Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Balinese Thanksgiving

If you cannot be home with the family on Thanksgiving, then spending time with a bunch of friends on an Indonesian island is still a good option.  That is why me and 11 of my co-workers decided to take off after school on Wednesday and fly to Bali, where we stayed in a beautiful villa near the beach.  It was a wonderful getaway from the Urban Jungle of Singapore, and plus it allowed me to strengthen my Bahasa vocabulary!

The first day the group just lounged around our local beach for most of the day.  I tried surfing but was only able to catch one wave as the waves were pretty small and spotty, but we still had a good time.  That night we went to a Hindu temple called Tanah Lot that is on the coast and was a BEAUTIFUL place to watch the sunset.  After the sunset, we walked over to watch this "cultural fire dance".  With thought this meant that people were going to be dancing with fire, so we were supremely let down when we discovered it was just a group of people doing an Indonesian form of beat-boxing around a few candles while some ladies with stoic faces and a few guys with weird masks danced and acted out a story.  However, it got more interesting when the monkey-god, died on my lap and then some type of headdress was placed on my head and I was handed a giant foam sword with the instructions to go fight Rama (one of the gods).  The play ended with Rama shooting a bow and arrow at me and with me dying.  Considering it was my first theatrical performance, I would say it went pretty well.  I may just have a fall back plan now in case this whole teaching thing doesn't work out!

The next day we went to a town called Ubud (To my family: it is in the 1001 Places to See Before You Die book, so I can finally sign off on one that nobody else has been to!).  It is known for it's art and crafts and has a pretty large market for shopping.  Haggling and bargaining was the best part.  It was so easy, that I felt I got ripped off if I paid more than half price for anything.  After shopping for a few hours, we went to the near by Monkey Temple.  This is another Hindu temple (their are over 15,000 in Bali) that has hundreds of monkeys that roam the temple completely wild.  These monkeys were very playful and would climb over any visitor that had food or water.  With a false since of security, I was finally able to coax one to climbing on me.  The next thing I know I had two or three climbing on me, and since I didn't have any food they began to bite me!  Only one of the bites really left a mark, and the workers at the temple cleaned it for me and assured me that there was no rabies.  But lesson learned: monkeys may look cute, but they are greedy and evil!  We made one more stop one the way home to look at the terraced rice fields in Ubud, which were pretty despite all the rice having just been harvested.

For the last day, most of our group left early in the morning to go on a day cruise and do some snorkeling. Me and a few others just felt like having the day to lounge around and just chill. We went to a different nearby beach that someone had told us about and the waves there were MUCH better!  The only problem was I didn't have my wallet to rent a surf board.  However, I was lucky enough to make friends with a couple sitting near by and they let me borrow theirs for a few minutes.  The rest of the day was spent lounging around our villa, watching a beautiful sunset, and then having a Balinese dinner cooked at our villa by a private chef.  All in all, a great day.

Now I am back in Singapore, drinking a tall glass of reality, and preparing myself for the remaining three weeks until I fly home for Christmas.

 Sunset at Tanah Lot

Me at Tanah Lot 

My acting debut

 James photographing the Ubud Market

 A monkey (not the one that bit me)

 Terraced Rice Fields

Sunset from our Villa

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