May 12, 2015

a day around Bali

one of the men at the homestay set up a guide for a few of us to do a tour of some temples, volcanos and some other tourist stuff.  it was $40 for a car/driver for the day.

the volcano was spectacular but it didn't take long for me to get annoyed at the first temple we went to.  i hate when they charge you for access to a religious place.  then they charge you for a sarong which i felt was unnecessary because i was covered from my elbows to below my knees.  it's like selling tickets to get into St. Peters in the Vatican.  yeah, it was just a few dollars but i vowed it's the last time i'd pay for access to a religious site. 

the temple was on the crater rim and so made for a breathtaking view and we did have a good discussion with the driver/guide on the religious practices of the Balanese people.  every day, all day, you can see women carrying offerings to the temples.  they feel this provides balance between what they get from the gods and what they give. the Balanese seem happy and content and interested in welcoming visitors.

down inside the volcano are some hot springs so i let my annoyance at the temple melt away with the steam and enjoy how beautiful the moment was in a natural rock hot spring in Bali.  did i mention i'm the luckiest girl in the world?

they organize hikes up the volcano side for sunrise and had i'd known how spectacular it was i'd have tried to arrange that.  it's just a seven hour hike and they run trips out of Ubud but i didn't have the proper footwear and i have been nursing a sprained ankle for a few days.  something to do on my next trip to Bali.  inside the crater are old lava flows and multiple new cones but this volcano is considered dormant.

next up on the tour is the rice terraces.  for whatever reason UNESCO has given the terraces some kind of recognition as being culturally important.  so on the side of the hill opposite the rice terraces is a half kilometer of shops and restaurants.  it feels like a manufactured tourist site... like those 'factories' you get stuck going to on an organized tour.  i say it's okay to skip this site.  it made me think of what a lost opportunity there is in the mid west.  if only UNESCO would call a corn field important, we could set up some bars and shops in the middle of a field and make a lot of money letting tourists watch the corn grow.  you could probably even charge extra to let them harvest some of the corn.

anyway, we ate lunch on a lovely platform in the middle of the rice fields and this huge toad hopped up for a visit.  i think this is the largest toad i've ever seen in my life.  bigger than both my fists put together.

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