beautiful natural vegetation, you have the Balinese rice fields. Wow, they are stunning!! All the different kinds of green, young rice is intense green, older rice is more yellow-green. It was so nice to drive and walk through it! I saw rice fields before in Nepal, but the Balinese fields won by far!
One of the fine things about the Balinese nature is, that it is not only lovely and sumptuously beautiful, but it can also be rough and raw beautiful! One weekend we climbed mount Agung, the highest and most sacred mountain of Bali. The walk up (and the walk down as well) were tough, but so worth it! The first part up was vegetated, with a lot of trees and plants, the second part were only stones, sand and rocks. And when we arrived at the top at 6 in the morning (full of adrenaline, we made it we made it we made it AAHHH!!) we saw a beautiful sun rise! What a fantastic experience was that!!

The Balinese culture and people are so nice. Bali is the only Hindu island of Indonesia, the rest of the islands are mostly Muslim. The way they practice Hinduism is different than other Hindu countries. They’ve add some part of Buddhism into their way of practicing Hinduism, what makes them really open-minded to other people, cultures and religions. They bring offerings all day, for good and bad spirits, for family, neighbors and tourists, for good business, a wealthy harvest, for everything! Every morning Rino and Iris’ neighbors bring an offer for them, so sweet!

I can go one for ages writing down all the good things about Bali. I can write about the delicious food, about a 2 hour all-you-can-drink for 5 euro, about beach parties and peeing in the sea, about all the shopping you can do in Bali (shopping in Bali is really dangerous, everything is so nice and cheap, you want to buy everything! I think Iris and I became addicts...), about driving scooter with or without lots of goods, about swimming pools with the best sea view of the world, about watching the sunset when you lay on your sun bed, thinking about how good you life is...

But I think the best part of being in Bali was seeing Rino and Iris again! It was so nice to see them again, after such a long time and find out that they are luckily exactly the same as 8 months ago!
Dank je wel voor alles lieve schatten!!