A long while back my mom had mentioned that she had two confirmed tickets to fly anywhere Delta flies. This is a treat for those of us who have spent years traveling stand-by. Confirmed tickets!? I claimed them and told her that she had to let me be the one she took!
But months and even years passed and we never had a time that was working for us to go.
The expiration date on those tickets started approaching so we had to pick a time and a place. There were places on my bucket list that my mom of course had already gone. Since I was just happy to be going anywhere at all I told her to pick the location from the next three places on HER bucket list. So as random as it may seem to some of you (she had already been to China, on an African safari, to Australia...you get the idea), Bali it was.
So I think an exotic, exciting trip to the other side of the planet was a good reason to miss three of my kids performances *gulp*.
Off we went!
What a blessing for our longest flight was got Business class that has fully reclining seats! I have never slept so well on a plane!
We got to Singapore in the middle of the night and we were planning on heading out into Singapore for our long layover. That turned out to not be possible, so we toured around the airport instead. And let me tell you, this is one incredible airport! Indoor ponds, amazing art, a terrace of sunflowers, movie theaters, swimming pools, a hotel, and on and on. We made the most of our layover in Singapore before heading to Bali.
Our first night we stayed in this gorgeous oasis!
The next night we moved into another amazing place. This time is was a Home-Stay, like a Bed-and-Breakfast, with the cutest little Balinese family!
Despite a 14 hour time difference and serious jet lag, we hit Bali running that night by seeing a typical dance and chanting show. This ain't no Bali-wood routine here people! This is serious, pure Bali stuff! And it was amazing!
Kecak dance performed by many male dancers. A whole lot of chanting/singing.
The next day we got to see and learn even more about their culture with,
more Bali Dancing - Barong dance represents the eternal battle between good and evil.
the magic of making sarongs. What a labor intensive and captivating process! This is the original and unique to Bali Batik. These ladies draw with wax by hand on each piece of fabric. Dye the fabric then start over on the same fabric. Repeating over and over again with wax and color until you get the perfect and unique piece or wearable art.
The breathtaking artwork, the painstaking jewelry making
and the hand carved art pieces.
We made our way to what is known as the Mother Temple of Besakih. This is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion on Bali. The timing was perfect. We arrived just as a worship service was getting out. This was a special service as everyone was wearing white sarongs. What a spectacle! What a beautiful spectacle!
It was intriguing to learn a bit about the intricacies of this culture and religion.
Then we went to another temple - Titra Empul - where they do their washings and purification in the holy water. Another interesting temple to see!
Somewhere along the line we heard about these fruit that are well loved in Bali: The Durian Fruit. We heard it was a gamble as most foreigners don't like it. But naturally we had to try it! So we stopped by a street vendor and purchased one.
My mom's face almost says it all. This is the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten in my life. EVER. The only way to explain the taste and texture is to compare it to what I would imagine eating a dead, rotting body would be like. I couldn't finish my piece, and we certainly couldn't finish the entire Durian. Our cabbie was more than happy to take the rest home to his family; and we got to smell the "rotting flesh" wafting in from the trunk the rest of the day.
We did try some other new things that weren't to appalling.
We had also hear of a fruit that looks like snake skin - Salak. We found some at another vendor and gave that a try. This one was way better, and weird enough, the peel looks and feels exactly like snake skin!
But nothing was a great at the fresh papaya and fresh squeezed watermelon juice!
We say many beautiful rice terraces along our drives, which as you can see are works of art all on their own!
Another temple, but as unique as all the others we had seen was Gunung Kawi with it's 10 rock-cut shrines. Magnificent!
And another amazing rock carved shrine was Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave. It had beautiful grounds surrounding this small cave shrine.
There were many temples we didn't visit, not to mention the hundreds of temples that we drove past - as every village and every HOME has their own temple! Each is unique and beautiful and impossible to capture on film.
Of course we couldn't miss the famous Monkey Forest. We loved it so much we went a few times. It was so close to our Home-Stay that we couldn't help ourselves!
Talk about a trip? All these wild monkey's that literally attack you if you have ANYTHING resembling food.
It was all fun and games until I got bit by one!!! Luckily he didn't break the skin or I could have come home with Herpes B or Rabies as a souvenir!
But look at how spectacular this monkey forest is!
One morning we work up at about 3 am to head to the base of Mount Batur where we hiked to the top of it's active volcano. And by "hike" I mean me pushing my nearly blind, *old (*see title of post) mother up the entire mountain. Our hiking guides helped pull from above and as a team we got her to the top without killing her. She was a serious trouper. She's one tough Grandmere. But seriously, mom, I think your days of hiking volcanos are over!
We got to the top in the still pitch dark. We started to freeze from our sweat exerted bodies, but were able to warm up and rejuvenate our tired muscles with a glass of delicious hot chocolate. It was a relatively short wait for the point to the entire trek - to behold a spectacular sunrise!!!
Thanks mom for appeasing my one request of the trip. Something adventurous! Then a hike back down through the clouds to the van.
We relaxed one afternoon at the black beaches of Bali. These black beaches are way better than the ones I'd been to in Hawaii. This sand is soft and subtle and sparkling!!
We swam, made sand castles, and goofed off for awhile. And I was finding black sand in everything for awhile after that!
As luck would have it our trip was planned smack-dab in the middle of a Balinese holiday! Galungan marks the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies. We watched the Bali people work on their Penjours all week, and the hoist them up on Galugan. Each one different. Each one beautiful. I compared them to our Christmas trees. Everyone had one, and each one symbolized something sacred and meaningful to them.
We spent some time that day walking the streets and taking in the beauty of their culture.
We also went to the local temple to witness the worship services of the day.
I admire their dedication to their beliefs. Though this day's worship was a bit more special, they pray daily as a village and as a family. I respect that.
Our last day in Bali we headed to Tanelot, which is a temple on a "floating island." A lot like Mont Saint Michele it becomes an island as the tide rises and falls throughout the day.
We relaxed and even had a delicious dinner as we waited for the sun to set behind this awesome temple.
We headed home with a nearly full day lay-over in Singapore. So naturally we checked our bags and headed out on a serious tourist marathon of Singapore. We ran, literally, for most of the day from one site to another - which was no small feat considering it was like 200% humid and like 500*! Ok I'm exaggerating *slightly. But man I wished I could have been wearing something different!
We started out on the subways then quickly abandoned them for the streets so we could see more as we made our way around town!
Temples and mosques, and strange futuristic buildings, and fountains, and colors! It was a very full day!
At one point we were going to cut through a botanical garden called Gardens by the Bay that I think was still under development.
This Garden alone made me want to move to Singapore and let my kids play there every week!
And then in the garden we came up these weird man-made trees! Unlike anything I have ever seen! Breathtaking during the day and hypnotizing at night - with a choreographed music/light show to go with it!
Also unreal were the Domes. And I truly have no way of getting anyone to even slightly grasp the magnitude, magnificence and extraordinariness of these three Domes we went into.
One replicates a mild, dry climate and features plants found in the Mediterranean and other semi-arid tropical regions in the most pristine manner possible. It actually seems unreal, yet it isn't!
Another Dome is over 138 ft high with a 115 ft indoor waterfall. It is graces with more flowers, greenery than I can name and as you descend the floating sidewalk around the structure each level has a different theme!
I seriously want to go back to this place and spend at least 2 days there! And I want to take my kids because they would go crazy over this stuff!
We continued through Singapore by night, riding the Flyer, which made Singapore just brilliant!
I knew there was at least one 7-11 in Singapore and it was my goal to get a slurpee in another country. Well there was a whole lot more than one! And we took pictures of them all and got slurpees at like half! And I don't know if it was the 200% humidity or the 90* weather but that apple slurpee has to be one of the best flavors I've ever had!
We made it onto the last subway of the night going to the airport, got about 2 hours sleep on the cold floor before checking into our flight home.
What a great trip! What a great time! What a great bunch of memories we made to add to the many years of trips we've taken!
Thanks mom, aka old lady, for letting me be your travel companion and fellow adventurer again!