Saturday, September 23, 2017

A day downtown

Back in Mumbai again, Cindy asked me if I wanted to go with her and a new teacher downtown for the day.  As we were driving over the Sealink she looked off to the left and asked about the Worli Fishing Village.  I think I was the only one who had been there - so we decided to make this our first stop.

Cindy did an amazing job of driving through the narrow streets and eventually finding us somewhere to park the car.  We wandered through the small lanes, coming across many interesting people.

Mumbai used to be made up of 7 separate islands, one of these being Worli.  The island was inhabited by the Kolis, a community of fisherfolk, who first came to the island around 1100 AD.  The name of Mumbai is derived from the Goddess Mumba, the Deity of the Kolis.

The Koli families are still involved in fishing - they go out to sea in the early morning and sometimes late at night using the Mahim Creek and the beach.  Their fishing boats moored up around the Sealink are quite picturesque.

A couple of years Chris Martin and Coldplay used the Worli Fishing Village as a location for their video.

After some time in the village we set off for Dhobi Ghat - the outdoor washing area of Mumbai.  Known as the world's largest open-air laundry, the washers (dhobis) work in the open to wash the clothes and linen from Mumbai's hotels and hospitals.  There are rows and rows of concrete wash pens, each with a "flogging stone" and rows and rows of washing lines where the clothes are hung to dry.

We carried on downtown for lunch to the Kala Ghoda area of town - here we ran into a child walking a tightrope.  We also visited the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales museum and looked at the lovely architecture of Mumbai University.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Campuhan Ridge Walk

On my final full day in Bali I decided to do the Campuhan Ridge Walk.  I set off after the early morning yoga class as I wanted to do as much of the walk as I could before the heat started to build up.  It's a fairly easy trek through beautiful scenery - and the hike is paved so it's easy to find and follow.  All along the ridge there are lovely views - in total the walk is 9 km.

Along the walk there are several small restaurants and guest houses.  I stopped at one for a fresh coconut.  The views across the fields and rice paddies were lovely!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Dali of Bali

One morning I decided to go to the Blanco Renaissance Museum, which was a short walk away from where I was staying in Ubud.  Antonio Blanco was certainly quite a character.  He was born in the Philippines to Spanish parents, studied at the National Academy of Art in New York, and arrived in Bali in the 1950s where he married a local dancer.  He build his home on the land he was given by the King of Ubud, and this is now a museum which contains lovely gardens, his studio, a temple and a Hindu pagoda.  The huge "statue" outside represents his signature.

The rooms inside the museum are extravagant with lots of bright colours.  Lots of Blanco's paintings, and some paintings of his son, are on display.  The frames that hold the paintings are also masterpieces.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Two temples and an active volcano!

After the rice and coffee, I continued to drive north from Ubud to the Holy Spring Temple.  This temple contains a bathing structure with sort of shower parts and people can go in and cleanse themselves spiritually (as well as physically).  Needless to say I didn't go in!

After that we headed north and stopped for lunch by Mount Batur.  This is an active volcano, yet many tourists hike up it.  Considering it's a 2 hour hike up, and anther 2 hour hike down,  I decided to pass on this and enjoyed a lovely buffet lunch instead.

We then headed on to the Besakih temple which is on the slopes of another volcano, Mount Agung - the highest point in Bali.  The volcano last erupted in 1963 and was one of the largest and most devastating in Indonesia's history.  My driver told me that his grandparents remember it but that his parents were not alive at the time - this definitely made me feel old!

The Besakih temple (known as the Mother Temple) is the most important, the largest and the holiest temple of the Hindu religion in Bali.  It's about 1000 metres up on the slope of the volcano and on the day I visited people were being evacuated from the area because it was thought the volcano was going to erupt.  In fact on the evening of that same day there was an earthquake measuring 5.7 which led to 75,000 people being moved off the slopes.

During the 1963 eruption which killed around 1700 people, the lava flowed just metres away from the temple complex.  The saving of the temple is regarded as miraculous by the Balinese people and they see it as a signal from their gods that they wished to demonstrate their power but not to destroy the monument that the people had erected to them.

The temple complex is made up of 23 temples built on 6 levels terraced up the slope.  The entrance is a very typical split gateway.  You can walk up the stairs to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that lead up to the mountain which is considered sacred.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rice and Coffee

On my 3rd day in Bali I went on a walk.  I went to a place called Sari Organik which I got to by walking through a little path through rice fields.  It was a lovely place - everything served in the restaurant was grown in the local farm.  A very relaxing day!

On my 4th day in Bali I was able to "borrow" the driver of one of the yoga ladies.  I decided to go to visit the volcano and also to the "mother temple" nearby.  On the way we stopped at some rice terraces and also at a coffee plantation.

The pride of this coffee plantation was the civet cat coffee.  This really gives a new meaning to cat-poo-ccino!  The civet cat snacks on coffee cherries, however it can't digest the stone (the coffee bean) and so it poos them out - which gives the beans a smooth, musky taste.   Well obviously this is not for everyone - so the plantation also produces other types of "regular" coffee and some teas as well.  I was given all the samples below, and the one I liked best was the vanilla coffee.  I bought a bag and have been drinking it every morning since.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Monkey Forest

As I was walking through the middle of Bali on my first day, I came across a road called Monkey Forest Road.  I followed it down to the forest, however didn't go in because it was already late afternoon and the gates were closing.  I decided this would be a good walk for the following day.

I started Day 2 in Bali with yoga.  The yoga place was open air and was in a beautiful old Balinese complex.  During my stay there I had 3 different yoga teachers and the first day was definitely the toughest.  However one of the nicest things about these classes was that I got to meet 2 Australian women, one of whom had been to Bali before and had a regular driver here.  She told me I could take her driver one day to explore parts of the island.

After yoga I had breakfast, then set off on the back road to the Monkey Forest.  There are about 650 monkeys who live in this forest - these are the Balinese long tail monkey.  Visitors are told not to feed the monkeys - though there were people selling bananas in the forest.  If you had food the monkeys jumped on you to get it (quite good if you wanted a photo with monkeys - otherwise a bit scary).  The monkeys live in groups and each group occupies a different territory.

The Monkey Forest is also home to 3 Hindu temples dating from the 1350s.  The main temple is known as the Great Temple of Death - here Shiva is worshipped.  There's also the Holy Spring temple and another one near the cemetery where bodies are buried awaiting a mass cremation ceremony that is held once every 5 years.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Beautiful Bali

In the September break I went to Bali.  There was a special cheap offer from Air Asia (though the flights were pretty horrible) and I was recommended a place to stay in Ubud by Jane who went to a yoga class there.  The cottages where I stayed were right opposite the yoga place, so it was very handy for me to do a class there every day.

On the first day I walked around Ubud to try to get my bearings.  I visited several temples and a museum which had some traditional Indonesian artwork.

The first place I went to was the Puri Lukisan Museum.  This is the oldest art museum in Bali.  There were 4 main buildings that specialised in various forms of traditional Balinese paintings and wood carvings.  

The museum was set in beautiful surroundings and had a very tranquil atmosphere.  After spending some time here I continued to walk up the main road to Ubud Palace, which is actually a temple that is famous for music and dancing. 

Ubud Palace, and the temple known as Puri Saren Agung were rebuilt after the 1917 earthquake and the royal family still lives here.

I found the stone carvings all around Ubud very beautiful and ornate.  The doorways were really spectacular.  After the palace I wandered through the local market, and even there everything was very intricate.  Ubud really is a lovely place!