Airport Tragedy

In between the Bali posts, I want to share with you a very sad accident we witnessed at Changi airport. This is the worst airport tragedy I have ever seen. I sincerely hope this will remain the worst!

As an after effect of this accident, I could see the bonding between the "spiritual" brothren of the world. I have observed judgemental & racist people, especially in the airport where multitude of nationals come together. But, this adversity brought forward the unity among the humanity and everyone was trying to console the person who caused the wreck. I knew that I would have to face troubled night if I did not know what the guy had to pay for this. So, for the sake of self, I stood strong against the tired and sleepless me + feverish Manu to see the outcome. The group ended up purchasing many bottles of Ballantine's & did not have to pay for the broken one.

Still, What a terrible waste of spirit.
May this not repeat!


Bali - Go Ubud

We had our plans all set to go Rafting with Nickie & rest of our friends, once the dive camp is done. Usually the end of diving is associated with depression and strange behavior like trying to stay under water in the pool. So, the idea for going rafting right after the dives sounded good.. The activities associated with water is more exciting. But, Manu was catching cold and showing signs of fast approaching fever. So, we had to take the hard choice of abandoning rafting. But we still were planning to move to Ubud.
Since Divya and Seleena  recommended the Git Git falls, we thought of taking a detour to Singaraja, on our way to Ubud. We saw multitude of temples on the way. We stopped at Batur first. The place and people were getting ready for the major upcoming ceremony on the full moon, over the weekend! I still don't know what these people do for a living and a full time job. They are at a temple in the mid-day making some offerings!

As the hunger stirkes, we decided to stop at a place on the way. A very small and tastefully decorated place, which serves western and Balinese food.. Price is not too cheap, but the food was beautiful and delicious with generous portions. To top it all, the view was amazing! The restaurant is facing the sea :-) Would recommend you to visit this place, if you are near Batur. Restaurant name - Mar Puthu. Oh, they have free wifi too.

See the scenic route ...

As we travel to Git Git, I was talking to Gade (our driver) about the Balinese culture and beliefs. I was too curious that, even with the hell load of toursits and modernizations, how is this simple and religious life preserved in Bali? Is the younger generation as religious as the ones before? I even dared to ask him, do you find it a disturbance to have so many visitors here ? Maybe Bali and people need a break ?  His answer was quite simple. " We, Balinese, believe in Karma. If we do bad things, we will suffer.  There was a time when some Balinese had stopped going to temple or give offerings to God. But, they all had some disease or problem or bad luck; which taught us not to deviate too much from the old practices." He insisted on having more tourist coz he sees it as an opportunity to make Balinese get over the poverty!
Thats the key.. Belief and faith is what drives them!

Anyways, back to the landscape.. We reached the parking spot for the waterfalls. From there, a long walk is required to reach the falls. The path is quite beautiful with small common house, rice terraces and unavoidable souvinier shops. The falls and stream is very beautiful.. And seeing the statue of Gods right at the mouth of the waterfall, I couldn't help smiling.

Next stop is at Ulun Danu temple, quite beautiful reflections.  The place was misty and a bit cold. After Bali Kopi and snacks, we went into this small serene temple. (Ticketed entry at 30,000 IDR/ Pax )

Later, after an hour plus drive to Ubud we were reaching the location by night fall. I got a glimpse of the night life, fancy restaurants, shops selling wonderful clothes/ interiors.. We drove on to a quiter lane, with rice fields all around. I was wonderfing where my stay would be. When the driver was finding it hard to locate the place, I got a feeling that itz going to be a wonderful stay :-)

As promised by the owner at the home stay, it was a beautiful Balinese cottage in the very midst of a rice field !
Wait for the next post ..

Photo courtesy - Dragonfly


Bali - People names

If you have been to Bali or have interacted with Balinese people, you would have noticed that many Balinese have the same name. Most of you may already know the secret. But it made me go crazy at first. But now that I get the gist of it, I want to share it with the rest of the world. At Tulamben, the resort manager's name was Wayan. The driver who picked me up from airport was Koman. My dive guide was Koman, but his daughter was Wayan. The guy who picked Seleena and Jersey to join us for the dives was Madhe while the guy who drove us from Tulamben today is Gede. The owner at the homestay we chose is named Madhe, while the wife is Wayan!
Now, do you notice a bizzare pattern here? No!
But, do you see that most people have same names? Thanks God, Yes!
It is not a coincidence that all these people I came across have same names. But, it is intentional !
When we were having dinner at Koman's mum's place, he explains everything to us. The names are Gender Independent, which solves a big mystery. Then comes the norm for naming the kid. The first born "children" is named Wayan or Gede or Putu (I haven't met any Putu yet). Second "children" is named Madhe or Kadek Third born "children" is named Koman or Nyoman & fourth "children" is always Ketut.
We continued the rapid fire round with our questions.

So what about Fifth child ? Can you guess ?? The sequence repeats -- There comes Wayan ;)

So how do you address people in a group? What Koman say is, usually they have a calling name (Nick name), in each gang ! The friends decide the name to differentiate among themselves and use it.
What is your nick name ?
He is called 'Mojo' by his colleagues & 'Wayan' is seriously being nominated as 'Osama'.
How about surname ? Can you use that to distinguish?
Yes, but it might not be unique, coz for kids, parents chose a surname which they like.

Today when we were on the road, we saw a bunch of school kids and we smiled and waved at them. Then I heard Manu questioning himself. How does the teacher call for a single student in the class ??? How does she manage to do the roll-call ?

Bali - The east side

We have this trip planned for more than 6 months now. And this weekend we finally set off to Bali :-) It has been a while since we went under water. So we decided to do the diving part first. The best dive sites in Bali are towards the East. After a hell load of research and talking to many contacts, Manu found this amazingly pleasing budget resort called Puri Matha beach bungalows which is a dive resort. the major highlight is that the well famed USA Liberty Wreck is right in the resort beach ! Yeah, so before the divers start coming in from all parts of Bali, we get to go in first and see the wreck and marine life in and around it (minus the crowd)

The moment I called and talked to Wayan (the manager) I knew we are gonna like this place. The price is good, place is newly renovated with a few cottages added new and he is as friendly as any Balinese will be. From the few travels we have had, I have interacted with a lot of hotel staff. None of them have replied my e-mail saying - "I confirm your reservation. Me, the room and the staff are ready for you. We are waiting ". Tulamben in a long drive from Denpasar airport. As we reach around midnight & plan to dive and do nothing else for the next 2 days, we opted for pick up. When we met the driver, he immediately called Wayan and since it was 12.30 AM in the morning, I was greeted with a Good Morning from the other end of the line.
After the 2.5 hours drive, we reach Tulamben. Our cottage is right next to the beach and the pool. As we took a stroll around we could see a million stars and Manu pointed out the Milky way cloud for me :-) Too much excitement and I found it so hard to fall asleep ..

This is why we got a beach and pool view room :) 

The cottage where we stayed. Sorry for the eyesore sarong ..

The dive shop

I begin the morning with Balinese coffee. On the days I dive, it is difficult for me if I eat something. But for Manu its the opposite. He needs to eat more! Our dive guide Koman consoled me saying "My tummy feel strange when I eat and dive".

The dives were amazing(I can talk about that later). It was my first shore dive, but not so easy to do shore dive here as the shore does not have sand. It is completely covered with Volcanic pebbles of all size and shape. In between the dives, we rest in the shore and find some place to have lunch. Rest of them are finding interesting stuff to eat while I stick to my beverage buffet. Later comes Koman's little girl, Wayan(!) and friends. As in the rest of the world, kids are still scared of me! I wonder why.

She is the tiniest one in the blackNwhite dress & she so much wanted to swim in the ocean ! 

After the evening dive, we showered and found a small motorbike and went out for dinner. We went to the restaurant where Koman's mum works. We ate the grilled chicken and local fried rice which she made. I was telling Koman that its not so common to get to eat your mum-cooked-food in restaurant.

I have read about the Balinese snacks items.. which are small and short and sweet... So, the next day morning, we were planning to get to the market after our first dive and pick up some food. Later after the second dive, I could snack on them during the long break. But after the first dive, we did not have enough time and energy to go out. But, there comes Koman's wife with the food I was looking for ..
My food for the day

After the dives, we sit on the wooden outdoor courtyard near the pool and enjoy the rhythm of the crashing waves and I am writing this :-) Of course I took advantage of the pampering and calmness of this place & did nap in between. I was dreaming of a giant crab moving towards me, when Manu woke me up!
This is where I sit down to write/nap/enjoy the ocean, when I am not under water

Today morning I head to the restaurant to have a good breakfast. We are not diving today, but moving to next location, Ubud. Did I tell you, this restaurant is so far my fave place in the resort .. See it for yourself.

Bali is a touristy place and Tourism is the livelihood of the locals here. So obviously people will try to make a good profit out of each visitor. Haggle a bit and once you settle on the price, the service quality will impress you. The only issue we ever faced in the resort was that we could not find floor mats.

The trip is so far extremely good and satisfying. Tulamben has pleased us and set the expectations of rest of Bali, quite high. Sincerely hope that Bali will be a happy thought by the end of the trip :-)