Happier and luckier

Feb 2013

If you want to experience something different then go to Bali. My wife Heidi and I spent 2 weeks in Sanur at a lovely beach resort. The Sanur Beach Hotel was supposed to be a family resort but turned out to be packed with retired Russians, Ozzies, Dutch and Scandinavians. Strangely enough we did not find many Norwegians. With a good portion of jet lag we arrived after 30 hours of air time via Doha and Singapore.

Sanur is a relatively quiet place with a few shopping streets where you will everything you need for beaching. The beach itself is long and sandy protected by a reef 500 meters or so outside. As such this is no place for surfers. a few years ago a cargo ship stranded on the reefs and is still a sitting duck reminding us of natures devastating power. I asked one of the locals what happened. It appeared to be no storm but drinks, read Bintang beer.

January is in the midst of rainy season in Bali. Long time before going there we checked the Norwegian weather channel YT.NO and were disappointed every time. Rain, rain and more rain. But reality was that we had sunshine every day and just a few heavy rain showers in between. Actually the rain was very much appreciated, it sort of cleared the air and gave way to the fumes of tropical flowers. The Sanur Beach Hotel which we stayed at was an oasis protected from super friendly sellers and masseurs. We thought about doing an all inclusive package but were glad we did not. Breakfast was great but lunched and dinners were enjoyed at beach bars or street restaurants. Food was delicious and we managed to stay away from Bali bellies most of the time.

You donut go to Bali without testing out massage. it seemed like that was the biggest business in Sanur with spas in all price ranges. We did a total of 10 hours of various treatments and they were all terrific. Compared to Norwegian price level an hour of message cost 5%! Beat that!

Beach life in Sanur is pleasant but one cannot just lay on the beach. The heat and humidity prevents the most extreme activity levels, but we did a day of mountain biking with a guide. A car took us to the high volcanic mountains were we took of downhill through jungle, villages and rice fields. We stopped and visited a town house and looked at how locals live. They seem to be happy and enjoying life with as little they have of earthly means. All children waved at us and wished us a good ride. Halfway we stopped and drank coconut milk fresh from the trees. It was downhill so the only strain was sore hands after all the braking.

We also visited the cultural centre Ubud. To be off season the city was quite crowded with tourists and locals. 95% of the Balinese population is Hindu and you will find Buddhas everywhere. They are a religious people and can easily see that from their daily offering to the Gods. They make small basks of bamboo leaves which they fill up with at lease 5 different flowers, spices or food. This to show their gratitude for life. A nice gesture.

Ubud is full of outlets for this and that and has a large art school. You don´t go to these places without leaving some cash. We bought and brought home a large and beautiful Buddha painting. Obviously the price is a matter of bargaining and the point is to make everyone happy. A good deal is when you pay 50% of asking price. Buddha will be well placed in our living room.

To break up the daily routine we jumped on a boat to neighboring island Gili Trawangan. It´s a small island next to Lombok. The population there is 50% Hindu and 50% Islam. It means that you can buy a Bintang in one shop but not next door. Tourists there are mainly backpackers and surfers. Motorized vehicles are replaced by horse carts and bicycles. As such it´s a very quiet place but beware the flies. They are very aggressive and feed from all the horse shit.

One day we picked up trough the grapevine that there would be a funeral close to the hotel. We strolled along the beach and finally heard the bells and chimes. The Balinese cremate their dead publicly and make a happy seremony out of it. No tears just music and song. To speed up the cremation they fired up gas blowers. Quite interesting!

All in all Bali is worth while visiting and we had a fantastic time down there. Everything was exotic to a degree which made us think how different life can be on the other side of the planet. Terim kasi.