Category Archives: Indonesia

April 8 – From Amed to Sanur, Bali

On our way to our next stop in Bali on the southeast coast near Sanur, we enjoyed seeing the amazing landscape of hills covered in jungle and terraced rice fields plus the valley’s filled with rice fields almost ready for harvest.  As luck would have it, the Water Palace we had visited the day before was on our way so Molly and Dan got to see it also.

Our route also took us by the village of Tenganan which is home to a group known as the Bali Aga or the original Balinese.  Maintaining many of the traditional ways of ritual life and ceremony, we watched as villagers worked together preparing communal meals or food stuffs.  One group was cleaning chickens after they had been killed, one grated coconuts, some tended fires with either huge woks or smoking stuffed banana leaves and one final group of woman took turns rhythmically pounding what looked to be some kind of dough with 3 huge sticks.

We also enjoyed seeing the some of the beautiful crafts produced by the village such as baskets woven from ata grass and pictures scratched on lontar palm and then colored with stain from the charcoal of mahogany wood.



April 16, Bali to Brisbane

The view from Brisbane's lovely pedestrian bridge with its museum/performing arts complex in the background.

With only a little more than 24 hours in Brisbane we rallied after quick showers to revive us and spent the afternoon at the science and history museum in Brisbane to learn a bit about Australia, including it’s history and flora and fauna.

Of particular interest was the history of the Aborigine tribes; a story that sadly has many parallels to the Native American story in North America.

We were also interested to see the amazing performing arts / museum complex in Brisbane and the vibrant night life on the streets which were were filled with people, live music and a generally good time.


April 15 – Molly’s birthday in Bali!

On a walk through the beautiful green rice fields north of Ubud.

Today, Molly displayed much grace while celebrating her birthday in a weird, yet wonderful manner.  Thrilled with her surprise gift of 2 boxes of Annies Mac and Cheese that Marmie brought with her and an ITunes card from Nana, we had to laugh to think of Molly being thrilled with a box of Mac and Cheese for any other birthday or Theo being excited about refried beans a year from now.

Our day started early again thanks to the rooster / duck chorus so we made good use of the time with everyone agreeing to spend the early hours traipsing through the wet, muddy and peaceful rice fields.

Molly working on her masterpiece.

After our return from our walk and a birthday breakfast of fried rice, Molly, Theo and I headed off to a mask carving class were we learned, with lots of help, how to take a tree branch and end up with a carved and recognizable figure 3 hours later.  Marmie and Dan encouraged us along when they arrived to watch the spectacle.

Feeling very accomplished with our new found talent for carving we went to lunch and then decided to do a bit of shopping.  As we were out and about the afternoon rains started in earnest and we ended up taking cover from the on-going downpour in a restaurant playing a couple hands of hearts.  As the rain dragged on we decided to go straight for an early dinner as we had a plane to catch at 11:00 p.m. for Australia.

OMG, is that beautiful young woman trying on the dress really Molly?!? How did she get so old?!?

Saying a sad goodbye to Marmie who is flying out tomorrow, we made our way out of the rice field for one last time and hopped in a van for our last drive through the chaotic Asian traffic feeling a bit ambivalent about moving on.  After over 5 months of visiting countries in what is referred to as the 3rd world we’re ready for being in a country that has the comforts and familiarity of the 1st world.  However, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time and experience in Asia and we’re sorry to leave this place that is so different and filled with new experiences, people, foods, weather and landscape.

The wait staff at our restaurant surprised Molly (and the rest of us!) with a piece of cake and a heartfelt birthday song. Then each one of them shook Molly's hand.

A very long night rounded out what ended up being an epic day as we flew through the night stopping first in Darwin before arriving in Brisbane at 10:00 a.m. the following morning.

A dubious end to an otherwise splendid birthday. Ahem...

Even our sleep deprived and muddled brains managed to note the humor in getting to stay up all night on your 12th birthday, not because your slumber party was such fun but because your crazy parents booked crazy flights!

(Lisa)  pictures to follow later today!

April 14

Having finally fallen asleep to the frog chorus we woke early with the roosters, followed closely by the snooze alarm of quacking ducks.  So much for the peace and quiet of the rice fields!  The early wake up call did give us plenty of time for a lovely run through the fields before breakfast though!

Today we headed to the Sacred Monkey Forest and I must say, we were not disappointed by the sheer number of monkeys!  The little buggers were everywhere and almost as aggressive as the touts by the volcano.

Soon after this picture one of the little buggers decided to take a ride on my shoulder

The forest is home to over 300 (but it felt like more) Balinese Macaques.  It is also home to three holy temples which were built during the mid-14th century.  Still in use by the local villagers we found the most interesting to be the cremation temple which sits alongside the graveyard.  We learned that in Balinese Hindu tradition people are buried for up to 4 years and then dug up and cremated, which is evidenced in the grave markers dating back no later than 2008.  While we don’t know the reason for this tradition it does make for very small graveyards which we speculate has something to do with it.

I can think of worse ways to try and wait out the rain

Just as the skies opened up we stopped in for lunch.  Seems to us that Bali has two possibilities when it comes to weather; either extremely hot or extremely rainy.  When the rain did not let up we decided to try and wait it out by getting a massage.  When that didn’t do it we made our way back through the rice fields in the rain and couldn’t help but laugh at the flip side of the charm of staying in a rice field — noisy critters and the inability to reach it in any way but on foot.


April 13 – Ubud, Bali

making our way through the rice fields

Today we moved the center of operations from Sanur to Ubud, the town widely considered to be the cultural capital of Bali.

A walk down a path and through a rice field brought us to our bed and breakfast.  Luckily, the manager showed up on a motor bike to both direct us and to pile our luggage onto the back, so we didn’t have to carry the whole shebang in the heat.

After settling in to our out of the way, yet charming lodging, we made our way back down the path to stroll through Ubud; visiting the palace, peeking into a couple of temples, poking around in the stores and finding a café with wifi to both have lunch and get our taxes filed in what we considered exceptional multi-tasking!

For dinner we made our way farther up the path and through the rice fields to an organic farm, thankful for our flashlights and amazed by the stars.  We ended the day catching some of the multitude of frogs that inhabit the rice fields and come out in the dark in force.

Can’t really speak to the cultural center label yet, but we sure enjoyed our first day in Ubud.

April 12


After yesterday’s very full agenda, Dan, Molly, Theo and I spent most of the day lounging around the pool, reading books, studying math and Latin (okay, I wasn’t studying either math or Latin, but Molly and Theo were) while Marion spent the day at a Deeksha retreat that serendipitously was taking place in Bali.

Ah for the blessing of a “free day.”

April 11 – Bali, the grand tour

After sitting through a performance that was billed as Bali dance but was obviously something of a comedic play judging by the reactions of the crowd of Indonesian teenagers that surrounded us, we were off for a day of sightseeing to visit some of the temples and sites that dot the Balinese countryside.

Our first stop was a cave thought to be a hermitage for 11th century Hindu priests fronted by a fountain that is thought to spout holy water.  As the guide book so aptly put it, “moderately interesting.”

Next, we followed a meandering stairway down into the valley of the sacred Pakrisan River to see the huge tomb-style memorials carved into the rocky walls rising up from the valley floor.  A bit like Petra in conception, the memorials were very impressive and the 11th century temple set next to them interesting to see.  However, the site is almost secondary to the beauty of the secluded valley surrounded by rice fields.

Holy water offering

After a very hot climb out back out of the valley we visited the Tampaksiring Water Temple, interesting mainly for the festival going on when we arrived.  The water of Tampaksiring is considered holy and it ends up that April 11 is one of the many festivals in celebration of the waters.  Many were gathered watching a play much like we had experienced earlier in the day but that we choose to not experience again.  More interesting to us were the lines of people up to their waste in water in one of the pools waiting in full traditional temple garb to approach one of the flowing spouts to make an offering and repeatedly immerse themselves in the flow.  Huge jugs were also being filled to be carried home.  While the temple itself was unspectacular, the festival surrounding it was wonderful to see.

As we observed the festival and enjoyed a picnic lunch next to a fish pond the weather changed from excruciatingly hot to overcast and rainy and it was in this rain that we arrived to see one of the most revered volcano’s on the island.  While the view was breathtaking it was unfortunately overshadowed by the extremely aggressive touts so we didn’t linger for long.

The view, the rain, somehow no touts in the picture

Our first view of the huge temple complex

Our final stop of the day was the Besakih Temple complex which sits on the slopes of Gunung Agung, the holiest and highest mountain on the island and is the biggest temple complex in Bali.  With over 20 temples spread over 3 kilometers the sheer scale of this place is impressive.  In fact the central temple alone has more than fifty separate structures which helps give an idea about the size of this complex.  The multi-tier shrine roofs were what I most noticed and enjoyed as we wandered the grounds.