Saturday, December 07, 2013

Bali circuit

Time had come to renew our VISA that would allow us 30 more days in the country. Well that, we thought, should be a simple exercise. However, this being Indonesia, as the intrepid traveller comes to realize, that anything involving officialdom is bound to be overcomplicated and time consuming to the point of comical if it wasn't so frustrating.

After being directed to the wrong Immigration office, we eventually found our way to the correct one. With passports and other official papers in hand, we filled out forms and submitted them for processing.

"What's that you say? We have to come back later?"
"Yes, Come back in 3 days." (That would be 3 working days plus the weekend.)
"Okay, then we will get our extension?"
"Oh no Sir, that is just for you to make the payment. Then after that you can return 3 days after that to get your passports with the extension."

So with days to kill, we wanted to make the most of it. Our friend Joel, who we first met in the Banda Islands back in October and lives most of his time in Bali, would be our gracious host for these next few days for some off-the-beaten-track exploration.

Joel had his motorcycle and we had rented a scooter for the duration of our Bali stay, so we at least had wheels and were mobile. We had some fun times playing your typical tourist for a bit when Joel shared with us his favourite beach, stores, bars, and restaurant haunts in the tourist area. Then we headed out, negotiating the narrow winding back roads, passing the ubiquitous terraced rice fields that quilted the lush valleys and hillsides and through compact little villages that displayed the rich culture of the indigenous people.

One stop Joel showed us was a stunning vacation home of a US lawyer friend that was perched on a ridge looking out over a stream below and out to a picture perfect valley.


The grounds were magnificent with all the surrounding flowers, lily pond, bushes, shrines, and even this whimsical statue...


As we coasted down from the ridge, we bypassed a hard-working woman drying rice spread out on tarps. Indonesia is the 3rd largest producer of rice in the world and is a staple for all classes. We ordered the delicious and omnipresent Nasi Goreng (fried rice) several times at restaurants.


Our route looped us past Mount Agung that looked down at us from 2,567 metres, then along the rim of Mount Batur (1,412 metres), now a volcanic crater. As an interesting fact, Batur, when it blew, displaced more square cubic metres of earth than the famous Krakatoa eruption! From the rim, we dropped down into the crater's bottom where we found a nice fish lunch at a little hotel by the lake.

Another day when we headed out, our 1st stop was at Joel's favourite attraction, the Butterfly Garden. Joel, a butterfly afficionado and collector, named any and all the many species with a pleasant measure of excitement. It was very impressive to see the many varied sizes, colours, and patterns of these delicate creations, not to mention the interactive life cycle displays. We even watched as they hatched from their cocoons!

Beautifully butterfly

Can you see the shape of the snake head at the tips of this fabulous moth?

Earth-toned moth

When first hatching, their wings are still damp so they cannot fly until their wings have dried. They will slowly and silently start to flap their wings and do not object to being placed or landing on the visitors. At 1 point, I had 5 on me when I exclaimed "No more please!"

2 very large butterflies on Judy

The later part of the day was spent touring the back villages and rice paddies. Joel directed us through the middle of this terraced rice paddy on our bikes as we looked all around in amazement before heading back to the dense bustle of the city.

Driving right through the middle!

After years of travel through many varied countries, you learn to make the best of delays like those precipitated by redundant bureaucracy and this was 1 example of how this delay gave us some great experiences to remember.

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