Saturday, April 4, 2009


Pandang Bai, Bali, Indonesia offers things to do for anyone who can make it past the hagglers on the beach. It’s hard to resist them. They want very little money for what they offer but knowing that I would never use the things and that they don’t appeal to me aesthetically made it possible to say no.

We did agree to go in a taxi to outer towns to look around. The driver stopped when we asked him to and he took us to a wood carving place as well as a batik place though the prices at both were out of this world – so high they had to price in US dollars because they’d have run out of zeros using Indonesian Rupiah.

We stopped to take photos of the bridge protector. Since all bad things come from water, the bridges need special creatures to protect them from the water. Some of these are quite elaborate.

At another area we stopped to take photos of rice fields but it was hard to capture the small terraces on the photo so I took a little step onto a rice paddy wall. Apparently I weigh more than a rice farmer because the wall under one foot gave out and I ended up with a mud-coated shoe. Later, in the toilet at a wood carving studio, I held my foot over top of the toilet and poured a bucket of water over it to flush off some of the mud. (It was one of those bucket-flush toilets and this may have been the first time I was happy not to have a flush toilet.)

While the rinse removed some mud it also resulted in a distinct squish while walking out. As the shoe dried the mud became more apparent so I tried to clean it back at the ship where I learned that wet wipes and Q-tips are not the best tools for cleaning mud from a shoe.

Another stop was the Bat Temple. Built into the side of a hill, it has sheltered thousands of bats since the 11th century. Our guide told us that there are a million bats in the cave along with snakes. The snakes never come out but eat the dead or dying bats.

The bats have to feed so they come out at night looking for insects. I said it would be exciting to see them fly off but he disagreed. “The bat shit rains all over the temple, Madam.” he said.

He said it as easily as if he had asked it I would like tea.

His name was Wayun or something akin. It means first. He is the first born son and has 4 brothers so they are named First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth. He and his brothers went to elementary school and then had to drop out. While elementary school is free the students and families must buy uniforms and all their books and materials. This was enough for his family to manage. They couldn’t afford high school so he works at the temple.

In the past, before the bombing , 500 people would come to the temple every day but now there are 30 ore 40 a day and nobody at the temple has money.

An old man trailed Rick to sell him a coin for $4 so I eventually bought the coin. Our guide told us that the man’s grandfather found the coin in a sunken ship off the coast. Who knows?

After I bought that coin another man appeared with another coin and I bought that too for $3 with no story of grandfathers or sunken ships but in a flash he whipped out another coin so Rick and I skedaddled before we became the owners of dozens of coins.

We talked with a port officer, a gentleman dressed in a red shirt, red plaid sarong and with a kris in his belt loop. There were many such officers who seemed to take turns directing traffic, sitting and watching traffic and smoking cigarettes in nearby cafes. This particular officer allowed me to take his photo and then asked for my Holland America 25 day cruise button. He collects them. It didn’t mean much to me so I gave it him and he said it would be the 209th in his collection.

He talked about his kris saying it was his grandfathers and that the kris has magic in it and power in it so it’s best to keep it in a family. He seemed surprised that Rick had actually been able to buy a kris so maybe they are not sold in Indonesia as they were in Malaysia.

Back on the ship with a bit of lunch in us at 6 p.m. Rick stretched out on the bed and I went to walk the deck one time. One of the maintenance men was fighting with a tender propeller. It had about a kilometer of rope of various sizes wrapped around it and he was trying to get it off.

The anti-pirate acoustic weapons are still on deck and the security officers continue to prowl but there’s been no official alert of any kind. Only rumor.

1 comment:

Bali Accommodation said...

If you want to go to Lombok, you will pass trough Padang Bay using a boat or yacht