Sunday, February 16, 2014

Assault on the senses

Indonesia (and Bali especially) is often stated as an assault on the senses. Now we understand why this is said. There is so much to see, smell, taste, hear, and touch that you become overwhelmed at times.

Sight: Our first impression was of all the sights and scenes that we absorbed as we travelled along scenic paths and roads or through picturesque terraced rice paddies; as we strolled quaint alleys of villages, towns, and cities; as we contemplated the unique traditional architecture as we passed or entered buildings, residences, and temples; as we watched the beautifully decorated traditional dancers. Everywhere the sights were amazing. Handmade carvings of wood, stone, marble, etc. were beyond words to describe. 

We watched as traffic cops helped pedestrians to jaywalk, stopping traffic as they led the pedestrian across! And even more surprising, was seeing so many, very young, motor-scooter drivers. These capable youngsters would ride them to and from school and all around the towns or villages. After all, they grow up as passengers on them from the day they are born.

How old are you? (courtesy of Aaron)

As well as young drivers on motor-scooters, we saw adults on loaded motorcycles or bicycles with their wares to sell. This man on bicycle is actually moving down the street, fully loaded!

He must be in there somewhere...

Smell could be positive or negative. When walking or driving past areas where garbage had been dumped was very bad. We would have to plug our noses until we passed by! The smell of smoke could be rampant as almost all men and most women smoke in Indonesia. (There were also many large billboards advertising cigarettes, something no longer allowed in North America.)

But the aroma of delicious food cooking was very enticing and the odour of stunning flowers intoxicating.

Come close...

Taste: And speaking of food, we found the food in Indonesia to taste delicious whether from roadside stands or restaurants. I can't handle real spicy foods but when we asked for mild, it almost always was. We tasted many dishes that we have never even heard of before and it was usually something that we thoroughly enjoyed.

A large lunch buffet

Due to high humidity, liquid sugar was served with coffee, etc. What we lacked for our taste buds was good wine! It was very difficult to find any wine in most of Indonesia, and when we did, it was quite expensive, so come well stocked.

Hear: Our ears could hear all sorts of different sounds. Throughout the day at specified times was the sound of the Muslim call to prayer. For us, at time, this was an annoying sound but we soon learned to blank it out. And of course there were the typical roosters crowing in the morning. In larger centres, blaring bar music.

Gleeful laughter of adorable children

But there was also the sound of silence when in the outlying areas which was a nice change from city noise.

Touch: What can we say about touch? Well, all the new fruits and vegetables never tried before; the soft leathery pads of monkey and orangutan paws, the soft sands on our feet, the tickle of the butterflies when they would alight, and all the different textures of cloth such as the exquisite silks, linens, cottons, etc.

Super soft feel

Riding in a van bus assaults several senses. Drivers honk their horns as a warning of their approach, quickly swerving through hand-drawn carts, pedestrians, and hundreds of motor-scooters. It's a mystery how they can see where they are going as their windshields are tinted and cluttered with many small round mirrors, gadgets, stuffed animals, etc. usually stretching from 1 side clear over to the other side.

This is 1 of the less cluttered windshields with several items hanging from the rearview mirror, 3 round mirrors stuck to windshield, 5 Happy Faces, stuffed animals all along the dashboard, and tinting at top and bottom, leaving only a narrow strip of clear vision...


All in all, the new and unique stimulating senses added to the memories that we cherish. Yes, Indonesia was definitely a fabulous assault on our senses!

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