Bali is a very spiritual place. There’s a temple or two every half a mile or so, and a shrine every 50 feet. Statues and statues and statues everywhere, at doorways, bridges, street corners, businesses, and anywhere one will fit. The people live in cemetery like structures made of elaborate brick and stone work. A catholic man I met from West Timor said that the Balinese practice Hindu, and that they worship not God but goats (ghosts).
I rented a motor scooter for a week ($35us!), and I am convinced that there is a god or ghosts or some form of higher power protecting me and everyone here from killing each other off on the roads.
We drive on the left side, and there a no stop signs or traffic lights. The roads are very narrow, and every ride is a game (hundreds of games) of polite chicken as the hordes of motorbikes compete with minivans, bemos (small public transit vehicles), and god forbid the occasional cement or vegetable truck. People often ride 3 and even 4 to a bike, and carrying everything from flowers, to vegetables, luggage, furniture, and even grandma sitting sideways in her traditional skirt.
I had to fork over a 250,000rp on the spot bribe to a polisi ($25us) for going the wrong way on a one way. So was everyone else but I was the only tourist. Otherwise I might have had to “take care this in Denpasar”, where the fine for driving w/o international license is two million rupiahs ($200us). I was very apologetic and promised to be careful. Later everyone said I could have gotten off with 10,000 to 100,000.
Needless to say I did not renew the rental and just stayed mostly on the side gangs (little side alleys) from the hotel to Callego Massage and Warang, at Ganesha Beach. A religious joyride in itself, the trip there is about two miles down a long, narrow road that winds and snakes through the high walled compounds of the high end resorts from Legian to Seminyak. Speed bumps keep the pace comfortable. There are plates of woven banana leaf filled with flowers, fruit, rice, fragrant oils, and other offerings to the spirits left at every statue and shrine (about every 20 feet). There’s a Buddha statue shop with chickens and roosters pecking about.
At the entrances to the big resorts, there are usually two or more security guards with dogs and mirrors checking each entrant for bombs. Big, strapping, hunky men in midnight blue combat uniforms, these guys watch every passer by with suspicion. It must be awfully boring looking for terrorists all day every day. I nodded and waved at one that was glaring really hard one day and his face lit up with a big happy smile. So every time after I did the same and got warm responses every time. Is this another entry in the cheap thrills contest? I got the nerve to ask for a picture once but they politely refused.
After a left turn here, another windy road and a right turn there (no street signs), past the public beach and down a country road through a rice paddy with a trash fire here and there. The road becomes a bumpy dirt road, across a narrow wooden pedestrian bridge that crosses a babbling brook, and there’s Callego’s. There’s already 20 or 30 motorbikes parked in the dirt parking lot, and two cow sized goats (real ones) tied to a tree and munching everything green in sight.
Next, you walk through a not so well tended garden with about 15 Buddha and Ganesha statues, past the restrooms, and to the left is a much more immaculately manicured garden with 20 or so tables on one side and 20 or so beach lounge chairs on the other. 30 or more statues including one of a big penis with a monkey climbing up the side. On a busy day the place is filled with really, really good looking mostly local guys, all looking and flirting and giggly. Very nice waiters attend to your food and beverage requests, and the beach is just past the palm tree lined fence that keeps the annoying chachka sellers out.
For just 60,000rp ($6us), you can get a one hour massage. 90,000 for an hour and a half. The most sublime experience as I listened to the symphony of the waves, birds, insects singing and chanting to Ganesha as I laid face down, a bowl full of semi fragrant flowers just beneath the hole in the massage table. The masseurs are very good looking too, very competent but strictly non sexual (I was told they were straight).
After wards I would enjoy a fresh grilled piece of tuna with veggies, or a salad nicoise, and watch the sun go down with a bin tang beer or iced tea, all for less than $5! Some cutie pie would always manage to join me at my table and sometimes end up in my bed back at the room. Not a bad way to experience mid life crisis, eh?