Well, I meant to try and blog while I was gone, but we were busy from sun-up to bedtime (which, since we were all jet-lagged, was around 9 or 9:30pm.) So I decided to just enjoy myself, take lots of pictures, keep up with my journal, and blog when I got home. I've been home a week now, trying to get over the jet-lag (coming back across the international date line always takes me at least a week) and then getting over the cold I got from not getting enough sleep. I'm finally feeling a bit better and have started editing photos to share.
We did a LOT of stuff every day, but as most of you know, we were filming for a TV show as part of the trip, so I'm just going to give some highlights from each day showing what I'm allowed to share right now. When the show airs next year, I'll be announcing it everywhere, and then you can watch it! Bali was totally amazing, and I'm SO glad that I went.
For the first part of our trip, we stayed at a wonderful little hotel in Ubud. It was beautiful, with a fantastic staff and a really good restaurant. This was our view during breakfast every morning:
We visited some local artisans who greeted us with fresh coconuts. I'd tried it in Thailand and didn't really like it, but the taste of the water varies, so I tried it again and really enjoyed it this time - I drained my coconut!
That evening I went for a walk with two of the ladies in the group - we headed toward the Monkey Forest, looking in the shops and enjoying a beautiful evening. As we got close to the forest, we found a few of the inhabitants out making trouble.
The next morning, Tuesday, we started out visiting another artisan shop - it was in their family compound, and they had decorated everything for our visit. The courtyard was beautiful, and their workshop and showroom were amazing.
I was in Bali with Craft Tours, and all of Jim's trips to Bali include a chance to learn how to make batik fabric. That's what was on the schedule for the afternoon and I was pretty excited about it!
Some of the ladies at work in the workshop:
We got to make two kinds of batik on our own. One was stamped, one we traced or drew a design in pencil and then painted over it with hot wax. After we were finished, the dyed them for us (our guide picked them up later and brought them to the hotel when they were done. How's that for service?)
Here are some of the other ladies tracing their designs:
When we got back to the hotel, Emily and I went down to the pool patio for tea. Isn't that just the coolest? We had a pot of jasmine tea, and these are the refreshments they served us (plus some veggie fritters that were delicious.) That little handmade basket was full of corn and fresh coconut and it was awesome.
Emily and I walked back from the palace through the local craft market. They were closing up, but it was enough to do a little bit of shopping and see what we wanted to see. Since we're gone all day, we usually miss it, so we wanted to find a way to see it while it was open!
Wednesday, we started out quite early so we could drive an hour to go see the elephants. The drive itself was stunning!
The elephants aren't native to Bali, but were actually brought there from Sumatra - they were rescued from government camps where they had been sent to keep out of the way of newly built plantations. We were told that there are now 43 elephants in the park - 4 of which were born in there, and the others were all rescued. (Here's an article that talks about the rescue and their new home.) I love elephants, so seeing these beautiful and happy ones safe and loved made me very happy!
I stole this one from Emily's Instagram until we have a chance to exchange photos... that's Gigi. Isn't she pretty?
I took some video a little later when some of the elephants had free time in the pool. They were trumpeting and playing - dunking each other and having a pretty awesome time. I have to get it off my video camera... eventually! It was so fun to watch - and listen to!
Eventually we went back to the hotel to have a late lunch. Emily had gotten a recommendation to try Watercress - very close to our hotel. We went and had a fabulous lunch. I had corn fritters with avocado and poached eggs, and this mango ice-cream shake that was to die for.
We left the Monkey Forest about 3:30 so that we'd have time to slip in an extra stop for the day... some of the ladies had asked if it was possible to go visit the shamen from Eat.Pray.Love - Ketut Liyer. Since they close at 5, we had to hustle! We got there and his son, Niyoman was able to see us (Ketut is retired and wasn't seeing anyone that day.) This is where the scenes in the movie were filmed. Just for fun, we each sat with him for 10-15 minutes. Of course, we're all beautiful, intelligent, lucky, and successful. He told me a few things that he didn't tell anyone else (mostly common sense and probably fairly easy to deduce,) but it was all good advice! Most of it I'm even going to try and follow!
Since it was our last night in Ubud, when we got back, Emily got some recommendations at the desk for a dance show that we could go to. We had dinner and then the hotel drove us over to see the Trance and Kecak dance. We had no idea what we were seeing, but the lady at the hotel said it was the best! At the show they gave us a pamphlet with our ticket - I read it ahead of time which is the only way I understood the story. It was about Rama and Sita, and all of the music was from 100 men sitting in concentric circles who sang / chanted - no instruments. It was outdoors and dark, and there were several tall people in front of us, so I didn't get good photos. You can kind of get an idea from these:
I can't imagine how those men manage to sing non-stop for an hour (I got some video of this too - just to remember how it sounded!) That was the trance part of the show - the singers seem to go into a kind of trance for their portion. It was very cool, and the costumes were great and the dancing was beautiful. They finish by putting up barriers to protect the audience and then they light a big fire in the middle. A man comes out and kicks the fire around with his bare feet (it's a hoby horse routine - still don't know what it meant!) and they keep raking it back and he kicks it around again until it mostly goes out. That's the end of the show. After that, we walked back to the hotel and then called it a night.
Now, it's time for me to get busy editing some more photos so I can put up the next set!