Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bali, Indonesia (Honeymoon, Part 1)

After a wonderful wedding in our home state, it was time to get away... really, really far away.  Suzanne and I flew the following evening to Bali, Indonesia, to begin our two week honeymoon.  The first four nights were spent in South Bali, which we used as a base to explore the beaches and temples of the island.  Here are some photo highlights.

If we ever go back to Bali (and we just might), we will definitely be staying at the Puri Bambu Hotel.  Their honeymoon package is a very good deal, and the rooms are enormous for the reasonable price we paid.  The staff was amazing as well, and the location near the beach was pleasant.  They also welcomed us with this cake (which was delicious although impossible to finish) and two bottles of rice wine (Suz loved the rice wine, although I haven't developed the taste for it).  Highly recommended.

One of the dining areas of the Puri Bambu Hotel (photo taken outside of normal eating times).

The beach at Jimbaran Bay, down the street from the Puri Bambu.  The beach is famous for the many warungs (small Indonesian restaurants) whose tables dot the sand.

Jimbaran Bay has some nice waves, although it's not the surfing destination that Kuta (see below) is.

This piece of driftwood lodged in the sands of Jimbaran Bay inspired me.

Couple of jetlagged lovebirds.

The next day we decided to take the free shuttle to the tourist hell of Kuta.  Don't stay here if you're looking for peace and quiet, although you should probably visit it to better appreciate the fact that you decided to stay elsewhere.  This is Poppies Lane, which all the guidebooks talk about, for some horrible reason.  Don't bother unless you really need a bootleg DVD or a "massage."

The beach at Kuta, facing south.  Despite being a lovely stretch of sand (the beach continues to the north behind me for a few miles), it's nearly ruined by the touts, who are fairly uncommon at Jimbaran Bay (minus the warung staff).  Later on in our trip we would actually return here so I could take surfing lessons from one such tout.

The memorial to the 2002 bombings in Kuta, built on the location of one of the destroyed clubs.

The chicken sate [satay] at the original Made's Warung, Kuta.

Padang-Padang Beach, on the Bukit Peninsula in the far south of Bali.

Padang-Padang Beach

Padang-Padang Beach

Statue of a Hindu deity at Pura Luhur Uluwatu (often shortened to "Uluwatu"), in the Bukit Peninsula.

We were required to wear sarongs while visiting the Hindu temple (note - the vast majority of Balinese people are Hindu, unlike the rest of Indonesia, which is mostly Muslim).

Tourists enjoying the cliffs near Uluwatu.

The great wall of... Bali?

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

We decided to do the Kecak and Fire Dance at Uluwatu, which tells the story of the Ramayana.  I was expecting it to be a tourist ripoff, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  Plus, you can't beat the setting, overlooking the Indian Ocean.

I can still remember these guys saying (nearly ad nauseum) "chichichichichichichichichichi CHA CHA CHA!" as they danced rhythmically. 

The dance has too much to explain (it's a Balinese epic involving a demon king who steals Rama's wife), but it was interesting in no small part due to the costumes.

The highlight of the dance was twofold, and seen here = the character Hanuman, a monkey deity who helps Rama, and the fire that destroys the demon king's palace.

Hanuman actually kicked the embers to other dancers, who batted them down lest they fly into the crowd.  Very cool (and not as dangerous as it sounds).

On our third day, we (and I emphasize WE) decided to hire a driver and cram a lot of temples and other sites into our day.  We started in Bali's largest city, Denpasar, where we went to the Bali Museum.  The costumes seen here were actually the least interesting part, but made for the best photo.

We then went to Pura Tanah Lot, to the northwest of Denpasar on the coast.  The temple is only accessible at low tide, which was at 4pm.  Our driver was adamant that you could still go, so we got there around 11am, when the tides were extremely high.  Of course we were unable to cross, but the crashing surf still made for an enjoyable visit.  Suz actually preferred it that way, although I guess she had no basis of comparison.  

Statue at Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot

A different temple, a short walk from Tanah Lot.

We then went to the Bali Butterfly Park, where the workers placed this Atlas moth on me.  Apparently it was only a day old (I hope that was a mistake).  In any case, it's the largest moth in the world.

We had lunch looking over the rice terraces of Jatiluwih.

Next stop = Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, on the shores of Lake Bratan.  This is the outer part of the stunning (and heavily touristed) temple.

This temple graces the cover of at least one Balinese guidebook.

Suzanne and I were rather taken by it.  This was the coldest place we went to in Bali, incidentally (which means around 65 degrees Fahrenheit - freezing by local standards, hahaha).

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

From there, it was off to see the Balinese macaques at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Sangeh.

For a girl who's afraid to snorkel, Suz was surprisingly keen on getting close to the monkeys.

Don't get me wrong - monkeys are awesome.  But I was way more intrigued with the Indiana Jones-type temple in the monkey forest.

Watch that paw, mister.

There's nothing like having your hair brushed by a monkey's testicles, lemme tell ya... ;-)

Back to that Indiana Jones temple...

A younger macaque, with a scary statue in the background.

Last stop of crazy Day #3 = Pura Taman Ayun, where this shocking sign awaited us.

Pura Taman Ayun

Pura Taman Ayun

The many meru (towers) of Pura Taman Ayun.

Suzanne walks around the moat of Pura Taman Ayun.

Day #4 was much more relaxing, as we went to the original Balinese resort town, Sanur, to Aroma Spa, owned by cousins of a friend.  I've never done the spa treatment before, but I have to say that it was far, far better than I expected.  I don't have a ton of photos, but this is part of the interior.

And this pedicure is one small element to the spa day.

The colorful boats at the beach in Sanur.

Sanur has a pleasant walkway between the sand and the beachfront resorts.

If we hadn't liked our hotel in Jimbaran so much, we would have shacked up here for a few nights.  Gorgeous part of Bali.

Suzanne loved the day at the spa, and in turn, I was in love with her.

One of the many hotels in Sanur (name escapes me).

Local boys play in the sand at the beach in Sanur.

Coming up next = three days in Java.  Stay tuned.

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