Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Bali.

March 11: Our weekend excursions…

Posted in Bali on March 13, 2012

The weekend is here - NO GRAVEL!! Our first day off finds us getting up for breakfast as usual at 7:00am - no sleeping in, but we're all keen and raring to go - snorkeling, that is. We were expecting alternate drivers this morning as the wedding is today, however Wayan and our other regular driver appeared to take us to the snorkeling site at Menjangan Island (Deer Island). Wayan and his team have been remarkably generous and helpful with their time. We really didn't expect to see them this morning.

We have found many things here that have amazed and fascinated us but a common theme keeps arising - traffic! At times it's absolutely unbelievable. This morning, on the way to Menjangan Island we were trucking along a bit of a bend in the road, a slight hill and a solid line on the road. We looked up to see a huge truck coming towards us in his lane and a bus (Greyhound size) coming straight at us in our lane, we squeezed over, and I mean squeezed, to allow him by only to find 5 more of the same size buses, interspersed with various and sundry scooters, motorbikes & cars, following right behind. Nobody stopped, everyone kept moving. The only thing out of the ordinary was that no scooters were passing us on the inside!  I've come to believe that the Balinese (and now us) are part feline.  They/we must have 9 lives. I'm afraid there aren't too many left. I've also figured out the rules of the road here. Drive on the center line, keep no more than 18-24 inches away from the vehicle in front of you, pass other vehicles at every possible opportunity and scuttle over to your own lane only when absolutely necessary. Not much snoozing in the van!

Once we got to the site we arranged for the boat ride to island and rented snorkeling gear, surprisingly good quality gear. We headed off in two boats with two guides. The skies were quite overcast and that combined with the ocean breezes made it the most comfortable day we have had so far. As soon as we docked we were greeted with the sight of a deer grazing near the beach completely unfazed by our presence. Soon we were in the water gliding over the reef surrounded by gorgeous fish. Dale and Gino are seasoned snorkelers, Lynn, Tom and Pat have had some experience and Jerry and I haven't snorkeled since we were in our early teens. Rina and Cheryl were the newbies. The guides were terrific, holding the girls' hands and guiding them along. It was a fabulous experience. In Rina's words "Boat ride to Deer Island: 155,000 Rupiah ($17); snorkeling gear rental: 40,000 Rupiah ($4.50); the experience and a guide to hang onto: priceless. Totally against Balinese culture, Rina gave the guide a kiss on the cheek when she returned to shore.

During our picnic lunch on the beach we noticed 6 or 8 boats arrive full of Hindu people all dressed in their finest. We were curious to know what was going on. We had about an hour to kill before to boats headed back so Dale and Gino went off snorkeling again while some of the rest of us decided to explore along the path that the Hindus had taken. We came across a small outdoor temple where a Hindu ceremony was taking place. After a short and respectful pause to watch the ceremony we continued along the path. We found ourselves at the head of the procession going to the next temple. At that temple there was a group of 3 large deer sitting just outside the gates. The worshipers quickly whipped out their cell phones and cameras to take pictures of the deer before heading into the temple. Tourists, just like us! We were told that we couldn't go further down the path (I think we weren't dressed appropriately) so we turned back. Jerry and I stopped again at the first temple to watch the ceremony with another group of worshipers. We lingered quite a while and were quite moved by the experience especially the chanting.

Time for the return to the mainland. The ride was choppier and we got wetter but neither Lynn nor Rina had any motion sickness problems. Then back to the hotel for pool and Bintang. Dinner at the local Muslim restaurant was interesting but not outstanding - oh well!

Sunday found us all sleeping in and then heading off in different directions. Not surprisingly we all bumped into each other in downtown Negara shopping at the only large supermarket but also exploring lots of smaller shops and the outdoor "everything" market. Lynn and Dale managed to take the pony taksi in both directions but I pity the poor pony - Dale is bigger than I am. I bet the pony was running on 2 legs not 4.

Guess what? Back to the hotel for pool and Bintang! A bunch of us spent some time preparing craft projects for the kids next week. All in all, a lovely relaxing day was had by all. Back to the gravel tomorrow morning.

Talk to you soon.

Paul Hope
DWC Participant
Bali, March 2012

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