Friday, January 29, 2016

Sights to See: Jatiluwih rice terraces, Bali, Indonesia


Bali’s most beautiful rice fields and terraces are said to be in Penebel village in Tabaman, a UNESCO cultural landscape.  The Jatiluwih rice paddies are notable for using traditional Balinese irrigation techniques.  
Jatiluwih rice fields in Bali


If you’re lucky, you’ll witness farmers separating the rice from the stalks.  Mount Batukaru looming in the distance makes the fields particular picturesque.



This is also the area to make a stop at a roadside stand and try some exotic fruits. 

rambutan fruit in Bali
rambutan fruit on stems
 

mangosteen fruit in Bali
mangosteen fruit

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 
 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sights to See: Taman Ayun Temple, Bali, Indonesia


Taman Ayun Temple  in Mengwi village, Badung regency, 17 km northwest of Denpasar.  Taman Ayun translates as “beautiful garden,” and you will indeed find expansive garden landscapes with lotus and fish ponds at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Royalty once sailed small canoes in the property’s vast pools, which are now fenced off to visitors.  Featuring magnificent traditional architectural, this temple complex has three parts, like a body—head, body, leg.  It was built with Chinese architectural inspirations in 1634 by the second king and then-ruler of the Mengwi kingdom, Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan (my guide’s ancestor), and was significantly restored in 1937.  Today cats frolic among the ruins.  Towering tiers of temple shrines make up most of the complex, which is considered the “mother temple” of Mengwi.  (More “mother temples”’ include Besakih Temple in Karangasem, Batukaru Temple in Tabanan, and Batur Temple in Kintamani.)  The fourth and last court, referred to as Utama Mandala, is considered the most sacred.  An intricately ornate central gate is open only during ceremonies to allow in consecrated heirlooms and other ceremonial paraphernalia.  Another gate on the east side allows daily access.  The temple’s three areas denote the three cosmological levels in Balinese Hinduism--the world of man, the realm of gods and deities, and the topmost divine level.  According to ancient texts, the complex represents Mount Mahameru in the “churning of the sea of milk,” or the cosmic formation of the world.  

entrance to Taman Ayun Temple  in Mengwi village, Bali

ticket booth at Taman Ayun Temple  in Mengwi village, Bali

interior gate at Taman Ayun Temple  in Mengwi village, Bali

pathway at Taman Ayun Temple  in Mengwi village, Bali

cat patrols at Taman Ayun Temple  in Mengwi village, Bali

scenic with canal at Taman Ayun Temple  in Mengwi village, Bali

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sights to See: Mount Batur volcano and Lake Tegalalang + a coffee plantation, Bali, Indonesia


Mount Batur volcano and Lake Tegalalang  This volcano last erupted in 2000 but is still active.  People come here to hike the lava trails, see the monkeys, and soak in hot springs (the pools at Toya Devasya are reputedly very good).  The town of Songan is the largest in this regency area, with 10,000 inhabitants.  

Mount Batur volcano and Lake Tegalalang in Bali, Indonesia

viewpoint of Mount Batur volcano and Lake Tegalalang in Bali, Indonesia


On the way back to the south, you can visit a tropical coffee plantation to taste kopi luwak, or civet coffee, made from partly-digested coffee cherries that are eaten and then defecated by the Asian palm civet!  The civet eats the fleshy pulp of the cherry, the seed of which undergoes fermentation in the cat’s stomach.  Though traditionally feces was collected from wild civets, today the jungle cats are kept in cages and force-fed the cherries.  It is reminiscent of the way chickens are caged in the U.S. and ducks are force-fed in France.  The name kopi luwak refers to a way of processing the beans rather than a variety of coffee, and it is considered one of the most expensive coffees in the world.  Perhaps you saw the 2008 movie “The Bucket List,” in which Carter Chambers, played by Morgan Freeman, revels in relaying to Edward Cole, played by Jack Nicholson, how the kopi luwak he is drinking was made.  Cole replies, "You're shitting me!" and Carter replies, "No, the cats beat me to it!"  Pretty funny scene.  The plantation I visited had a spacious back porch overlooking the grounds where a variety of coffees were presented for complimentary tasting, though a fee was charged to try the kopi luwak, which is quite smooth.


caged civet jungle cat on coffee plantation in Bali, Indonesia
caged civet jungle cat


make kopi luwak at coffee plantation in Bali, Indonesia
coffee maker used to prepare kopi luwak


tasting kopi luwak at coffee plantation in Bali, Indonesia

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sights to See: Penglipuran Village, Bali, Indonesia


Penglipuran Village  The families in this traditional village open their houses to visitors every day in exchange for government payment.  It is a great chance for visitors to step through gates and get inside fences to see how local people really live.  We visited a very simple household that raised pigs and chickens in their back yard and had an assortment of fruit trees in their garden.  Another compound kept a cadre of roosters for fighting that were sadly restrained in cramped bamboo cages that were only a little bigger than they were.  Construction in this area uses a lot of bamboo because the wood is produced in great quantity here.  A large temple complex is just uphill from the houses.  Sarongs are available to borrow for a small donation before entering.

entrance to Penglipuran Village in Bali, Indonesia

children in Penglipuran Village in Bali, Indonesia


pig pen in Penglipuran Village in Bali, Indonesia


jack fruit in Penglipuran Village in Bali, Indonesia
jackfruit tree


caged roosters in Penglipuran Village in Bali, Indonesia
caged roosters


temple at Penglipuran Village in Bali, Indonesia


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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sights to See: Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park, Bali, Indonesia


Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park  Jalan Taman.  Daily 9am-5pm.  
museum building at Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park in Bali

This new cultural village features more than 60 traditional houses—some are hundreds of years old--and lets you see early, current, and future Indonesia.  
traditional houses at Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park in Bali

Visitors hear traditional music, see natives of various ethnic groups and cultures wearing their traditional costumes, and view the making of traditional crafts.



traditional weaving demonstration at Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park in Bali

A Puppet & Textile Museum is here, plus a miniature replica of the ancient Borobudur Temple located near Yogyakarta in Java (constructed of volcanic stone in the 8th century and a wonder of the ancient world, it is a UNESCO site and the largest Buddhist temple in the world).
miniature replica of Borobudur Temple in Java at Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park in Bali

Dapur Nusa Restaurant serves refined Indonesian cuisine with a view of the surrounding mountains and valley.
spring rolls at Dapur Nusa restaurant in Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park in Bali

tomato soup at Dapur Nusa restaurant in Taman Nusa Indonesian cultural park in Bali

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images and video ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sights to See: Bali, Indonesia


Top 10 Practical Tips for Visiting Bali

1.  The national motto of Indonesia is “unity with diversity.”  The country is home to 300-plus ethnicities and 700-plus languages.  These people are what make visiting Bali special.  “Namaste” was said to me frequently, and I enjoyed saying it back.  

2.  The majority of the more than 4 million people who live on Bali are Hindu, so dress is less conservative than in the rest of Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim (in fact, holding 12.7% of the world's Muslims, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world).  You should cover to your knees and shoulders when visiting Hindu temples.  Sandals and flip-flops are the most comfortable footwear. 

visitor in sarong at Penglipuran Traditional Village temple in Bali
Carole in sarong at Penglipuran Traditional Village temple
flip-flops for sale in Bali
flip-flops for sale in Bali
3.  Almost every house and business has a shrine (or “pura”) tucked into a corner, often with an umbrella as a sign of respect.  Fresh offerings of flowers and fruit are made daily.  When you see this offering on the ground, it is meant to keep evil spirits away; try not to step on it.  Statues are covered in black-and-white checked cloth to keep a balance between evil and good.

shrine offerings in Bali
shrine offerings
offering to evil spirit in Bali
offering to evil spirit

statue covered in black-and-white checked cloth to keep a balance between evil and good in Bali
statue covered in black-and-white checked cloth to keep a balance between evil and good
4.  Bali has no malaria.  Check this website for current updates on malaria status.  However, Bali does have Indonesia’s highest incidence of dengue fever, and chikungunya is found there--both serious illnesses transferred by mosquitoes. 

5.  Much of the time, Bali is hot and humid.  The best weather is in the driest months--April through October--and summer is best.  November through March are the wet monsoon months.

6.  Items to pack along for a trip:
sunscreen:  Because locals rarely use it, a good sunscreen can be hard to find, expensive, and might be ineffective with an expired pull date.
mosquito repellent:  Preferably with Deet.  Though I wound up returning my mosquito spray--which I dragged half-way around the world--because I didn’t use it or need it, you should pack some along in case you run into these pesky critters.

gift shop at Sylvia Hotel on Flores Island in Indonesia
gift shop at Sylvia Hotel on Flores Island in Indonesia
7.  You will run into squat toilets.  It is a good idea to carry along toilet paper because many restrooms are not stocked.  Remember to put used toilet paper in the trashcan beside the toilet; sewer systems often cannot process it.  Hand sanitizer is helpful when you find yourself without soap or towels. 

toilet sign at Sylvia Hotel on Flores Island in Indonesia

8.  In Bali there are no fixed prices.  You bargain for virtually everything--car and drivers, guides, souvenirs, accommodations (and a free breakfast).  But not at five-star hotels.  A two-hour massage costs about $40.

9.  Tipping is not expected.

10.  Cars drive on the “wrong”/left side of the road, and an international driver’s license is required.  Most people hire a car and driver to tour.  Renting a motorbike is another option; a helmet is required.

parked motor scooters in Bali


More things to do in Bali.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.   

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers