New Zealand to Bali was a big transition. While New Zealand is nature's paradise - calm, peaceful and green, Bali turned out to be an explosion of everything! Culture, religion, people and of course traffic. As soon as we landed and got out of the airport, we had herds of cab drivers surround us....and the haggling began :o)
The place where we stayed for most of our trip was north of Ubud, the art capital of Bali. We are so glad we chose that place....away from the hustle bustle of city, in the village, surrounded by rainforest, it was perfect spot to recharge (more about this beautiful place in the next post).
During our five day stay, we visited a lot of temples near Ubud and surrounding areas. In reality, we didn't have to go to temples to learn about the culture. It was everywhere. The beauty and the richness of Ubud and the villages around it lies in its people and their devotion. Every house in the village has a temple and every village has three temples. Every morning we saw women preparing offerings to the God. Every day they prayed without fail. It was a major part of their daily routine. The offerings were simple, little bowls made out of bamboo leaves, with a marigold flower, a cake and incense. The sight was beautiful.
In the temples, the rituals were carried out by priest and people would sit in groups behind him, on the floor, with hands folded in prayer. While Indonesia is majority Muslim, Bali is predominantly Hindu. It was amazing to see how similar they are to Hindus in India but at the same time so different in rituals, temples, and the approach. It seemed more genuine somehow. In the temples we visited, we did not see vendors selling highly priced offerings or priests giving special treatment to people who purchased bigger offerings. The Gods were not adorned in glamorous jewelry and clothes. The people who were praying seemed to be really involved in the ritual. They were taking their time. It felt very different than the temple visits in India.
Thanks to our tour guide and cab driver Wayan Sida Laksana (firstname.lastname@example.org), we had an amazing time in Bali. He was also the manager in charge at the place we stayed. It really makes a difference when you have a genuine guide taking you around the new place :o)