Gatherings – a ritualistic coming together to celebrate past memories, lives of those passed on, or new lives together.
Our journey to Indonesia started in Bali. Marg was returning for a reunion of her Canada World Youth group that had been on a cultural exchange program 34 years earlier. Peter had almost not bothered going, as he figured it was just another beach resort that he could avoid visiting, but changed his mind after seeing Eat, Pray Love and the town of Ubud, featured in the movie. Bali seemed to offer more than just beaches, and would be a worthwhile destination. In order to make this a truly memorable trip we added a five day journey to Sulawesi, the island Marg had lived in for three moths during her time there in 1977 and home to Tana Toraja, a UNESCO world Heritage Site, famous for elaborate funerals and the Tongkonan houses, shaped like water buffalo horns, that these Christian Animist Toraja people live in. This was capped by a mixed Western / Batak (Sumatran) Christian wedding of the daughter of Dessy, one of Indonesians Marg met while on the exchange program so many years ago.
We spent the first two days in Sanur, a relatively quiet beach area in Southern Bali, on the eastern side of the peninsula. Marg flew 22 hours to Bali from Vancouver via Taiwan. Peter joined her in Bali after spending 5 days in Taiwan on business. Trip Advisor had rated Pondok Ayu one of the best guest houses in Sanur, and it did not disappoint. An intimate place with 5 rooms and two staff to provide a tropical breakfast of crepes and fruit was the perfect antidote to a full day trans Pacific crossing. The humid sunny morning was perfect for lazily walking to the beach through the back alleys of Sanur. Peter was disappointed by the beach, which had brown sand, a high surf, and lots of garbage everywhere. This was not the Caribbean! However, the general relaxed nature of the area with its small family owned souvenir stores with interesting names, lack of hassle and small stone Hindu temples with offerings to the Gods made this an interesting place to look around.
This was in contrast to our afternoon destination – Kuta Beach, famed for surfing and the Bali Boys! Kuta was a cleaner beach than Sanur and had a huge range of shops including a Batik Keris clothing store – known to have the best Batik shirts in Indonesia, and a place we had been to 15 years earlier when were in Java. Peter bought two Batik shirts, including a long sleeve one for the wedding in Jakarta. We also saw the famous Kopi Luwak, the coffee that is harvested from the dung of the Civet cat, and which sells for more than $30 a pound.
Kuta is also over run with Western commercial outlets including everyone’s favourite coffee chain, and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory!
That night we caught up with some of the others there for the reunion, and had a fine Indonesian meal at a beach side restaurant in Sanur.