Friday, March 04, 2005

M'sian Hanuman scales Volcano Datu: Catching and Bali-ing Days Pt 2

Day 2 started off with Hon's snores still ringing in my ears, oops what am I saying.. he IS still snoring. The bus arranged by Melisa came and we were introduced to a local, Gusti who was to be our tour guide for the next 2 days. He wore a headscarve and a colorful 'pelikat' and has the habit of finishing all his sentences with 'yeah', he must've caught it from some aussie dude sometime back. We spent the morning visiting stone carving, wood carving and an art gallery. The skill of these people are amazing and to imagine the whole district that we were in earn a living by sculpting rocks and wood for a living. The next stop was actually the jewelsmith and I was thinking of getting something for Agnes there... maybe a ring or necklace but most of the design seems obselete and dated. The same applies to the the thought of buying a ring for myself ever since Ninja brought up the fact that the lines on my palm indicates a spendthrift in the making. He says it will help if I had a ring to block the outgoing money on my middle finger. Boon however was contented with a plain ring for the same reason.

The next stop was actually requested by ourselves, to go see an active volcano, Gunung Datu. The trip there would take us approximately 1 and a half hours and most of us fell asleep in the bus. Those that were awake were busy snapping away and Sae Junn managed to catch a glimpse of a naked woman bathing by the stream. I was asleep myself and when I stirred from my sleep, I was already at the foot of the volcano. As the rickety bus climbed uphill, Gusti explained to us about the history of eruptions between 1940-1994, the most serious being in 1940 leaving ten of thousands cremated. We stopped by at a restaurant serving buffet and were treated to a spectacular view of the volcano as well as the lake. While we were snapping photos, I saw this 2-3 year old kid trying to reach for his ball which was right at the edge of the slope. There was no safety fencing and should the kid trip, I guess its asta la vista baby.

After the photo session, we had a buffet lunch and it will be the first of the more decent food we have in Bali so far. There was a initial debate on whether we should sit upstairs or downstairs due to the halal issue but we finally decided to sit on the ground floor to avoid conflict (although I swear that the upper floor has got a nicer view). The satays served in the restaurant were fantastic and is nothing like the ones we served here. The meat was minced and marinated and later added with santan, even their sauce was made from a different ingredient and when devoured carries flavour with every bite. Nyum! The rest of the food was average and we spent roughly 1 hour here. This was also where I was to meet the old man offering me the chess set. His will be the most delicate and detailed work among the ones from the shops I will visit later. I truly regret not getting it from him as his price was really reasonable. Most tourist have been warned by the guide to ignore these peddlers approaching buses and I have also developed this immunity. The instant reaction when approached will be a shake of the head or a negative gesture of the hand. Well too late to regret now ain't it.

Next stop Ubud, also known as the culture central of Bali. It was another 1 hour trip from Gunung Datu so it reminds me of travelling from KL to Malacca and back and back again all in the same day. Anywayz we stopped at this area to actually visit the paddy fields, it was planted along hill cliffs and reminds me of the tea plantations you see in Cameron. The only difference is these fields are equipped with irrigation systems for water supply. The contours of the hill forms a sort of motive, making it a sight to behold. Although there for just 15 minutes, peddlers have already gathered around the bus and was desperately trying to sell us their wares. Ninja and Chee bought some wooden sculptures from them and this only served to fuel the others to try harder. In the end, Gusti had to chase them away as they were getting really pushy and aggressive.

Ubud to me just seems like another part of the suburbs with lots of souvenirs and items to offer or It could also be due to the fact we only browsed the market during this 1-hour stop. Main wares include shoes, bags, chains and statues of sorts. Boon bought a few bottle openers shaped like a dick for his friends and also a metal dragon figurine for himself. Hon was out of cash from last night and a few others would like to change their currency as well. So we came to this currency exchange kiosk that was located inside a jewelry shop. As they were busy changing money, a red coral-made elephant tusk caught my eyes and yeap, you can call it love at first sight. I asked for the price of the tusk and a chain to go with it and the bargain started at a hefty Rp. 250 000. We bargained for sometime and finally I bought the necklace and pendant for the final price of Rp. 150 000. The guys told me it was a steal but I was to realize later from a merchant in Seminyak that I paid WAY too much for it. It makes me wonder sometimes if these things are better left unknown. ;<

Penny initially wanted to stay on and dedicate the remaining hours of the day for shopping. The guys however insisted on going to the temple. We left for Uluwatu temple around 4.30pm and is scheduled to reach at 6, in time for the Kecak Dance. We reached the entrance of the temple at 10 minutes to 6 and spent this time visiting the interiors of the temple. Guys and girls with short pants must don a yellow cloth to cover skin or they will not be allowed access to the temple. Monkeys scrambled all around the temple and Gusti kept them away at a distance with the peanuts that he bought. The praying areas of the temple are prohitbited to tourists but we did get a magnificent view as the outer areas of the temple is situated on cliffs. There we can see shades of the setting sun against the torqouise blue sea and witness the waves rushing to shore. There were fishing boats at a distance with sea gulls soaring high above the crimson sky. The view reminded me of Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles minus the fog of course.

We were actually 5 minutes late for the Kecak Dance and when we reached the dance arena, there were already dancers singing and chanting... The dance depicts a love story of Rama, Siva and Sita and revolves around the kidnapping of Sita by the evil King Ravana. Dancers express emotions and story with their movement and eye contact admist the constant chanting and singing of the 'choir'. When the show ended, we took a group photograph with the Monkey King Hanuman and I helped Chee take a picture with the beautiful Sita. Food, glorious food! Jimbaran, famous for its seafood is just 15 minutes away from the temple there we had our seafood dinner by the beach. Tables were placed on sand and every customer is given a warm welcome with flower to the temple. There were 2 bands playing and singing away to Malay, English and even Chinese tunes and mind you, they were really decent. The setting is very romantic and we did not mind having to wait as a few of us took strolls on the beach. Dinner came at long last and consists of a fish, chicken, lala and last but not least a plate of french fries and kangkung for every person. The food was not fantastic, i bet Klang could have better the spread anytime but I must really commend the Balinese sambal which was a mixture of chilli, oil, lemongrass and God knows what other ingredients, it was simply fantastic. While eating, we also tried to dig some great clubbing sites from the waiter and got to know that Lenggian is a great place for R&B while Seminyak is good for trance. This meal will also end up to be the most expensive food we paid for with an average of Rp. 90 000 per pax.

We returned to the hotel after dinner and made arrangements with Gusti for the visit of Sukawati and Tanah Lot tomorrow. He also confirmed an earlier enquiry from Penny to go for Balinese massage the next morning. Most of us were exhausted by the time we reached the hotel and I initially had the thought to postpone our clubbing to the next day but Jason and Hon wanted to at least go out for a stroll since we are here in Bali. So I obliged. Jason, Hon, Boon, Sae Junn, Chee, Vernon and myself took to the roads and we walked the same path we took on the first day. We came to Starbucks and took our seats there. Although it was a Friday, the roads were quite dead other then the occasional gwai lous with ladies of the street. Starbucks Bali serves Bali coffee and the prices of the usual mochas and frappes are slightly pricier in comparison to Malaysia. I ordered myself an ice blended fruity and contented myself to a nice view of a few chicks on the next table. Although nothing to shout about, these chicks are dressed for the night and its better than the dead streets. We sat and chatted for around 1 and a half hours and by then, Jason's eyes were red and watery. He suggested going back by taxi which I refused, not because I wanted to walk but simply out of spite that he insisted on walking all the way here on the first place. By the time we reached the hotel, we were sweating like swines *again* ( a daily occurrence ) and retreated to the comfort of our respective rooms. After bathing, I forced Penny, Hon and Vernon to Black Jack again and managed to squeeze around Rp. 20000 from Penny. After the game, you will hear Penny nag very often how she could've gotten a pair of shoes with the money she lost. Game adjourned at 3 and it's zZzZzZ...

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