Only 5 weeks after my return from Bali, and I am finally getting to the second part of my blog. Ah well…you know what they say (insert your favorite cliche here).
After morning yoga, and a lovely send off from the hotel in Munduk, we were off to Pemutaren. This was about a 2 hour drive from Munduk, taking us to the beach. We arrived at our hotel, and were given freedom to lounge.
We stayed in little cottages that lined either side of the above image. Each cottage had a lovely front porch, and wonderful outside bathrooms. Every bathroom should be outside. However, as mentioned in a previous blog entry, I find it extremely important to put glasses on before I go to the bathroom in an unfamiliar location. James warned us to hide our soap because something (we weren’t told what) may try to eat it. Julie and I decided to put our soap in a zip lock bag at night. I was very curious as to what (or WHO!) might want to eat soap. Every night there was a different creature in the bathroom. One night I tripped over a snail (with my glasses on – it blended in with the floor), another night there was a lizard, another night I saw a frog, and who knows what else. After a leisurely first day at the beach (and yoga), we were prepped for the following day’s adventure: snorkeling! I have been snorkeling…once. I went snorkeling in 1994 in the Florida Keys with my college roommate, Katie. My memories of that experience were that I practically hyperventilated when I jumped in the water until Katie shouted (repeatedly), “Mary! Put your face in the water! Just put your face in the water!” When I finally did what Katie said, and put my face in the water, I remember being so impressed by the silence and the beauty of what was beneath me. I was in for a treat.
Our morning started as all others did: coffee/tea, yoga, breakfast. Then we were off to West Bali National Park. We got our gear, and then divided up onto 3 boats, and made our way to the park.
I liked the start of this snorkeling experience better than my first, because we walked into the water. It was a good way for me to ease in. I did request a “buddy,” because I really do not like it when I cannot see what is underneath me. I thought it was beautiful. The colors were wonderful, and the variety of creatures was interesting. Everyone raved about it after we were done, but I am not a seasoned snorkeler, so I asked our Hawaiian (Cha) to tell me what she thought about it. Here is what Cha said:
“The reefs we saw off the coast of Pemuteran were totally pristine. They did not reflect human impact at all, i.e.,siltation, toxic chemicals, or even bleaching (a climate change impact on many reefs). They are comparable to wild/unspoiled reefs in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands monument (Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument) and to Australia’s Great Barrier Reefs.Some of the reefs here in the main Hawaiian Islands, while beautiful and somewhat varied, cannot compare to the level of diversity and vibrance of the reef life we were treated to in Bali.”
Thanks, Cha. I think that sums it up quite nicely.
James offered us the option of going on a 5:30 (AM!) boat ride to watch the sun rise. I thought it was a nice idea, but again, I had no idea what I was in for. We took three fishing boats out into the water. We were instructed that this adventure was to be a silent one. No questions, no comments, no talking at all. We rode out in to the water…way out…probably a 30 minute boat ride.
At that point, the motors were shut off. We watched the sun rise. It was amazing – just a big ball of fire slowly sliding up the the sky.
Kari (our Balinese guide) said it was the best sunrise he has ever seen. That was a wonderful sight, but the best was yet to come. The boat driver asked if we wanted to go a bit further to see dolphins. He said that they like the sun (matahari), and we just needed to go out about another 20 or 30 minutes. James and the boat drivers were texting back and forth to coordinate this, and it was a go. Wouldn’t you know it…a school/herd/pod/team of dolphins began jumping along side of us and following us. Kari clapped and said, “Bagus!” (very good), and the dolphins kept it up.
That was quite something. The rest of the day was ours to adventure on our own. Some of the group went snorkeling, some went on a hike to temple, and I decided to sit by the water and flip around in the pool like an 8 year old. You know what they say…(I prefer the “When in Rome” cliche here). This was our last day at the beach. That evening we were treated to a lovely feast and puppet show.
This was shadow puppet show, and it to call it that really doesn’t do the art form justice. The puppeteer is a very respected job, and it is getting harder to find someone who knows this art. The puppets are carved out of wood, and they are extremely intricate. A moral or lesson is acted out in old Javanese (a language few people speak). I had a hard time following along, but it was fun to listen to and watch.
When the puppet show was over, we were invited to stay to watch the puppeteer give the offering. We were also permitted to take part in the blessings and purification. We approached the puppeteer (who is a priest as I understand it) and we had to take water to our head 11 times, drink the water (put it to our lips) 11 times, then wash our face (splash the water on our face)11 times. This was an introduction of what was to come when we went to temple later that week. It was very interesting to take part in the ceremony, and so wonderful that we were allowed to participate. Even the Australian (who sort of crashed our party) joined in. He (the Australian) reported to me the next day (after he told me that he was sorry he couldn’t join our yoga class), that he might have gotten our drivers drunk on the alcohol he brought. There are lots of Australians who come to Bali. Lots. It is very close, and easy to fly to. The Australian told me that Australian men go to Bali to marry a Balinese woman so they can buy property in Bali. I am fairly certain that was his goal that trip. We left after yoga that morning. Next stop…Ubud.