On Motorbikes in Bali

It's true what they say about Bali. 
In spite of its popularity - there's something gentle and special about the place. 

They built the airport in 1960. 

Although tourism arguably started back in the 1600's, 
the airport still had a major impact. 

And - yet... 

We saw no beaches. 
No resorts. No hotels. 

Not many tourists.

We stayed in a traditional old house “Rumah Antik” in a Balinese village.
Sembuwuk, with a lovely Balinese family.

When we went out for a walk in the village, 
people stopped to ask where we were from. 
Where we were staying. 

They’re very curious. 

Everyone knows everyone else.

The white on the roads is the remains of the sheets of drying rice. Stan waits for me at the bottom of the village.

Gardens are filled with little shrines.
Each is dedicated to a different manifestation of a particular deity.

In fact, some gardens are quite crowded with shrines.
Full of local and ancestral gods.

You'd hate to offend a deity who might be helpful.

We rented motorbikes. Our host Gusti brought them to the garden. 
We set off through the rice fields and villages to explore the countryside.
We stopped for lunch along the way.

We weren't even sure if it was a restaurant. 
They grew vegetables and fruits. 

They didn’t speak English, but the food was delicious.

Bali has splendid natural beauty. 

Volcanoes and rice terraces. 

Spice farms and coffee plantations.

Foggy calderas and torrential rainstorms.

Waterfalls, caves, stone carvings and gargoyles. 
Incense, painted ceilings and calligraphy. 

Rice drying on narrow roads. 

Huge forests of bamboo, filled with colorful butterflies.

The frequent favorite - Ganesh.

Yes, we spent a morning in Ubud, with its Serenity Spas and Yoga Barns and Meditation Centers and chic boutique hotels and upscale shops and motorcycles and traffic and tourists and cafes and restaurants and guys holding “Taxi” signs and it’s all quite noisy and crowded. 

Luckily, we first went the wrong way, and walked through a local part of town, which was quite enjoyable. We visited temples and museums and had the necessary de-tox fruit shakes, but after lunch, I was ready to leave.

For me, Bali was offerings, towering fruit plates on women's heads. 

Small banana leaves with sticky rice in front of every home, shop or statue.

This offering was found on a wooden footbridge. To appease the trolls? 

Often, the streets were filled with processions.

Lots of drums and special clothing. 

Festivities, long skinny villages with thousands of hanging penjors.

A lot of islands have good beaches - but - not many have this. 

Women in handmade ikat sarongs with colorful sashes. 
Men in long skirts, with small pointed hats. 

We were also required to wear a sash entering holy places.

Penjors - made of braided palm leaves - line every street.

There are 4 castes in Bali - people's names often denote their caste. 
Or their position in the family, regardless of gender.

 "Wayan" means first born.

There are names for first, second, third and fourth born. 

If there is a fifth child, he or she is called Wayan Balik, or Wayan Again!

There are no last names, but everyone gets a new name after they die.

Our host, Gusti Made - "Second-born leader of Wasya caste".  And Stan.

In the afternoons, it RAINED.
Not like New Mexico.

In 30 seconds, drenched.

On motorcycles?
VERY drenched.

After visiting a number of other islands in Indonesia, we returned briefly to Bali on our way north. The second time, we rented yet another beautiful villa, nearer town. It was CRAZY beautiful, so we barely left home.

Very welcome after some of the more primitive places we've stayed in on other islands. 

We TOTALLY enjoyed the luxury. 

Bali is a Hindu island. 
It's different. 

Most Indonesian islands are Moslem. 

No sticky rice offerings. 
No decorations or temples. 
No colorful towers of fruit on women's heads.

We never even SAW one of the famous Bali beaches.

At a civet cat coffee farm in the highlands. 

So - our Bali Experience may have been unusual.

Still - that's okay.
I wouldn't have changed it.