6. marraskuuta 2010

Recess week - Part 1

Hey all!

As you can see, I switched the language to English! :) This is because this time I will be writing about my trip to Bali, and also my non-Finnish-speaking friends might find interest in reading about it! :) I don't know if I will be writing in English all the time in the future, since I'm pretty lazy and most of my readers are Finnish. I guess it depends on the feedback I get from you guys!!!

Thus, a word of warning: I apologize in advance for all the grammatical, idiomatic and spelling mistakes I make, since I will spend as little time and effort as possible on thinking about the correctness of my English in these texts. (So English teachers: don't turn your attention to those things! :P)

I will include a few pictures to my text, but actually I have A LOT of them! :D I gave the address to my Picasa album to some of my friend already, but if you don't have it yet and you're interested to see more pictures, just ask me and I can give it.

For those who have read my blog before, I guess you have all noticed that keeping a blog isn't really my thing - the updates don't appear really often... Well, all I can say is, try to bear with me! I know that there is alot that I've seen here and that I haven't told you about even before the Bali trip (17.-25.9), and after it, but I guess I might not be able to write this blog in a cronological order from the beginning anyway. In stead, I will continue with Bali now, before I completely forget everything about it, and tell you some interesting things from Singapore later randomly.

So, let's finally get to the topic, shall we!

It wasn't until I recently checked my bank account, when I realized how fast did we make up this plan about going to Bali. I had only been in Singapore for an week and a half, but I guess the weeks in the beginning of the semester were the longest ones, and by then, I had already made a lot of good friends. One of them suggested that we would go to Bali for our recess week, which wasn't too far away either - 6 weeks from the beginning of the semester (which started on August 1st). This sounded like really good idea - I mean once you're in Asia, you HAVE TO go to Bali, right? It might be a once in a lifetime chance...

Alot of other exchange students also wanted to go to Bali, I think at some point there were 15 people who were planning to with our group. Many of them made their own groups later, thogugh, since our group was too big for travelling together. But still, in the end, our group consisted of 13 persons, four of them joining us not before than in the airport in Singapore! :D But, even walking around in such as big group is too annoying - some one wants to say in a shop for 10 minutes, another only 1 minute and so on... you get the picture. So, seeing this coming, we separated as two goups after spending the first evenig together.

Days 1-2

We left to the airport right after school on Friday, 17th September, and landed on Bali International Airport (that's in south on the map) in the evening. Here's a map Bali for you, so you can see our route.

Actually the island is rather small, so for example a taxi ride from the airport to Legian, where we spent our first to nights, was only about 15-20 minutes away.

On the second day of our trip, we just wanted to rest from the school week behind us, so went to the Legian beach. It is next to the famous Kuta beach (and Kuta town) where all the tourist go, being the nearest city to the airport, and thus quite crowded with tourists (especially Australians). Because of that, we were warned not to stay in Kuta for a long time - some of us (not me) went there that night, and described the place awful. Such a shame for those people (like some exchange students) who only stay in Kuta for their whole holiday. There is so much more to see in Bali! Well, the beach was nice, though:

In the evening we took a car to Ulu Watu temple, where we could see beautiful views and sunset while watching traditional Balinese dance performance. This one, "Kecak & Fire Dance" was especially interesting, because they didn't have any musical instruments. Instead, there was a man choir "singing" the music that is usually played with traditional balinese instruments in this kind of performances. The beautifully dressed dancers actually performed a play - some parts of and old (and long) Hindu epic, Ramayana. If you're interested to read more about the story or Kecak dance, you can check here. I have to say, it was pretty hard to understand the plot of the play (where there was no talking either, exept in the part in the following video), because I naturally didn't know the stories of Ramayana, and also I didn't have time to read the whole paper that they gave us about the story.

I have two other videos about it as well, but this was the funniest part of the play:

All in all, it was a very nice and interesting performance, something you really don't see every day! After the show, on the way back to Legian, we stopped in Jimbaran to have dinner in a seafood restaurant. It was a really beautiful place, because the tables were on the beach! Also the food was good. Although, it was a bit funny, like some one said, to eat seafood on a beach - it's like eating the fish on their back yard! :D

Day 3

On the third day it was time to leave the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak area (considered as one city really). Hireing a van, especially if there are 7 people, is very cheap in Bali, and I think with this tour we had a very good deal as well: we only paid about 4 euros each for a car and a driver for the whole day. And you'll see how many places we went!

The first place we went was Tanah Lot. It's name actually means "land sea", and that's what it is: a temple in the sea. With an extra few thousand rupiahs you could go and see a holy snake in a small hole in a cave, and have a man praying for you. Well, I saved my money, but a few friend went to see it, and told me the man propably prayed good luck in studies for them. In a few weeks we'll see if it was worth saving money at that point or not...

Tanah Lot Temple

In the temple area we could see women prepairing small baskets like in the picture above. But actually, you can see those little baskets all over the place in Bali. They are offering for gods, with flowers, some food like candies, and ants. They are placed on the ground in strategical places, like in front of your house's gate, but there were some also on the beach etc, so where ever we were walking, we always had to look down and be careful not to step on them.

The next place we stopped was Mengwi, where we saw the Royal Temple, Taman Ayun. It's a really old temple, built in the 17th century, and a sanctuary for the members of the royal family of  Raja of Mengwi. I don't know so much about the histoy of Bali, but to my knowledge rajas were somekind of leaders like kings, and Megwi used to be a kingdom.

A view on the Taman Ayun Temple

Next on our tour was a stop in Kintamani, to see a beautiful view on Mount Batur and Lake Batur. We climbed the mountain later on our holiday, but we hadn't planned that yet a that point. So I'll talk about the volcano later.

Mount Batur - yes, the black thing is lava! ;)

The trip continued to The Holy Spring Temple in Tampaksiring. For me, I think that was the most interesting place we visited that day. That's because it is an actually "active" temple, not just a tourist attraction. So, we could see the families going to the temple, (all the family members wearing same style of clothes), taking their offerings there, going to the holy water, and praying. 很有意思!

The holy water
One nice family was especially interested in us - they wanted to take pictures with us and them together. It wasn't very unique thing to happen in Bali, and I don't mind, but I still wonder why are the locals so facinated by us (blond-haired) tourists. I mean, there have been a lot of tourists in Bali for a long time, so haven't they seen "us" before?

Anyway, to end our day tour we finally got to Ubud. Ubud is known for being the "cultural centre" of Bali, so I was expecting something else, something more authentic. But I guess being known for culture has also brought the tourists, and all those clothing strores there. So authentic it definitely wasn't, but cultural yes. So many galleries and shops selling paintings! A paradise for window shopping: walking along the long Monkey Forest Road, a shop after another selling local (or not so local) handicraft, beautiful clothes (some also fake expensive brands), paintings and jewellery. There was also chances to see Balinese dance, but it was expensive and seemed not very different than the dance we already saw in Ulu Watu, so we decided we're satisfyed with that.

My dear roomate and her boyfriend, who were travelling with us, already had a booking to a hotel, so we drove them there. For the rest of us it was too expensive, so we went to look for another one. It didn't take very long time until we found a good and cheaper one. A great place, we especially liked the balcony/kitchen area in front of our (girls') bedroom! So, after a balinese dinner we just returned to relax there and enjoy each others company and share ghost stories!


Not to get one update too long, I think I will cut my story here and continue in the next part. I hope I can release the next sequel soon enough, because I also have a lot of school work to do right now! For least before the next trips! :D

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