island has been a delightful surprise to us. We were ready to be disappointed by
Bali, as we were with Tahiti, having heard that it has become quite
commercialised. We thought it might be like the Ibiza of the Indian Ocean but
have found something quite different, the place is still wonderful and we wished
we could stay longer. The Kuta region in the south is an area of heavy
development with budget tourists facilities and busy beach activity, some say
seedy but we didn't go there so cannot comment. Bali is a big island with
beautiful, lush country side full of emerald rice paddies, orchards,
vineyards and fields of vegetables. It has a wonderful coastline and is
steeped in a unique Hindu culture which makes it so different from the rest of
Indonesia. It really is a special place with this rich version of the Hinduism
replacing the austerity of the Islamic regions further west and east. The
buildings, temples and street sculpture are highly elaborate, spiritual and
manifestation guarding the entrance to a road, they are everywhere.
Having had a
successful stay in peaceful Serangan hidden in the hectic south of Bali, we
sailed back northward. We stayed close to the coast to avoid what can be
powerful counter currents and the tactic paid off, we made good headway
ploughing north following the coast toward the rally meeting place of Lovina, a
relaxed, quiet resort on the north coast of Bali. Apart from Kupang this was the
busiest stop of the whole rally with 70 boats crowding the anchorage and taking
advantage of the restaurants and the interesting excursions. Like many places we
have been in Indonesia there is no quay for dinghys, the beach was steep to so
getting ashore and out of the dinghy sometimes required a mighty leap before the
next wave rolled in to turn it about and soak the crew, we didn't always make
it. Protected by reefs offshore the beach is grey black being volcanic sand
which by mid-day was too hot to walk on in bare feet.
our usual welcoming speeches, dancing displays and dinners but with the Bali
course Bali is well known for its dancing and we were treated to a number of
displays which were exquisite; the hand, foot and head control is
were some of the younger dancers nervously waiting for their turn.
the odd one out.
restaurants were extremely good, if sometimes a little
les pieds et bec? (Look carefully).
One of the events
put on for us was a Bull Race which consisted of pairs of bulls harnessed to a
sledge on which sat the "jockey".
bulls like to look their best for a show! Magnificent animals doted on by their
owner/trainers who have them trotting like horses and dressed to
these events: dances, bull races and even the gala dinners are accompanied by
Gamalan Orchestras. These consist mostly of xylophone like instruments that they
bash away on with ornate hammers accompanied by wailing flutes, large drums and
the odd gong. It looks highly skilled and there are some impressively
complicated rhythmic patterns in the music but it is a bit of an aquired taste.
It is very atmospheric on a sultry tropical night as the dancers pose their way
through their dances but you would not want a CD of it.
of the happiest times for us are times spent with the local people and on our
walk back from the bull racing we met this lively bunch of students who were
keen to converse in English.
Ages from 17 to 28 and training for work on cruise liners, they were a
polite and friendly crew, keen to speak English and practice their skills. We
met them on and off over two days and eventually met their teacher who was in
Peter being taught a Balinese dance in the car park, we had a lot of fun