Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Oct 2012: Learning to go with the flow

The Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, in Denpasar.
7 Oct 2012:
Upon arrival at Ngurah Rai, Bali's International airport, we spent time looking for our guide near the guide meeting point. There were a lot of people who were also waiting for their guide or designated drivers at the airport. It would take a trained pair of eyes to find their designated guide or drivers in the crowd.

Thankfully, after close to half-an-hour, I noticed our guide who was carrying a piece of paper that bears my full name. Our tour group is made up of my friend and I, and a couple. There were four of us in the tour group. We were greeted and welcomed by our guide who led us to a van.

Our tour was to start immediately. That is perhaps the best thing about taking up a tour package. If I were visiting Bali on my own without a tour package, I would prefer to get myself settled into the hotel before making way to explore the locality.

On our journey on the van, our guide who spoke in English shared with us about the general demographics of Bali. I learnt that the better times to visit Bali were from May to August. The wet season in Bali will usually start from 20th October to December, so these would be months to avoid unless one loves the rain.

Religions in Bali
We had our first-hand experience of religions in Bali when we visited Pura Jagat Natha Nusa Duar. I learnt that the official religion in Bali is Hindu. Bali's version of Hinduism is different from the version that is practised by Indian Hindus. This special version of Hinduism can be traced to the great Majapahit Hindu kingdom that once ruled Indonesia and had evacuated to Bali as Islam spread across the region. Unlike the other parts of Indonesia, Islam is a minority religion in Bali.

Pura Jagat Natha Nusa Dua.

At Pura Jagat Natha Nusa Dua, we learnt that the colours black and white are intended to symbolize evil and good respectively.

Pura Jagat Natha Nusa Dua.

Near Pura Jagat Natha Nusa Dua were a few other religious buildings. We saw one Catholic church, one Islamic mosque, a Christian church and a Buddhist temple located on the same row as the Hindu Pura Jagat Natha Nusa Dua temple.

A mosque near Pura Jatha Natha Nusa Dua.

Nyang Nyang beach
Our next stop was at Nyang Nyang beach. Here, I was treated to a nice sea breeze from a high attitude. The beach lies many feet below. I found the monkeys at the place rather amusing. They seem to be finding ways to make life more interesting for themselves.

Here, we were treated to pisang goreng, which is banana that has been dipped in a batter and fried.

Nyang Nyang Beach and the interesting monkeys.

We were treated to pisang goreng near this fountain.

Pura Ulu Watu Temple
I learnt that this temple is officially known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu. "Lulur" means "of divine origin". "Ulu" means "land's end" while "watu" meants "rock".

Ulu Watu. This place reminds me of Watsons Bay in Sydney.

Located at the southern point of Bali, this ancient temple is one of the most spectacular on the island of Bali. It is possibly spectacular because of how it is perched on a steep and fascinating cliff that is 70 metres above the Indian ocean. Entry to the temple is available for a fee, which was included in the tour package. It was quite breathtaking to catch a glimpse of this temple from a distance.

Ulu Watu.

From my reading of online information, the temple was said to have been expanded by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan in the 11th century. Subsequently, another sage, Dang Hyang Nirartha, is credited for constructing the padmasana shrines. The only thing was that my tour guide did not explain these to me. When I attempt to ask, I had difficulties communicating with him.

Look harder and you may see monkeys hiding around.

This is one place to keep a very close grip on our belongings and to stow away the eyeglasses. No thanks to the monkeys who are known to snatch the visitors' belongings. Our tour guide had specifically requested that I remove my spectacles. However, it was challenging to see without my glasses so I had them put up while guarding them carefully against the monkeys.

The wooden drum is known as the Kukul.

Spectacular sights at Ulu Watu.

The missed visits to Taman Ayun Temple, Gallery Duty Free shop and Matahari shopping mall
Originally, according to the itinerary, we were supposed to visit the Taman Ayun Temple, Gallery Duty Free shop and Matahari shopping mall that day. However, we did not get to visit these places during this tour to Bali. The couple that was in our tour group was too exhausted to explore Bali, let alone visiting the shopping mall. The initial plan was to make up for the changes in itinerary on another day. However, due to schedule issues, we were not able to visit these places during this tour.

The learning point from the missed visits was to learn to go with the flow. I had attempted to explore if we could cover these places on other days, however, it seemed not feasible with due considerations of traffic conditions and operating hours of these places. I have learnt to be more flexible even when it comes to attending a group tour. On the positive side, this meant changes can be made with the tour so long as there is mutual agreement between the parties involved.

Thankfully, on the whole, the tour package did bring us to a number of beautiful places that had left me a generally positive experience of Bali and the tour package itself.

In the meantime, please stay tune for more on my trip to Bali if you are interested for more.


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