Sunday, May 31, 2009

Living in Bali & Volunteering

I am thoroughly enjoying my stay here in Bali! I have been fortunate to be able to make an excellent volunteer connection both with the SOS "Village" and with the Handicapped Children Home.

There are many ways to get around Bali, including renting a motorbike, but I chose to hire a driver .... Iyou. It costs me between $20 and $40 per day for Iyou to take me to one of the volunteer sites. Sometimes I'd also pay for the gas, so it got to be a little more. SOS Village in Tabanan is the furthest, takes the longest time, and hence costs the most too! Iyou is a very safe driver, which one needs here.... since traffic has an ebb and flow to it that I'm not sure I'm willing to flow with on my own just yet!

Since my arrival in Bali, I've been staying in the south in the town of Legian which is right next to Kuta. The red points to Legian on the map. SOS Village in Tabanan is indicated by the white pointer. Although not that far .... the roads here are narrow .... what we would think of as a single lane road, has two way traffic, with parked vehicles on the sides and motorcycles that continually are zipping in and out of traffic.

Add a funeral procession and the traffic can be a nightmare!

I'm staying in a "surfer" hotel ... so am within easy walking distance of the beach. My little room is on the third floor. Really basic, but it suits me just fine. It has a fan, and since the nights do cool off a bit, that is comfortable for me. I've been staying at different hotels .... all of them very delightful... the staff very helpful.

The room is costing me about $20 per day, so with the cost of the hotel room, food, water (must buy bottled water!) and transportation, I seem to be spending between $40 and $70 per day. Not bad for staying on the "Island of the gods!"

SOS Children Village in Tabanan

The orphans at SOS Village in Tabanan are so respectful, and so eager to learn!

SOS is a large international organization, working in some 28 countries, with its mission being to help children. Headquartered out of Austria, SOS has 14 centers around Indonesia. The "Village" in Tabanan is the largest center SOS operates in all of Indonesia.

The grounds of SOS Tabanan are absolutely beautiful! The "Village" consists of 12 large cement houses, each one with three rooms: one for the adult who serves as the parent for the children, and two rooms where the children sleep. Each house has between 9 and 10 children living at it.

Sunday I had my driver take me the hour from Legian where I'm staying, to the SOS Village, where a special art exhibit was going on.

The children from SOS Village and Salama Children Home had their artwork on display for the day. This exhibit, in addition to being a fund raisers, since all the works of art were for sale, also served to raise awareness of the work of these NGOs in Bali.

John became my guide for part of the day as he showed me the art exhibit and told me about his hopes and dreams for the future. Now 18 years old, he plans to attend college.

The day was a fun one, with my spending most of my time with the children, encouraging them with their English, all-the-while, learning about Bali, Balinese culture and SOS Village.

The children of SOS Village.

So, so cute!

Tanah Lot Temple at Sunset

The sacred Hindu temple of Tanah Lot ..... located on the sea in Tabanan.

Tanah Lot Temple at sunset.

In the 15th century, a priest named Nirartha while traveling along the coast of Bali came across a beautiful rock formation in the sea. He asked the fishermen who offered him gifts, to build a shine on the rock. Nirartha believed this to be a holy place of worship to the Balinese sea gods.

The belief is that poisonous sea snakes live at the base of the rock formation, guarding the temple from evil spirits and intruders. In addition, a giant snake, created out of the scarf of Nirartha, also protects this sacred temple.

Offerings are made at the temple on the mainland, close to the sacred Tanah Lot Temple.

And extension of the large Hindu Tanah Lot Temple located on a massive rock jutting out into the sea.

Come to a sacred Hindu temple and..... well, play with a giant snake!

Mystical characters, from an ancient era....

Tanah Lot Temple .... faces and mystical beings roam the grounds!

Bali Funeral Process & Cremation

Men with a container of burning incense .... ready for the procession to begin.

Musicians waiting for the procession to begin.

Individual women carry on their heads, items to be used in the sacred rites at the cremation site.

Musicians in the funeral procession.

The brightly colored hand made float carrying the remains of the five deseased family members, begins it final procession to the cremation site.

The float carrying the remains of the deceased approaches an intersection, where the men carrying the float will run around the intersection, in an effort to confuse the spirits of the deceased.

As the crowd watched, the float was twirled round and round and round at the intersection.

Individual cremation sites were built, using the trunks of green palm trees.

Sacred burial rites performed on the deceased remains as the Hindu priest rings a bell.

Hindu priest performing special rites prior to the cremation.

View of the float, hand carried by men to the cremation site.

Women assist the Hindu priest with the rituals prior to lighting the cremation fires.

Close up view of the inside of the casket, after the remains of one of the deceased was place in it in preparation for the cremation fires to be lite.

The fires are lite and the cremation of the remains begins.

The cremation fires burn, releasing the deceased individuals' spirits to leave their body for the last time.

As the cremation fires burn, the dancers performed an elaborate slow motion dance, showing the deceased spirits the way to paradise.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This is Bali.... too!

The food in Bali is delicious!

A plate of rice forms the base, then one can add any number of other items, vegetables, tofu, chicken ... the list goes on....

Each day the menu changes, the combination of items to be added are new, and each day more delicious than the previous!

A local Indonesian restaurant ... in the window, bowls of all the various items one can add to the basic plate of rice and sauce.

Bali is famous for its terraced rice fields. The work of these rice farmers is truly a work of art.

The rice fields are outstanding.

The Indian Ocean here is.... well... you can see for yourself!

I've put my toes in the water..... not sure I'm ready for a surf board just yet!

A short walk from my hotel is Bali's "Ground Zero."

The Memorial to those who were killed in the nightclub bombing in 2002.