Upon entering Ubud, Bali the first thing that stood out were the many temples that were located in the airport, every home through out the city, and at other places in the communities as well as in the jungle. They were small, medium and large. Each home area had a temple within the confines of its home boundaries. As you would walk around they would increase in size and depth. I assumed it was because those people had more money. Some were so enormous and adorned with many colors and flags. I wondered what they did for a living. My assumptions were pretty much dead wrong. Yes, wealth did determine the size of some, but the larger ones were actual community temples for worship. The larger grandiose ones were for the small cities involved.
Before every home before every business on every vehicle there were small offerings made on cocoa leaves these apparently are the minimal type of offering one would make. The smell of incense burning was pervasive to the area. I observed majestic structures and statues of monkeys and elephants and elephant / human's, Buddha's and many more.
To understand things clearly I asked our host, "I see all these statues of gods. Exactly how many gods do you have?" He was referring to the many as gods, and called one a dad god, which was a bit confusing from my prior knowledge. His answer was, "Well, we actually only have one God, the creator of all things. These others just resemble represent the one God in various aspects of the earth and life.
There is a lot of skill and creativity involved with making them, that is for sure. Here are a few we found in Indonesia and SE Asia.
We arrive into Ubud, Bali late in the evening, find our rooms, shower and pass out. Ninety minutes later I awake to a shrills, shrieks, screaming. Scared out of my mind initially, hair standing on end, and still in a daze I can’t really move. Is this thing going to come in my room? Where in the world are we? My phone immediately lights up and it’s Grace, texting. "Do you hear that? I think it's a Lizard and is going to kill me." I didn’t even turn towards Liz, and she did not move. So I thought she was out cold although at the time I was not sure how.
This goes on and on for a good hour or so. The noise becomes more familiar. The only way to know is get up, grab a camera so authorities know what happened to us, and check things out. I hit record and snuck out the door to the balcony that over look the street below. I see men and an enormous pig in a round cage. It is deceased. The other pig is having its snout wrapped tight to muffle the noise. They proceed to end the animals life by making an incision at its throat. They begin to gather the blood in a basin of sorts. “Well, at least that is over.” , or so I think.
I lay down to hear another sound, and with it comes a very odd smell. Out of bed I have to see this. Flame throwers, ok maybe not a flame thrower, but a big gas torch. They are burning the hair off the creature. This noise and smell last for another hour.
When they are finally done, the alarm goes off. Not a phone or watch alarm but natures. We are insisted to get up by the roosters caged 50 feet from our door. Doors which are beautifully carved, but have open windows at the top.
I was ready to leave immediately. I was not convinced at this point, we were at the right place. Pig's screaming, preparing them in the road, the many temples. If this is what I can expect for the next month, I'm ok with missing that party. The next day I spoke with our amazing host. Everyone was woke up, and he assured me things would be different. Everything, but the roosters. I could count on that! We came during a time for celebration and offering at the temples, and that is why the pigs were prepared.
I had to remind myself, "This is why we came to Ubud. To understand the culture and the people." I am more than glad we stayed, I would go back in a minute and will most definitely miss that place!
Here of pictures of the street below our place. I have provided a link to the pig cleaning only. youtu.be/9tEINHPOheg
Gili Trawangan is a small Island north of the larger Lombok Island east of Bali. You can walk around the island in a little over an hour. They have an open market that serves amazing street food from a dozen or so vendors every evening. They have this Nutella peanut butter pancake that we all split. As usual, a sweet thing too late has me awake too early.
Today, as I walked down the worn, busy bodied road, I saw a younger looking man and was oddly drawn to talk to him. It was as if we were not strangers. Here was our conversation in brevity:
Me- 😏Hey what are you up to?
Billy- 😌Nothing. I tried to fish today but couldn’t catch any thing. Shows me line neatly spun in a circle with no hook.
Me- I am Antonio ( it’s easier to say than Anthony) What is your name
Me- Very nice to meet you (Cool hand shake)
Billy- So what do you want me to do for you?
Me- (I’m a bit taken back. What’s he mean? Do to me?) I don’t understand. I don’t need you to do anything to me.
He repeated the phrase. Then followed...
Billy- Do you want mushrooms, weed, to get high?
Me- ahhhh well Billy, you know I’ve never done that before. You’re my sons age, and I’m pretty old, and well, I’m afraid if I did that I would fall over and die or something. All said with a smile..
Billy- No you will be ok, just a little for your first time.
Me- Well, how much is it?
Billy- 150...( meaning about 10$)
Me- So here’s what I propose Billy. I will give you the money and we will call that good.
Billy- So where do you want me to bring it to you?
Me- No... here is what I mean, you can have the money. I don’t want the drugs or anything. It is a gift from me to you. That’s it. We are brothers and so we help one another. I am not on holiday. I live here for a short time and work. I WANT YOU TO BE BLESSED!
At this point Billy didn’t know what to do. His countenance lit up as a gracious and puzzled look was also painted on his face. As I went on my way, he continued to thank me. I would look back and smile and give the aloha wave. It's sort of contagious, but more and more people I met and would see me later, would use the greeting.
Later as I walked through the busy little street, I hear someone yelling "brother, brother." Billy was out and about. He was the one yelling waving to get my attention! Thanking me again.
Billy like many locals on these islands struggle to survive. Liz talked about this in her post, Leaving Gili Trawangan. Tourists come because of the beauty, and their money goes a long way. A salaried position ranges from $250 -$350 a month. Most do not have those positions. That can mean, as one massage therapist told me, getting up early to prepare meals for the family and twin babies, leaving the island at 8:00 am to go to the next, working all day until 11:00pm, every day.
For instance it’s 2:00 am now and I still hear horses trotting by carrying visitors. They have been under load since we went walking at 6:00 am. “The locals must work a lot,” a street vendor selling grilled corn on the cob told me. Btw, it was amazing corn! I was his first customer that night as people began to arrive at the market. I decided to tip him more than he charged me for the corn. I could easily pay $2 US for it and go on, but it created another great opportunity to do good, which was such a small thing. For him, it was apparently larger than I realized as tears welled up in his eyes. A young guy in his 20’s named Umetik. We began to chat about life and family. Once married he works to live, to survive and help provide for the larger family. “For some reason I understand everything you say, but these others I do not. Why is that?” I had no clue on what to say about that, but kept talking. Like others, Umetik and I had a conversation of being human, and supporting one another. He went on to say, “We know your money goes along way and are grateful. Some people are so rude however and come here expecting us to just know what they are saying, and for me to get them drugs. I don’t do that. I could get them and make money, but it’s not the money I want to make.”
More customers came up and I was on my way. He didn’t want me to leave, and I could have chatted hours with him. I love the common bonds we have with others and the opportunities to know them and their cultures. These encounters today are comparatively as beautiful as seeing a sunrise at the beach or on top of a mountain. Interactions with others, if embraced can be powerful! If you ever plan to come to Bali, you can make it more of a holiday by actually talking to those who love to serve you. They are observers as well. A little charity, and an open ear will go a long way as you Java Llama... drink coffee, eat corn on the cob or walk down the street looking to do good.
Today we leave the beautiful island of white sandy beaches, aqua blue and turquoise water. Sitting here on the balcony feeling the breeze, admiring the waves as pedestrians, horse carts pass by. The breeze is warm, the jingling bells of horse collars and hooves float away and then come again. There are many differences as I compare our lives from the locals. Each morning Anthony and I walk around the island to see locals sleeping on the beach, benches and floors under tables. Some climb a short concrete wall coming from jungle where they live in shanties. The young men who work for this Airbnb and jewelry store sleep on the tile floor under the Airbnb on a mats with a small blanket. Ladies sell small triangle wrapped brown paper filled with rice, vegetables and a little fish to the locals for 15,000 rupiahs ($1.06). Flip-flops are the shoe for every day, which are taken off when entering stores and houses. Sand is everywhere, sweeping the sidewalk and streets with short straw brooms is common as well as throwing buckets of water on the brick path to keep the dust down. They work long hours to earn a living. One lady at a spa said she lives on one nearby island and arrives early each morning by boat and stays until 11 PM at night working to take care of her family every day. She has two-year-old twins at home as well as many other children. Each restaurant and bar on the brick street plays different music; reggae, American pop (sometimes live), instrumental or rock to suit the visiting tourists.
You can’t walk more than 20 feet before you are hailed by locals to look at menu's to eat at their restaurant or offered tours for snorkeling, diving or boat rides.
They are kind, friendly and funny. We have enjoyed their company.
From our very first night in Ubud, to Nusa Penida and still in Gili Trawangan, we were greeted the sound of roosters. From rooftops, to beaches and the street there was no getting away from them. Every day, a few hours before sun up until sundown a steady outpouring of chatter reigns across the islands from rooster, referred to as cocks, to the next.
Apparently we arrived during the time they would soon be having the cockfights in the temple. We could see the men and boys with their chickens on the streets in the evening. This was apparently the preparation, or “training” according to locals. One man would bring his rooster before another as they were sitting on the ground and place the roosters face-to-face. Then both men would stand and put the roosters on the ground. It was then they would then began to attack one another. This is what we witnessed and has been apart of the culture for quite some time.
During the big contest occurring every six months, it’s rooster versus rooster to the death. The owner of the victor is given the dead chicken to bring home to eat.This continues on until there is one cock standing.
Accoring to https://factsofindonesia.com/history-cockfighting-in-bali
“The goal is that there is a chicken that died so that his blood soaked the earth. The blood is then mixed with three kinds of colored liquid: white (tuak), yellow (wine), and black (berem). This mixing is a symbol of a reminder that mankind keeps the balance of bhuwana alit (human) with the great bhuwana (universe). This religious ritual is called tabuh rah. Chicken cockfighting in Tabuh Rah is not the main goal. Chicks just become one way to pour (pour) chicken blood. Thus, the true chicken is not pitted seriously. Tabuh rah can be done without pitting chicken. Instead, one can immediately slaughter his chicken."
The winner lives another day apparently. Historically, gambling was not to be part of this tradition. The government has made it illegal but somethings can apparently be over looked. What can't be overlooked, are these annoying, yet somewhat majestic creatures which live cage-free and somehow seem to know, they rule the roost.
At 1:50am the alarm sounded. Prepared and packed five hours earlier Grace, Liz and I grabbed our bags and went to the road out side of our quaint Airbnb area to wait for a taxi service. Our companions of sort in wait were three dogs. Not ours but locals that take over the streets at night in Ubud. They are very keen. If you belong, they leave you alone, but if you wander where you shouldn't they will bite. Seeming to sleep with one eye open I knew they watched us. One was so tired it was trying to sleep, stand and protect us from moving. Quite comical to see it lean then fall again and again. The taxi arrived at 2:20. I was initially surprised to see three others in the tiny van. "I thought we had our own guide?", were my first thoughts. My second were more concerning, "Dang Liz will be sick!" She is very sensitive to motion sickness so if you know her, shotgun is the normal position in a car if not driving. I was definitiely more than a bit worried for her to get in the back. Fortunately the gentleman from Scotland would give up his seat for 'the lady who was afraid of cars', I believe he said in a fun tone. I like that phrase, Ha!
The van smelled of smoke, the windows were up, it was muggy and fog covered the glass. "This was going to be a one hour trip from hell," I murmured. I was reaffirmed at each curve, progressively becomin sicker. "Just close your eyes and go to sleep," I thought. Not a chance as the perpetual bouncing and curves were killing only me apparenty, and did I mention the smell? After 40 minutes we arrived, whew. We were taken to a large gathering area of covered tables filled with diverse group of people. It’s a bit awkward at first not knowing anyone nor knowing what to do. The taxi driver / guide directed this vanhalen group, who are now apparently going to be hiking together, to our table with a very big smile. Pleasantries were exchanged. Gerry, an attorney from Scotland, and newly weds, Artie and Irene from Istanbul. (All names are fictitious) We became aquatinted with one another as we were served coffee and a banana crepe. It was yummy! I was ready to go. Our taxi / guide soon gathered us again and lead the group back to the vehicle, which I thought was meant to grab stuff. He instructed us to get back in it. No! Apparently we were not there yet. So back in the van and off we went. They can't drive 55 :)
A line of red lights pierced through the night up and down hills and around each bend in the road. All vans like ours headed to the same starting point. The real cause of the delay was an eventual stopped made at a check point of sorts. I can’t say for sure but when we met our officer, I think some money was exchanged and we were allowed to pass through. I couldnt tell for sure.
We finally arrived and meet our for real guide, Kupto, (Sounded like Koop too) around 3:45 am. He was a slender, maybe in his mid to late twenty's, Balinesian who took small groups up Mt. Batur 6-7 days a week. I learned he was married and had two children. A very positive guy who would be paraomount in the trip.
The hike would be two hours and a climb about 4500 feet in elevation. The terrain consisted of sand, gravel, rocks and lava rock. It was pretty steep, and I would estimate 500 or more filled the trail with each separated by 1-2 meters at most. Occasionally there would be rest stops, even a place where the guides prayed at a small shrine.
About half way up, I noticed my heart starting to elevate. I am in descent shape, more so than my family. When we stopped to rest Liz became extremely dizzy. The increase in altitude had effected her this way a few other times. It is a hit or miss with her on that. This morning it hit her like if you were a child laying backwards on a merry go round and someone spun you until you either fell off, or you walked off and fell. :)
The group was amazing, and kind. Offering her water, coke and a snickers. I had to ask the attorney what clientele he represented offering her coke. "Some Columbains", he said, and we laughed! After a bit of deep breathing and a snickers, we were off again. I greatly appreciated the mentality of Kupto, "We all go up together and down together", he repeated early on. At this point others in the group repeated the mantra. It meant a lot.
As we traversed the mountain of no switch backs, which means it’s pretty much a grind straight up. Kupto put his arm back for Liz to grab. He would assist her up the hill during the tough parts and maybe a little more than she needed. It was dark, but I even saw him helping her and Irene at the same time. No language barrier could confuse this mans genuine affection for those he traveled with. Like I said, he was paramount.
We walked, and slipped and tripped our way up with hundreds of others. A line of flashlights pointed the way up the path like a line of lights one might put on a Christmas tree. In the distance, one could see Mount Agung in the dark, and as light began to fill the sky, Mount Ranjani in the east. At that point, thoughts of tired legs were replaced with a little excitement. Web began stoping briefly for premature pictures that never look the best due to the low visibility. With about ten minutes left to spare, we made it to the top on pure adrenaline to see the sun rise. It was a very clear morning with light clouds below that slowly rolled between the mountains toward the ocean. There was also a beautiful body of water called Danau (Lake) Batur, the largest of Bali.
I have seen hundreds of amazing sunrises, but this was the best of all. I suppose I have said that before and probably will again. Grace is over using the term ‘epic’ for our trip. A term not really used much anymore, but it is a fitting description of the morning. Pictures and videos can never capture life as the eye sees it from my experience. I am using the iPhone Xs which is pretty good.
The breeze was cool and many began to cover up in layers. Being from the midwest and currently living in the north west of the United states, cold is my friend, my tank top sufficed. They offered us coffee (we would buy) and our breakfast. It consisted of one hard boiled egg and two pieces of white bread. After that hike, anything would do and was appreciated.
When it was time to go from basking in the mid morning splendor we were lead up the mountain 100 feet higher to the edge of the crater located on the other side of where we stood. The crater of the volcano in which Mount Batur sits is claimed to have one of the most impressive views in the world. With a diameter of 13Km, 8 miles, we could see steam coming from certain parts, it had no hot lava bubbling out of the ground or anything like that. It was amazing. Part of the valley consisted of a large dark in color cooled lava rock formation from past eruptions. We were quickly greeted by unexpected guests. There was a fairly large family of monkeys that jumped from limb to limb, on a small tree growing up from the other side of the ridge. Occasionally a few would mingle with us, or observe from a small buildings roof. If you were not careful, they would take items from open back packs. I’ve seen enough bad youtube videos to know not to mess with wild life. They were cute though.
From there we began our descent on the dirt filled trail. Stomping feet and motorcycles maintained a large cloud of dust which followed our descent. On the way I met a PHD student who was in Singapore a week earlier at a conference. I inquired to its nature. He said the conference was on the flu. “Excuse me? The Flu?”. “Yes”, he replied with a laugh. So I had to ask, with a smirk of course, “Is there any sign of a cure?” He laughed and let me know not yet and not in any foreseeable time. Bummer! Ninety minutes later, after a lot of sharing and getting to know others, we arrived at our staring point.
Overall I give the total trip a 4.5 of 5 stars. Mainly because of the van ride. The hike itself was great 5* and I would do it again.
Thanks again to my new friends from across the globe who were so kind and courteous to Liz.
People can be amazing! Also thanks to https://coconuts.co/bali/lifestyle/5-things-they-dont-tell-you-about-mt-batur-sunrise-hike/ for their advice about Mt. Batur.
Next Stop? The Double 6 Beach, Seminyak and the Blue lagoon before we leave Ubud to Nusa Penida, and Gili Trawangan.
I am currently in Bali. One typically thinks of sandy white beaches, resorts, bikinis, snorkeling and of course surfing. I have yet to reach the beach but hope too soon. We are in Ubud. Ubud is becoming a tourist attraction with its many temples, cafe's and places to shop. We are staying at an Airbnb for a few weeks. Fortunately we have been provided bottled water. When we are without we have the Grayl (Updated Version) water bottle. With all of our precautions, two of the three of us have the Bali belly. Sort of an upset stomach with stool issues. You can get it from ice at a restaurant, getting water in your mouth during a shower, or food cooked in water.
On our nightly walk, we witnessed people bathing in the local irrigation ditches while down stream, a woman was washing her dishes and another their clothes.
Across the globe there is great need for clean water. Java Llama has partnered with Water for Life to help spread the word about their work. For over a decade they have been drilling fresh water wells for thousands in Guatemala. The good news about those wells is they are 100% sustained! Which means they are still in service since their first well drilled in 2004 and they are maintained regularly. WFL (Water for Life) is volunteer based. Well drillers and other volunteers spend their own dime to get materials as well as their persons there. Some look for 100% of funds to go to helping people before they get involved. I am not sure what business they have ever been in to think such things. Some funds must go to operations, and I hope this mentality will change.
WFL has acquired a more sophisticated well drilling rig. Now what would take over a week or more to be drill one well, two - three can be. They can increase their scope if you will help! Thank you for those who do, and for stepping out to get involved. You can learn more at www.h2oforlife.org We are developing their web-presence, so be sure to like and share their FB Page as well.
Salmon Idaho. My home away from home. Yes I love the area, it’s diverse scenes, timeless scapes and varying seasons. But that is not why it’s home. I previously lived there for only two years before leaving for different work. I thought I would never move from that place and become a flat lander in the valley. We now have the opportunity to be where we like, for as long as that lasts. Salmon drowse me back. It could be the simpler life. It’s definitely not because of small town politics and diesel trucks peacocking for attention. I am drawn to the water and the mountains and to the Bistro of course who’s food is some of the best I have ever indulged in. Most importantly it’s a connection to friends. My friend is someone I can be who I am with no real judgment. I don’t need to pretend and wear any sort of facade. He can hold the conversation if I just feel like listening. We are free to believe and say what we want in whatever manner. Fortunately he is just a snap away, and although I am across the globe, part of me is still there riding in a truck through the mountains, floating down a river, and beating his butt in pool and golf. HA! These pics represent some of our first travels and one memory Phil getting ripped off for a shoe shine. Notice he is wearing sneakers. Bahahah $20 gone!
Recently a friend of mine asked what we are doing. She saw that we sold our house and that I quit my job. For a very long time, I believe it was during high school, I have loved traveling, exploring new cultures, people groups around the world and serving on mission projects. I was browsing through a coffee shop one day and saw a book called "A Year Off". After reading about this couple's journey, I began thinking more about what I've been wanting to do for a long time.
After months of talking, dreaming, and planning, we finally made the decision to make this next year one of minimizing, experiencing, serving, traveling and sharing our journey.
For those that say we are "living the dream", I will be referring to it like Nas Daily, we are "Working the Dream." It is not a long, glorified vacation but one where we will be working part-time, serving in various projects around the world and taking our 17 year old daughter who will be accomplishing remote/world school for her senior year. Sometimes it's overwhelming and stressful, as traveling can be. Mostly it's amazing, adventurous, fulfilling and fun!
Why Java Llama- Drink coffee. Do good. ??
Since we have a love of finding great coffee, we will occasionally review different coffee places around the world. Llamas are one of our favorite creatures and we will be searching for them as well. Our 15 year old Nephew Nick created the logo for us, which was super cool!
If you have favorite places you have visited and know exceptional people we should meet on our travels, post them here or PM us!
The first post on our JavaLlama page! Finally :)
We have been traveling for the past couple months and it has been an adventure! More posts to follow with our previous visits.
We arrived in Bali after several days in Australia where it was 60 degrees. Back to the tropical weather with humidity- which Grace loves for some reason. 🌴
It has been interesting living in a Balinese village north of Ubud. (Sounds like 'ooo bahd') The people are kind, friendly, and they live in/outdoors with open air housing. Mornings and evenings air is scented of wood burning fires for some cooking which are carried away as the ocean breezes are frequent . Our first night didn’t go so well. Anthony will have a better account of this but it started with a late arrival in our village after 11pm. We have no AC in this villa and although the wood carved doors and window frames are gorgeous, they are not sealed so all noises and scents come in. I couldn’t sleep due to the dogs barking in the street, then they woke up the chickens and roosters who didn’t stop until midday. With local cock fights happening in the temple this week the roosters have been fairly non stop sounding off!
We haven’t been to the beach yet, but that is coming soon. Finding adventures around town in the midst of working and Grace doing school quickly take up our days. We rented scooters (another adventure driving on the opposite side of the road) and have visited a waterfall with a hidden water temple. Ubud is quite busy with all the tourist shops and guesthouses. So far we have enjoyed all the Balinese food! Sadly Grace has acquired what is called the Bali Belly. A little queasy. Tried coffee at several cafés and Anthony found his favorite cappuccino ever at the new Akamana coffee house ☕️
Travel planning for the next two months is sometimes overwhelming with not being familiar with local places. I have to say it was more than fabulous having friends (Kristy Kropf) and family Suzanne DeRusha, Angela Tasdarian & Aunty Tina, in the past couple locations. ❤️ We miss our family and friends a lot!
If you or someone you know is familiar with local places in Singapore, Thailand (Islands & Chang Mai), and Hanoi/Ha Long Bay, Vietnam we would love to know before we travel there in a few weeks.
Looking forward to more adventures!
Tony Liz Grace
Welcome to our Trog- (Traveling Blog)