Arriving in Bali, rather dazed and confused after a long visa-legitimising journey via KL from Medan (N Sumatra), we were greeted by this spectacular view from our Villa. The new (and final) resting spot of Monicofamilytravels is surrounded by the best of Bali, with adjacent padi fields so green they make our eyes hurt, further bounded by dense natural jungle.
Our location is away from the main
tourist areas, and as the only rental villa in the village, and one thats new-to-market, we are a curiosity to the locals, and they couldn’t be more friendly and helpful. As ever this opportunity to get a bit deeper into the local culture than would otherwise be possible during a regular vacation is exactly what we strive for during our longer stays.
On our first night we went out to a fun local restaurant as an official celebration of my final signing of the contract for my new job (COO for Founders Pledge). We ate on a pavilion overhanging a lake seething with koi carp, and watched the sun do down with some lurid cocktails and mocktails!
After a good feed, we had our first play on some Balinese bamboo instruments. The left hand one is a rindik, the right hand one….. we never found out.
The biggest excitement of the week, after much anticipation, was the arrival of Sarah (or Great Aunt Sarah, or Godmother Sarah). She embraced riding of the resident unicorn with great gusto.
Bali is a land abundant with art and artists, so we decided to try our hand at batik as our exploratory effort in a creative direction. We found ourselves a workshop in this glorious local house.
Step one was to fill this little handmade wooden instrument full of molten beeswax….
and then to drizzle the wax over pre-drawn lines on our fabric.
It was mostly quite easy if you kept a steady hand, but ‘blobbing’ was a bit of a hazard when the instrument had just been refilled.
Once we had traced all the lines it was time for tea!
Stage 2 was to fill in all the areas you don’t want the dye to take with a paraffin wax.
This process was definitely less fiddly than the first!
Then we got to scrumple up our works of art, and Bella and Emily donned some unfeasibly large gloves to dip the fabrics in the dyes of our choice.
After a quick boiling/cleaning process, here are the finished articles!
Our one disappointment of the afternoon was the abundance of caged birds around the house. This one kept doing somersaults of frustration, and we just felt like freeing him!
Sarah was very gung ho and visited various local warungs (small family owned restaurants) with us. This particular one was somewhat daunting as it had a Babi (pig) specialty, and a set menu which involved about 7 different small dishes each featuring a different element of pig. Everyone still smiling below……before the food arrived. It was actually delicious if you stopped wondering exactly anatomical element was currently in your mouth!
Upon driving around the wider Ubud area, our hearts broke regularly for the hordes of mangy, pitiful-looking dogs that roam the streets. The majority of dogs here have a place to which they ‘belong’ but this is not ownership in the Western context. A Bali dog may ‘belong’ to a family, community, temple or business, but this does not mean that the people involved will necessarily give food or water or otherwise assume responsibility for its care. While there are plenty that look healthy and happy, many Bali dogs have no choice but to scavenge food from rubbish dumps and temple offerings.
More sinister, there has been a rise of rabies in the country, and the rabies-related deaths of 15 Balinese people led to yet another mass eliminations of dogs in the autumn of 2015 and raised questions about the coexistence of dogs and humans on the island. This practice of culling (vs vaccination) is having an impact on the local Bali dog breed. Though genetically related to the Australian Dingo, Chow Chow and Akita, the Bali dog is unique. At the start of the rabies outbreak in 2008, the dog population in Bali was estimated to be approximately 600,000, and but fallen to 100,000 today.
The girls were keen to see what we could do to help local dogs, so we spent an afternoon at the BARC (Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation centre) HQ. We heard some horrifying stories of neglect from the wonderful staff there, and got the chance to cuddle the (very clean and friendly) dogs, as well as take a few of them for a walk.
This (below) is Lady. She was SOOOOOO skinny, but SOOOOO cute. I better not join the next trip to BARC, as I might just not resist bringing her home with us.
On our way home we stopped in spontaneously at a colourful local festival:
Walking the streets we were saddened to see so many shops selling songbirds. We had learned from our time at Mahi Mahi how these rare birds are trapped in the forrest for this purpose, and many are now endangered.
Back in territory where I can wear shorts again, I’ve restarted my early morning runs, although I have to say I have been a bit put off by all the rabies scares as we decided against that big bummer of a butt jab! Whenever I make it though the morning views hit the spot as ever!
Having our own pool, and consistently warm weather has been a huge treat.
I did however see this squiggly guy swimming across our pool on day 2 and was mildly freaked out until I established that he is just a rice field snake, and only ‘mildly venomous’. He also likes to hang out in the gazebo, and while I put on a very calm face in front of the girls when he shows up, I’ll be honest and say tend to choose the garden loungers these days…..
And having our fridge full of fresh coconuts grown in our garden and picked by the amazing Augus is an incredible treat! We are all excited to make the most of bounteous Bali!