Day 3 of Bali held more interesting things for us. We really love this country, it is very organic and the people are so down to earth and sweet! The community is very important to them, and we find that they take pride in their country and know a lot about it, which makes for a very pleasant experience.
At each country we go to I ask about the school system, as education is a fundamental aspect of a strong nation. I find it interesting that people in each place so far have spoken highly of their public education systems and really value the experience that their children are receiving. School in Bali is held 6 days a week, 7:00 am to 2:00 pm Monday through Friday, and a half day Saturday. They also have homework. They only get 1 month off for Summer Break, and that is observed in August. They also have the Hindu holidays off as well as Christmas and New Years. Although they themselves do not celebrate the Christmas holiday, they take it off for their visitors.
One of our favorite Bali experiences was had today, and that was going to a local open market called “Pasar Umum Gianyar”. It was absolutely incredible! The place opens at 3:00 am and runs until 11:00 am, when it is packed up and the location is used as a parking lot. There are flowers, jewelry, offering baskets, fruits, vegetables, desserts, and fish everywhere!
They also have food trucks, and we had Chicken Satay with Cassava there as per scavenge hunt option. We washed that down with Longtong, which is a fizzy tea-like drink.
Back in the cab we spoke to our driver in more depth about the Hindu religion. We learned a whole lot and will not detail everything here, as we must, of course, retain some new information for the book that we plan to write very soon. However, I will relay a bit of the information now.
The Hindus give offerings to both good and bad spirits- one to please, the other to appease. We passed a place where they have cockfights for this purpose. They take the blood of the dead rooster (who obviously lost) and sprinkle it on offerings to the bad spirits, then eat the meat.
When you see offerings on the ground in front of a business (and you do see them everywhere here), it is also to appease the evil spirits. The offerings that are above the ground are for the good spirits; everything is about balance here “like the yen and yang” they told us.
There are 3 big gods: Brahman the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer, and Shiva the Destroyer. Of course, they believe that everything has a spirit and that there are many demi-gods and friends of gods, but those are the overarching 3.
We have already relayed to you the information about the Besakih temple that we visited and prayed at, and this was part of our day today, so we will not go over that again. However, I will say that there are very famous Bone Healers here and people travel from all over Bali to be seen by them. They x-ray first and then massage a special oil on the offending appendage for a certain number of months, according to the problem. Our temple guide had a terribly broken leg from a biking accident and he came to them every day for a year. The leg is very crooked now but at least he still has it attached to the rest of him, which is a great mercy indeed.
There are 4 main classes of Hindus, and no matter what you achieve or do in this life there is absolutely no way to change class, as you are born into it. The highest is “Brahmana” for the priests. The second is “Kasatria” for the kings. The third is “Wishia” for the businessmen. And the fourth is “Sudra” for the farmers. 60% of Hindus here are Sudra.
The name Bali comes from the word “Wali”, and it means Ceremony; true to the name, everything is about ceremony here. The people are very devout and the full, half, and dark moon ceremonies underline this. On a full moon, for example, they meditate in the 7th tier of the Mother temple (the highest in this temple) for 5 hours! Wow!
Our last highlight of the day was being invited to our cabbie, Wayan’s, house. It was amazing! Families live multigenerationally here and in inclosed blocks. The head of the family (in this case Wayan’s father) has the most ornate abode and it is called the “Gedong”. The doors in this gedong were incredibly ornate, hand-carved wooden masterpieces. There was a house for Wayan and his family, one for his brother and family, a room for celebrations and weddings, a kitchen which is shared by everyone, and the family temple.
Every family temple features a family shrine that is the biggest and has a guardian shrine on either side. There are several other smaller family shrines within the temple as well and, of course, the ones dedicated to the common gods. Here is how they believe it works: When a family member dies, the soul of that person goes into one of the small family shrines, because they are not a god yet. When their body is cremated, their soul moves into the big family shrine as a god. Because it is very expensive to cremate somebody due to the ceremony and feeding and housing all of the family members who come into town for the ceremony, it is appropriate to wait up to a maximum of five years to cremate somebody. How interesting is that?!
The end of our day saw a group dinner with all of the teams. We had a great time as everyone is so wonderful and we are all getting along very well! We have fallen hopelessly in love with Bali and the people in it. However, we must say “ma’a as-salaama” for now because our next stop is: Abu Dhabi, via a stop at Kuala Lampur! Here we go!!