Balmy Bali

After an extremely enjoyable but busy year we definitely need a rest so have headed to the lush tropical paradise that is Bali (only 4 hours away from Bangkok) for a bit of R & R.

We were quite shocked on arrival to find the temperature only 24 degrees while London at the same time was 28 degrees!!!! Coming from sweltering 34 degrees + humidity in Bangkok we found ourselves actually a bit chilly!!!! This wasn’t what we were expecting at all & we had to rapidly calculate whether we had brought enough sleeves and trousers!! Fortunately for us the grey clouds rolled away and the weather improved over our stay.

We started away from the tourist beaches and headed straight to Ubud in the centre of the Island where our hotel was nestled in the rainforest. The picture above is the view from our room of the lush jungle.

And the infinity pool (which did wonders to help unwind)

The first morning we did a paddy field trek for 2 hours before breakfast. I am ashamedly ignorant of the rice cultivation processes so this trip was a fascinating learning experience.

The paddy fields are ploughed using traditional machinery.

The rice husks are in the soil at the bottom of the clump (which hopefully you can just about see) They are clumped together here so are broken down into smaller pieces to be planted where they will have room to thrive.

The rice grows and through a complex irrigation system the fields are alternately flooded or drained at various stages of growth. The rice is ready for harvesting after 6 months.

All around the fields are multiple shrines and ceremonial offerings are made to the rice goddess, Dewi Sri, frequently throughout the growing process. This is because rice is such an important part of the island’s culture and heritage.

Much of the work is done by women, particularly the harvesting. They traditionally use a small hand-held scythe so as not to frighten the rice goddess. Bless. In an interesting example of role reversal the housekeeping staff in the hotel were all men and the farmers were predominantly women!!

I love this picture below as it is so typical. Dogs roam freely everywhere. This one looks as though he is surveying the land.

The religion in Bali is a fusion of Hinduism and local tribal customs. Apparently Bali is the only part of Indonesia which isn’t Muslim. Every living compound has an ornate gateway, the more lavish the gate the richer the occupants. This one is from the Palace

I thought this statute that we saw on one was brilliant …

Most female statues are of nubile pert figures representing fertility etc but this was much more realistic!!! (& honest)

Many statues are skirted with checkered cloth. This is very symbolic as the white squares represent good and the dark ones evil but together they are balanced in the pattern as they are in life. A good reminder I thought.

Ubud is famous for its Monkey Forest in the centre of town. Quite a substantial area is given over to providing a home for semi- wild monkeys. Hundreds of them.

For a small fee (£2.50) you can wander amongst them and watch them roaming around their natural habitat. There are big signs warning tourist how to behave as wild animals can be unpredictable. We were told not to feed them but we saw stupid people ignoring that & offering tidbits (which of course the monkeys grabbed but which weren’t necessarily nutritious).

We were also told not to panic if one jumped on you but to carry on walking calmly and the monkey would jump off. So guess what we saw… yep!!!

Panic and screaming!

The monkeys however were not stupid. They knew that the flow of tourists provided goodies, so like any reputable member of Fagin’s gang they attempted pick pocketing and were quite adept at undoing backpacks!! We even saw a couple carrying off treasures that they had purloined.

Tomorrow we set off for the Gili Islands. Our hotel there apparently has no hot water (!) so I am betting that WiFi will be non-existent. It might be quite refreshing to completely get away from it all. I will let you know.

Update: our pre-booked fast transfer to the island is cancelled due to bad weather!!!!! We have been moved to the slow boat….

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