So this is Bali. We made it to Sanur, which is on the east coast of the southern peninsula of Bali, and have found paradise. More on this later though, lets get you caught up on last week. We spent our first 12 days here in Kuta due to its proximity to the airport and good hotel selection. We wanted to get our bearings and be able to rest up and make our plans for the rest of this leg of our journey. Since my last post, a lot has happened. First off, let me say that the Balinese people are some of the most genuine and friendly hosts I have ever encountered in my travels. Even in Kuta, which is a very chaotic place, the locals are willing to go out of their way to talk to you and help in any way. Quick to flash a smile and a "selamat pagi" - good morning, or "selamat siang" - good afternoon. I have never felt so welcome in a place that is foreign to me. The crime rate is extremely low here due to the belief in karma...a great way to lead ones life and something I try to follow on a daily basis.
A couple days after arriving in Bali the super moon was happening (which I had forgotten about), MJ and I were lucky enough to witness a beach procession of Krishna's (Hare Krishna) celebrating the event. They marched and danced and sang their way down the beach inviting anybody to join them as they went. It was easy to get caught up in the moment. The Krishna movement sometimes gets a bad rap, but I have found them to be pretty cool. They know who they are and are unapologetic about their beliefs which may seem foreign to most. They are welcoming of outsiders, but not aggressive. They have massive amounts of love for each other and those not part of the movement.
While at Kuta beach, MJ and I of course went searching for a bar to hang out at and enjoy the company of others- we found that the small bars that dot the beaches to be perfect. They are nothing more than a cooler full of beer, a couple chairs and some umbrellas. Each "bar" is run by a local who has licensed their spot so you can always count on your bar to be in the same place, which is good because there are so many and they tend to blend together. Teo was the owner of the one we found. The first night there we were short on cash (still getting accustomed to the values of money there, as the US dollar is worth 14 times as much as their currency). He graciously told us to pay next time, trusting us to come back- which we did for the rest of our time in Kuta.
As I am writing this post, it is 730 am in Sanur. I know this not because we have a clock in the house (we do not), but because the students are arriving at the elementary school right next door to us. This is amusing because we also had a elementary school next door at the hotel in Kuta. So far the schools seem very different. The One in Kuta was a constant source of noise, so much so that i wondered if it was a daycare or a school, If they weren't singing they were screaming. The school here in Sanur is much more sedate, as if actual instruction is being delivered. I wonder if the other school was government vs private? Could the government schools focus more on social skills to prepare students for the largest job sector? (hospitality accounts for 80% of employment in Bali).
MJ and I were able to explore some of the southern peninsula this week, and I really wanted to visit Pandang Padang in Uluwatu. In addition to having some of the worlds greatest surf breaks, the area is home to one of the largest and most important temples, Pura Luhur (the Sea Temple). It stands on the edge of a cliff that drops 300 feet to the sea. The temple is dedicated to Sang Hyang Widhi Was in his manifestation as Rudra (a storm god and embodiment of wildness and unpredictable danger). The site is also home to thousands of monkeys, notorious for snatching visitors belongings. They typically can be persuaded to give up their find for fruit or candy but not always. While we were there we saw one steal the sandals from a visitor...when they tried to trade for a candy bar the monkey took both and ran! The temple was a truly beautiful place and a nice stop off on our way to Padang Padang, where we will be spending our last two weeks in Bali. I am hoping the ocean swell lives up to its legend when we come back as the waves were pretty tame on the day we visited. The town is small and quirky though, just the way we like it!