We have officially left the island of Java and are now heading westward; our first stop Bali. The journey to get here by land included a 3 hour bus delay followed by a 6 hour bus ride and then a 4 hour ferry ride to finally arrive at Denpasar, the capital of Bali. Let me just add a few details about the joys of traveling overland. Our day usually begins by trekking to a bus stop or negotiating with a bemo (small bus) driver for a fair price as they all see tourist money and charge exorbitant fees. We then make it to the bus station and have to walk around looking for the right bus as there is no central ticket office; all the tickets are sold on the bus. This usually involves a lot of hand motions trying to explain our destination and time of departure. Upon finding the right bus, we then negotiate the price again before boarding. The buses are quite lively and are often filled with both human and animal passengers. We sometimes find treats to eat, as once the bus pulled over so the driver could get coffee and a lady rolled out a mat on the sidewalk and was offering lontong (steamed rice in a banana leaf) and Sabeen joined her on the street for some dinner, the locals loved it. I opted to sit on the makeshift table.
Getting back to Bali, we stayed for one night in Denpasar and then moved out to Ubud, the cultural heart of the area to spend a few days.
Ubud has art galleries, great restaurants, live cultural traditional shows, markets, and artists selling handicrafts. We spent two nights in Ubud and caught a Ramayana (traditional) dance show at the Ubud palace, an open air theater. The remainder of our time in Ubud was spent peering inside art galleries, walking to greener than green rice paddies, and of course eating Padang. We have actually been eating quite a lot of Padang, which is basically a Rumah Makan (restaurant) where food is displayed in a window, you walk in, get a plate of rice, and are offered choices of food, and point to your selection of dishes. It's cheap, fast, and delicious and sometimes a bit of a mystery as we don't always know the selections on offer.
Bali is primarily Hindu and many homes have a temple at their entrance and in the morning, women take incense and place offerings of rice and other foods at the steps of the temples and at homes and restaurants as part of their daily prayers. Every evening, women make little baskets from palm leaves and place flowers and incense in it and place these on temples and at the foot of various Hindu gods.