Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Everything is New

So I am safely in Bali! I am living in a family run volunteer house, sharing a room with 7 other girls. The living situation ios pretty good, despite having an outside bathroom. The shower water is freezing cold and you have to force yourself to stand under it. However, it's so hot and humid here that it's not so bad! We have a little kitchen to the side of our room which is outside again but means that we can boil water if we want tea or coffee. Usually if we want a drink we just head to the coffee shop out the front of the house. The people that run it are incredibly friendly. The local people all shout hello to us as we walk past.

This week is orientation, so we are just leaning about the culture etc. Yesterday we went for a walk into the nearest town (Ubud) and went round the markets. We decided to get some proper traveller trousers and so did a bit of haggling which was so much fun. We managed to get a shopkeeper to go from 1 pair for 150,000 to 4 pairs for 200,000. It feels like you're spending loads of money but in fact that's about £12. Not too bad for 4 pairs of trousers!

After we went to the monkey temple. The monkeys were CRAZY! They were grabbing one girls maxi skirt and hissing at each other. There were loads of cute, baby baby monkeys. Shame they grow up to be so ugly!! The temple was surrounded by greenery. It looked like it was in the middle of the rainforest. I have hundreds of monkey photos - found it pretty hard to restrict myself.

In the afternoon we had a culture class where we were told about local customs and what we should avoid doing. We managed to sit on a table which we thought was a bench and apparently that's a definite NO NO. Pretty embarrassing. That meeting didn't go on for too long so we went to explore the village pool. It was like a tropical paradise with palm trees and several pools for us to try! It was so nice because its very humid here so its hard to feel fresh. In the evening we went to a Balinese dance show. It was pretty crazy with people dressed up as monkeys with popping out eyes. After the show was done they made a fire using coconuts and petrol ansome guy dressed as a hobby horse (which is a symbol of trance out here) came out and danced around it before running straight into it and kicking the flaming coconut across the floor towards where we were sitting. He proceeded to do this several times until his feet were completely black and he had to lie down!!! By the time we got home I was so exhausted that I had to go straight to sleep after!

So then TODAY we were treated to banana pancakes and watermelon for breakfast before heading to our language class. On our way we walked into the wrong house for our lesson and everyone in the house just smiled, waved an said hello. Absolute not phased by the fact that 4 foreigners were traipsing through their house! When we finally realised we were lost the family's son took us to the right place. We were leaning Bahasa and it was so hard. He would put a load of phrases on the board, get us to memorise them them and then test us in front of the whole class!!! It was so embarrassing and my pronunciation was so bad. I reckon it was actually offensively bad. Tomorrow we have language class again and I think I should probably do some revision for it!

When we got back to the house there was a genuine cock fight going on behind the house!!! It was even worse than I thought it would be. Knives were attached to their feetto their feet and the men pulled out their feathers to get them all mad before setting them oneach other. I couldn't watch.

In the afternoon we went for a 3 hour walk across the rice paddies. Halfway through there was proper monsoon style rain and we had to find shelter under a tiny outcrop of roof! The paddies were beautiful and so tropical. It was like being in a real life butterfly garden! It was even more beautiful than it looks in the guidebooks.

The houses here are lovely. They all have family temples which take up most of their land. One of their Gods (Shiva I think) is believed to live in the south part of the house and it is the god of fire and so the kitchen is always in the south part of the house. Also, every morning families put offerings made of flowers and food outside their front doors which look lovely but it's almost impossible to walk down the street without treading on at least one (and yes, that's also disrespectful here!)

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