My Life as a Traveler

Becoming Balinese, Part 3

Me, Manik and Mitsuyo in front of temple

Mitsuyo is leaving today. She’s been my Bali companion for the last 3 days and has introduced me to this place, the food, and we’ve been Hindu together. But before she heads out, there’s one more ceremony to be had.

Offerings on the sidewalk in front of every house today have yellow rice

The morning starts out with a lovely massage after breakfast. Did I tell you that Kadek the wonder woman is also a trained masseuse? Yeah. Is there nothing this woman can’t do? And she’s only 25! My massage happens in the 2nd floor open-air loft of the Nest. Quite private from below, but the perfect temperature. I’ve made peace with the chickens and consider them part of the atmosphere. It’s daytime and they are mostly clucking, anyway. Somewhere behind us there is a group practicing the gamelan, the traditional Indonesian instruments. Beautiful. It’s Sunday and I hear some chanting. Is that some kind of ceremony, I ask Kadek. No, she says. Chickens fighting. Oh. I’d rather like to think they are chanting, so I think I’ll go with that. Nevertheless after a hour and a half massage and scrub, I’m feeling lovely.

Offering for the pandita (Hindu priest) handmade by Manik. We need to put a little money on top.

Now it’s time to go back to Manik’s for one more ceremony. Mitsuyo dons her lovely kebaya and I throw on my beach blanket sarong and change my shirt from yesterday. We find Manik at the restaurant, she has some offerings prepared for us, and we are back to see our friend the pandit. This time he is wearing a sash across his bare chest, a special hat, and colorful pants. We see him and he smiles at us. When it’s our turn, we go through the same drill as yesterday, headband and all. This time, we are offered special yellow rice to eat (actually Kadek made us some and left it this morning), which is what you do on this particular day.

Manik’s beautiful family in kebaya and temple garb

We then hung out with her family, waiting for a special blessing to someone who is pregnant. In the meantime, I’m having a great chat with one of Manik’s nieces who lives in Dublin and works in IT, but is also trying to start a family Bali Chai business. The men are watching boxing on a tv placed on the front porch of one of the homes. Can’t stay too long, though, because Mitsuyo needs to get back to go. Balinese are all about the family, and it was more than wonderful to be welcomed so warmly.

Hanging out at 2nd prayer station, guy on left kneeling is offering prayers

Before Mitsuyo goes, however, we have a couple of new arrivals. Marsha, a school teacher from Canada, and Christopher and Kim (I think it’s Kim, apologies if not!) from Atlanta and Chicago. Marsha is returning to the Nest, so to speak, from her travels around the island. She’d been here last week and now she’s got a couple of days before she continues on to Hong Kong. Christopher and Kim are here because they found the same $537 deal I did and are doing a two week Southeast Asia blitz. Marsha says we need to go to the Balinese dance performance at the Ubud Palace. I suggest we go for sushi happy hour, since Toro Sushi is right across the street from there. After a bit of a stroll around town, I meet the gang and we head to sushi. More mojitos, more sushi, no complaints. Marsha bows out as she has already seen the show. She had mentioned earlier that she was going to climb a volcano the next day and would I be interested in joining her. Sure! Why not? Oh, and the point is to get there at sunrise. Lovely! Which means we have to leave at 230am. Uh, ok. Not sure what this all entails, but I’m just going with the flow on this trip, so hey, I’m in.

Balinese dancing

We arrived at the Palace just a bit late and had a second row seat. But the music was mesmerizing, the dancing intricate, and the costumes beautifully detailed. I wish I would have prepared a bit more and read the Mahabharata (Google it to find the Cliff Notes version), but it wasn’t hard to get lost in the beauty of the show. Back at the nest, there is another newbie, Gus. We share just a hello before I head off to bed. It’s going to be an early day tomorrow!

This looks hard to do

The scary mask guy

Costumes are gorgeous, gamelan orchestra in the background

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