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Battye Family’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013

Location: Indonesia

MapIn Search of the Real Bali
by John

Wondering how to meaningfully spend our last two days was difficult. We didnít have much time or opportunity to research, we didnít want to go south again to beaches where tourists start drinking Bintang at 10 am and count the number of bottles at the end of the evening. We wanted a real connection and appreciation for the real Bali.

We took a chance on a town that had great snorkeling and was reputedly super quietÖ Pemuteran. Hours from the airport over steep mountain passes, itís quite far off the beaten path. We found a room easily at one of a small handful of hotels and quickly fell in love with the beauty of the place. We had stepped back in time to a modest fishing village. Spider shaped bamboo boats pulled up along a semi-circular coastline of black sand beaches. Brown -skinned fishermen sat on the sand repairing their nets. Susan and I walked down an almost deserted beach and saw only one modest shop in a shack on the sand. There were no touts and most of the Balinese simply ignored us except for a friendly hello in Bahasa Indonesian. Was this Shangri-la? Susan and I took an open-hearted, warm, and very relaxing walk alone.

It happened there was a Hindu celebration in town that day, but we decided to just let the cultural research go for a change and spend time doing nothing. I realized that zealous research for Planet Rangers was one of the things keeping me from my own natural curiosity about things other than Balinese culture and Hindu life!

We grabbed the girls and invited them for a little snorkeling and a visit to a turtle hatchery we had discovered. As we walked, hints of the parade music came wafting to us intermittently. Never mind, we were looking for turtles and eels! We strolled for five minutes and laughed at the unlikely place Susan tripped over the mooring lines and broke her toe earlier in the day, a toe now sporting a rich shade of purple. Jenny and Emily helped her gingerly over and under the ropes. The sounds of the parade grew louder with clanging gongs and raspy metallic gamelins playing a haunting kind of music.

In that moment, the parade, our family and a warm cleansing rain converged at the same place. The lead flag-bearers emerged from a trail to our left wearing bright white tunics and white headpieces. The second they ritualistically dipped their bamboo staffs into the water, they cheered and the rain started. Walkers carrying mini temples, yellow decorative umbrellas, more flags, drums, and gamelins arrived. The music was everywhere. The whole parade was right in front of us as we stood in the pounding rain in our towels and bathing suits. Women in resplendent dress carried offerings to the gods to the edge of the water. Trays of banana leaves filled with flowers, rice, and burning incense were floated out to the sea gods. So this, then, was the real Bali.