The time had come for Nate and I to cross one more item off our bucketlist for Japan: Hike Mt. Fuji! Would we survive?? Read below to find out! (And tips and info listed at the bottom of the blog for planning your trip to Fuji)
As I stated before religion is a part of the Balinese daily life. The Balinese Hinduism mixes aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and animism, which is the belief that souls and spirits can be found in all things. They incorporate this religion throughout their daily lives, praying and setting out offerings multiple times a day - striving to maintain the balance between good and evil in order to prevent chaos. There are ceremonies throughout the island temples almost every day of the year it seems. One of our drivers explained that there are lucky days and bad days on their calendar. Weddings and ceremonies are held on lucky days, and if someone passes away, they must wait to have the funeral procession on a good day and not a bad/unlucky day.
Walking around Bali, you will spot canang (small, square, daily offerings) made up of coconut leaves everywhere (sidewalks, in front of houses/businesses, etc). These are placed in strategic spots around the home and family temple, or business to honor both the higher and lower spirits of the household in order to balance the negativity with the positivty and ensure family harmony. We even woke up to one every day outside of our villa. The family temples located at the entrance of the buildings are believed to house spirits. This is why you normally spot them with a sarong wrapped around them and possibly an umbrella over them - to protect them and the offerings from the rain. The sarongs are usually black and white plaid or yellow. The black and white color symbolizes the dualism of life such as good/evil, bright/darkness, or even men/women and yellow is for secrecy and purity.
Each part of the offering has a meaning. For example, the flowers represent the heart/sincerity/love and each color flower honors a different god. Fire/incense are for the spirits, fruit/food is for good luck with whatever you're doing, and a small bank note completes the offering representing a selfless essence.
Walking around Bali, you are constantly reminded of their religion, their faith, their gods, and their devotion. It's a constant reminder to be thankful and grateful for what you have. It's one of the things that I enjoyed most about Bali and seeing these daily, colorful reminders would bring a smile to my face.
After 3 days in Seminyak, we headed farther in the island towards Ubud. We were able to hire a driver, Era (he is awesome) through our hotel to drive us to our last hotel for the trip, while stopping at a few sites along the way.
The first spot we stopped was Pura Tirta Empul, discoverd in AD 926, which is one of Bali's most important temples located near the town of Tampaksiring. The name of the temple comes from the ground water source named "Tirta Empul" and is the source of the Pakerisan river.
How to describe Bali?? Three words: Religious, scooters, and GREEN! Religion and offerings touch everyone's lives multiple times a day. While walking the streets (no matter where you are) you will see little offerings all over the place, filled with flowers, food, and coins, thanking their gods for their daily blessings - which I think is pretty neat. To remember how thankful you are for what you have multiple times a day is a good reality check, and most of the Balinese people have way less, and live off way less than we do in America (or Japan!).
The streets are narrow, and most of where you drive is surrounded by lush, tropical greenery, or green, beautiful rice fields as far as the eye can see. Along the way, the streets are littered with little shops selling tourist souvenirs, massages, or food. Constant honking can be heard as motorists honk to let other cars or scooters know they are there and passing. A much more civilized honking ensues than what we experienced in China #respectfulhonking
Our trip began with 3 nights in Seminyak (a beach town) and ended with 4 nights in Ubud (a hipster town located in the middle of the island surrounded by lush greenery and rice fields).
On our way to Bali, we had a 23 hour layover in Taipei, so we thought: Sweet! Two countries for the price of one :) We took this opportunity to explore this island near where we live, even though their timezone is 1 hour behind ours - giving us an extra hour to explore. (FYI - Okinawa is a quick 1.5 hour flight from Taipei (Tokyo is 2.5 hrs flight from us)). When my dad had visited us in March, he kept saying that Taiwan had a very similar landscape, vegetation, and buildings, similar to Okinawa. (Think rolling green hills with tropical vegetation and cement buildings to combat the typhoons). I would say his assessment was pretty spot on.
Our flight arrived around 10:30am, so we hopped in a taxi and headed to our hotel to drop our bags off. Luckily, our $40 per night hotel was across the street from a metro stop, making it easy for us to get around the city.
Nate and I decided to spend July 4th, 2016 camping in the Keramas. The Keramas is a cluster of around 20 different islands only 35 km west of our main island of Okinawa. Out of the 20 islands, there are 4 that are inhabited: Toshiki, Zamami, Aka, and Geruma. The Keramas are known for their beauty, excellent diving, crystal blue waters, snorkeling, whale watching, and turtles!
We were going to camp on Zamami island, but first, we took one of the ferries from Naha, Okinawa over there - which took about 2 hrs. Lucky for Ricky Bobby - we were able to bring him with us!
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!