Monday, February 04, 2008

The Fight between Good and Evil

Day 2 – Monday 21st Jan 2008

The day started early. We had a heavy continental breakfast at the hotel. I particularly enjoyed the omelette and the pancakes. Breakfast was accompanied by Balinese music. I’m not sure what the instrument is called, but it is sort of a bamboo xylophone.

By 8.30 am we were already at the hotel lobby waiting for our chartered car. On the previous day, the ‘Nasi Padang’ restaurant owner gave his contact number. I gave him a call before I went to bed and asked him to arrange for a car. For the first time, we met our driver, Sam, and his ‘co-pilot’, Bambang. Both of them not native Balinese. Bambang is from Java, and Sam from Lombok.

Our first stop was to see Barong Dance. Before you actually see the dance, I highly recommend you to read the ‘synopsis’ provided at the entrance. Otherwise, all the characters and acts would just be a puzzle. To add to the confusion, the whole play are in Balinese dialect. Roughly, Barong Dance or play is about the fight between good and evil. Barong itself is a mystical animal that represent the good. Another character to note is the Rangda. Rangda represents the evil. Both have their own followers.

If you look closely, throughout the play, there’s two type of Rangda – one with the white hair, and another with black hair. White haired Rangda is the evil spirit that managed to redeem itself before it was killed (hence, went to heaven). Unfortunately, like real life, evil lives on. One of Rangda followers took over her place. The whole dance symbolise the continuous fight between good and evil in life.

Next stop, Nusa Dua for some water sport activities. My dear friends who went to Bali earlier did parasailing. Being ‘vertically challenged’, parasailing is definitely out of my list! That left me with snorkelling, and scuba diving. After some persuasion, I finally agreed to go for a scuba diving!

The diving instructor spoke fluent English, so I had no trouble understanding him. I learned some basic sign language. I also learned how to equalize my ear pressure, and what to do if water seeped into my mask. Then we went to the open sea in a wooden boat.

In the boat, he prepped me up. He helped me with the mask. He put flippers on my feet. He fastened a belt with some weigh stone around my waist. I thought we would wear the tank on the boat, but no. The instructor jumped into the sea with the tanks. Then, with flippers on my feet, weigh stone around my waist, I followed him into the open sea.

Oh God! What I’m I getting my self into?

I don’t swim well. I only know how to swim to save my life. Jumping into the open sea? With weigh stone around my waist? I must have been out of my mind!

The instructor caught me before I went under. After sort of ‘manhandling’ me, he finally managed to strapped the tank on me. I soon discovered that the straps have some kind of inflatable device. So, I didn’t have to put any effort to float myself (and the heavy tank!)

I bit the mouthpiece and tried to breathe. Then I realized, my breathing was short and frequent. And doing so with a mouthpiece was a bit tiring. I force myself to take long deep breath! After a while, I found my rhythm. The instructor deflated the straps and we began to descend slowly into the sea. Every metre or so, we stopped to pressurize our ears.

There were many colourful fishes all shape and sizes. Unfortunately with my myopic eyes, beyond my arm length, I could only see colours. The instructor led me to a huge coral that looked very much like a brain. The instructor asked me to hold on to it with one hand. He gave me a packet of bread. Before long, I was swarmed with fishes wanting to get a bite.

Before I knew it, we had to surface. It was a great experience.

Next on the list was water sport for my little master. This thing called “Big Marble”. The operators insisted that it was safe and involved no dip in the water but I beg to differ. It might be fun for adults, but I don’t recommend it for small kids. They put you in a rubber float, and you held on to it as a speedboat dragged it. I was in the speed boat. When the boat made sharp turn, I felt as if I could be ‘thrown’ out of the boat!

After the adrenalin rush, we headed to Penyu Island to calm our nerve. It was some sort of turtle sanctuary. The guy also have some owls, snakes, and a few other animal. The guide told my little master to climb on one of the big turtle. My little master, being his compassionate self, refused the offer. He did, however, took the offer to hold a snake. We quench our thirst at a small stall on the island then headed back to mainland.

Bambang and Sam already waiting at the jetty. We went for lunch and then proceed to a batik factory. I had learned batik painting during my art and craft class eons ago. There’s a slight different. In my class eons ago, we would mount the cloth on a frame. Then we would draw wax onto it (also call ‘menchanting’). In the factory, they simply held the cloth in their hands! By then, my little master was already tired and fast asleep in the car.

We made another stop at Celuk. This village specialize in silverworks. I stayed in the car with my little master. I’m not much of a shopper anyway. Bambang and Sam offered to take us to another village that specialized in woodcarving. We had to decline. We were quite tired. So we headed back to the hotel.

Later, we walked to the beachfront McD for dinner. We all went to bed early.

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