When Ryan surprised me with a horse ride on the beach for our four year wedding anniversary, I couldn’t believe it! Not only is our anniversary not for another month, but Ryan is not a big fan of horses. I wasn’t aware of the horse scene here in Bali, but it’s here and Ryan found it for me because that’s how much he loves me. It was such a wonderful surprise! I sang “I get to go ride horses” to the tune of Willy Wonka’s “I’ve got a golden ticket” all the way to the stable, because that’s what it felt like.
Apparently I was too excited to notice whatever was on my lip…
Although Ryan wouldn’t be joining me on the ride since the local horses are small and he exceeded the 90 kilo weight limit, I think he preferred it this way. In fact, he seemed almost as happy as I was when he dropped me off at Kuda P Stables and continued on his way. His plan was to go exploring and it was by complete coincidence that he ended up at the same beach just in time to capture all my wonderful memories. He told me that he came around the corner–after having parked the scooter at a different entrance–and the first thing he saw was me racing towards him, covered in sand and smiling from ear to ear. I couldn’t believe my luck!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Upon my arrival at the stable, I got all checked in. The staff were friendly and very thorough while fitting me for an appropriately sized helmet, a task that is always difficult given the unusually small size of my head. After that, things moved along very quickly. I was led to a beautiful grey mount named Crystal that just so happens to be the poster child of Kuda P Stables. I was also introduced to my groom. I’m embarrassed to admit I could never properly pronounce his name, so for the purposes of this blog, I’ll call him Antonio because it sounded similar.
Antonio was great and he went out of his way to ensure that I had a wonderful experience. He stopped to pluck flowers from trees that I had admired and he took pictures throughout the adventure. Although I’d arrived shortly before another couple, he still took me out separately which I appreciated. Ryan had registered me as an experienced rider and Antonio pretty much left me alone and let me do my own thing, especially once we arrived at the beach. He was a legitimate jockey from Java and he smoked me when we raced. His horse kicked up enough sand that Ryan laughed as soon as he saw me.
Look at my neck!
After walking in the surf, galloping from one end of the stretch to another, and of course getting in as many rematches against Antonio as poor Crystal could handle, we returned to the stables where I was presented with a much needed towel, a soda of my choice, and a plate of freshly fried bananas. It was an absolutely wonderful experience that fulfilled a dream I’ve had since I can remember. Thank you so much Ryan Vredenburg! I am a very lucky lady. I won that golden ticket the day I met you.
One of my very favorite things about being in Bali is that everywhere you go, you can see people flying kites. Whether it’s a single solitary farmer in one of his rice fields or a couple of kids running along the narrow street, everyone seems to have a kite. This was especially evident when we made our way to the nearby beach. Pantai Masceti is only a 30 minute scooter drive from our place in south Ubud and it appears to be very popular with locals. I’d never seen so many kites in one place!
These aren’t just your everyday average kites. They are huge and they come in some unusual shapes as well. We got to the beach around dusk and it was a great time to not only watch the kites flying high up in the air, but also to watch them being pulled back in again as their owners prepared to leave. This showed us just how big and long some of these kites actually are. My understanding is that they can be 1,000 feet long!
Watching everyone have such a good time flying their kites made me want to try it out for myself. I bought a kite at a local shop for IDR 50,000 (about $3.50 USD) and we eventually made our way back to the beach to give it a go. It took me a couple of tries but I finally got the hang of it. After several consecutive successful launchings and landings, I decided that flying a kite is a lot like fishing. It’s fun to cast off and reel in, and even more fun when you get a bite, but for the rest of the time it’s mostly just waiting. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the experience. It was a great way to enjoy the beach and the nice ocean breeze on a lazy afternoon. I may even do it again.
Bali has the largest Hindu population of all the provinces of Indonesia. This can be seen in Bali’s beautiful temples of which there are many. It is reflected in the interesting water purification rituals and cremation ceremonies performed by the locals and by the offerings they leave outside their homes. It is also apparent by the fascinating statues that guard almost every entrance.
I’m a big fan of these statues. The sheer variety is impressive enough, let alone the feeling that each statue has a story, and I’m sure it probably does. I’ve never seen so many interesting statues in one place. Some are more menacing than others–and indeed my understanding is that their intent is to scare away evil spirits, or at least keep them at bay–but my favorites are the ones that also appear to be somewhat playful. These remind me of one of my favorite childhood books called Where the Wild Things Are written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
According to some Hindu beliefs (at least as I understand it), things such as trees and statues are potential homes for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. These things are therefore treated very well. They are often “dressed” with a bit of black and white checkered fabric (called Saput Poleng) and they are paid respect and given offerings. The black and white Saput Poleng symbolizes the good and bad spirits working together within every entity.
(Picture borrowed from internet)
I have a very crude understanding of Hinduism, let alone Balinese Hinduism which I’m sure is unique in and of itself, but I find the idea of these statues to be wonderfully fascinating. If you want to invite a spirit to come and look over your home and your loved ones, give it somewhere to live (such as a statue) and make sure it is well cared for. Keep it dressed and fed, show it respect, and it will give you good juju. It seems to me that regardless of your beliefs, a little good juju never hurt anyone.