TAMPAK SIRING: BATHING IN THE SACRED SPRINGS

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YOU EVER HAVE A DAY BEGIN WITH DISASTER, roller coaster up and down, then end with a blessing? The day I rode my motorbike to Tampak Siring was rather like that.

The night before, I set my phone’s alarm for something like 0430 hours—I use the Bell Tower chime because it’s loud but not obnoxious or irritating. I’m an early riser, so 0430 isn’t rare for me. Still, no one is totally awake that early in the morning, so I muddle into the bathroom in darkness—remember, this is the bathroom larger than most bedrooms (or tiny homes), with an orchid garden and oodles of plants in it, and an open-air ceiling along the far wall. I turn on the shower.

Disaster number one: I can’t find my bar of soap.

When traveling, the last thing you want to write home about is losing something out of your bag or having it stolen, especially something you cannot replace easily. But we’re only talking soap here, and I haven’t been traveling; I’ve been holing up in this villa, stationary for almost two months. I use only bar soap in the shower because I use bottled liquid soap for hands, so even as groggy as I am, I know I haven’t moved the bar of soap to the sink. But where is it? Did the maid move it, or take it? No, she wouldn’t do either. I conjure a burglar scaling the 12-foot-high bathroom wall of rock and robbing me only of my bath soap. No. So then…what?

I try to force myself awake, and begin to scan the room and garden. I spot the bar of soap. It’s lying in the garden dirt between the roofless wall and one of the palm trees. Some critter has dragged it from the shower to the far side of the room. Probably a rat, which some people here call a “mouse”—it does sound a little less loathsome to have mice. “Rat” seems more onerous, more defiling somehow.

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The “mouse” seems to have become enamored with my soap and has been dining on it as though it were a delicacy, a wheel of Jarlsberg cheese or French pastry, and has gnawed it all the way around its outside edges. Apparently, she intended to haul it up the wall to share with her family, but couldn’t quite manage that. I don’t get it. It’s soap, not cheese. It’s soap, not bread. It’s soap. A luwak knows precisely when coffee beans are ripe, they know the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans. Are the mice in Bali a little lame? When the gods were passing out brains and instinct to the animals of Bali, did the luwaks get more than their share, and the mice got none? Or do mice just possess a weird sense of reality. Or a low threshold of taste? And a lousy sense of propriety? I don’t have another bar of soap in my travel bag, but fine, I use my liquid hand soap from the sink even though I dislike bathing with liquid soap. It seems inefficient, ineffectual—just doesn’t feel right. See how bad some days in paradise might begin: mice banqueting on your soap, and you forced to use liquid soap in your shower. Could things get worse?

Apparently, yes.

Disaster number two: I finish with the shower and walk back into the bedroom. And there it is. Lying on the floor beside the bed— one huge Gecko dropping, white tip at one end. Damn those cloacas. Sometimes it’s better not knowing some things. It seems bad enough knowing there’s dung on your floor, but knowing there’s dung and pee mixed together that came out of the same opening of the animal—it seems a bit more disgusting, especially when it’s this large a gecko, “The Hulk” of geckos.

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I know, I know, I made a New Year’s Resolution not to mention poop again, and I meant it 100 percent (at the time). So let me say this: usually, I do not make New Year’s resolutions, and when I do, I usually break them by January 4th. I’m much like many others in the world. And this:  I might very easily change my mind about something. Get used to it. And besides, this is my blog…I can write what I want. And get this, I know a blogger who’s famous for his knowledge of poop in India. Google “poop in India.” His blog post will be the first one that pops up. Perhaps I’ll become famous for my knowledge of cloacas, or Bali dung. Or the diet of rats. It could happen.

Irrelevant fact du jour #1: Komodo dragons are the reining kings of rough sex. The male mounts the female from behind. She most likely will resist, and when a Komodo dragon “resists,” large, sharp teeth and claws are involved, so it’s dangerous for the male. He must overpower her and actually pin her down, and hold her down. Then he flicks his long forked tongue, or his chin, over a couple of her sensitive areas, and hopefully she calms down and gets into it. But the male continues to hold her down with his claws on either side of her body, just in case she tries anything stupid. This, I’m guessing, is more about preservation of the species than mere domination: if a female can overpower her lover, he’s a wuss, and not fit to sire shit on an island wicked as Komodo. Over millenia, apparently, male dragons have developed hooks on their penis. Since the dragons are prone to fairly long intercourse times along with a bit of rough play, the hooks ensure his junk stays inside the female (in case she bolts or lashes out with her tail). All that is fine information, but this is the kicker here: when mating, the male inserts his johnson with hooks into the female dragon’s—wait for it—her (ever multi-tasking) cloaca!

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It’s still dark, the stars are bright against a black sky, no moon. But soon, the sky begins to lighten. This is not monsoon season, and Bali has been fairly dry throughout June and July; this is Bali’s dry season. But this morning, rain begins to fall. The rain sings a slow madrigal in the dark air. Then eases into an aria, and builds to a crescendo as it plays the palm leaves and rice paddy. It finally tapers into a climax, a drizzle, A cappello. Then trills to silence.

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This is the kind of rain we like to see in Bali. Rain a while as we drink our morning kopi luwak sans sugar, cleanse the earth and air, enliven everything, make things green and lush. Then, stop. And allow the red bamboo to grow another inch and the sun to shine for the rest of the day.

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We don’t mind a cloud or two moving away in the sky, to enhance a photograph of a mango tree and jungle early in the morning. But we do not desire to ride a motorbike in the rain.

My maid arrives —and I’m willing to bet you one million rupiahs that if you have read my last few posts, you can guess her name(!). I usually like to eat a little later in the morning, but today I ask her to make breakfast early because I will be hopping on the bike soon and heading off to see some of the island.

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Ibu” is a term of respect for a woman in Bali, older women or married women, not young girls. My maid, Ibu Made (you guessed it, right? you owe me a million rupiahs) asks me what I want for breakfast. I ask what Balinese dishes she makes. She says, “Banana pancakes.” I’m not sure that qualifies, but I say I’ll try it. She makes me a banana pancake and another pancake made with green stuff in the batter and coconut and something else sweet rolled inside. She told me what was in there making things green (some herb or leaf of something), but I didn’t quite understand what she was telling me and was too preoccupied with packing for my trip to get details. Luckily, both pancakes were simply wonderful. Ibu Made makes the palm syrup herself from palm flowers, as tasty as maple syrup but without all that mapley flavor, and expense. I eat quickly, then finish packing my Mountain Smith fanny pack with a little snack food and my rain poncho—just in case.

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The first thing I notice today is women construction workers. For some reason in Bali, it’s the women who do the heavy lifting at construction sites. They haul rocks and dirt on their heads for the foundation of a house; they haul bricks to build them. They haul wood beams. They haul bags of concrete. They haul steel rods of rebar. This woman is hauling bricks on her motorbike, from where the truck dumps them to another site.

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At that site, a crew of other women transfer the bricks from there to as far as their wheel barrows will go.

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Then, another team of women take them down the more narrow paths to the building site.

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I ride through town toward the statue of Arjuna—there’s little traffic this early in the day—and stop at the Ganesha Bookstore. I’m actually tempted to look inside. They sell used books, and a few times a week, I usually wander in to see what they have. And, it’s located next door to the Bali Buddha Bakery, which sells organic bagels, bread, and macadamia nut cookies (nothing a Bali rat might like). This morning, I decide to buy the bagel and pass on the book, but maybe I’ll stop in later on my return.

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I ride out of town toward the tiny village of Laplapan. And immediately come across some marvelous scenery in the Petanu River valley.

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This is a close up of one of those palms that the locals call “Banana Fans” because the stems at the bottom grow close, then fan out on top into separate leaves that look similar to leaves on banana plants.

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A few kilometers on, I run across a view of Gunung Agung serrating the horizon just before veiling itself behind a curtain of mist and cloud. You know how when some kid is fidgeting, and his mother says: hey, you got ants in your pants? That’s how I feel now as I stop the bike, hit the kickstand, and fumble in my bag for my camera because in one quick moment Agung could vanish. I take a few quick shots, knowing nothing that magnificent gets captured fully in a photograph. Two dimensions never do them justice. Some things, you just have to see with a naked eye—the Grand Canyon, Iguazu Falls, Machu Picchu. Bridgette Bardot. Okay, fine, for you ladies: Tom Selleck.

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I notice wild cloves growing nearby. I pick a couple. I put one in my mouth. It’s almost sweet. Pungent and sharp the way dried cloves usually are, but also sweet, and the texture is soft and smooth. I decide I like fresh cloves better than dried cloves. I keep it in my mouth for half an hour or so, savoring its softness and sharpness. Clove, chocolate, ginger—I love all of these. What would they taste like all together? With maybe a dash of jalapeño. In a drink? Or dessert? Or a smoothie with mango?

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Cloves growing in situ

Nearby, a cacao tree is bearing a load of fresh fruit. I’m a chocolate freak, but damn, that is one ugly plant chocolate comes from. Coyote ugly. Gecko cloaca ugly. The fruit pods look like wrinkled sacks of green-goat testicles hanging on the side of a tree. I think I may have just ruined my desire, and cured my addiction, to eating chocolate in the future. Again—some things are better left unknown.

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Cacao

Irrelevant fact du jour #2: Cacao leaves can pirouette up to 90 degrees, from horizontal to vertical, to follow the sun and to shade new leaves.

Nobody who knows me calls me the sharpest tool in the shed, but I can usually get out of my own way, and get through a day without much problem or effort (but yeah, a miracle or two might be necessary). I stand in a field photographing Agung, then the rice paddy nearby. I snap a couple of shots of some plants. I kneel to capture a different angle, a close-up. Then, as I kneel there looking at the photos on my camera’s rear display, I feel something on my foot. I look down. I’m too shocked to snap a photo of what I see. But as I write this now, I do wish I would have had a cooler presence of mind to take a photo to show you how some days I may need help getting out of my own way. I cannot see my foot. It’s covered in a throbbing blanket of pulsing black ick—big black ants. And a few are crawling up my bare thigh from my knee on the ground. The ants are surprisingly large and surprisingly light on their feet–I barely feel the hoard on my foot and do not feel them on my thigh. The ants have contracted what must be something like gold-rush fever in their reality. Fresh meat and plenty of it. I flip my sandal off my foot. I try to brush the ants away, but there are a bazillion of them. And now, they are getting pissed. And biting, bigtime.

I was kneeling right in the nest or home or whatever it is they live in down there in the weeds. Or maybe they’re just passing through, en masse. A couple ants have gotten into my shorts. Holy mother of green-goat testicles! Luckily, this is a back-back road with no traffic, no onlookers. I slap and swipe and toss and brush at them. I must look just like that little boy whose mother asks if he has ants in his pants. I literally do have ants in my pants.  I finally get all of them off my feet and legs, and out of my shorts (don’t ask). My hands sting a bit because when you brush a band of giant ants off your foot with your hand, you end up with giant ants on your hand. Maybe it’s one of those immutable laws of physics?

Some people argue that ants are the sharpest tool in the shed. I recently read somewhere that long after humans have become extinct on the planet, ants will probably be running the show, and sitting at the top of the food chain. I’m thinking cockroaches will also still be here, maybe a rung just below ants. Bali rats, I surmise, will disappear about the time humans stop manufacturing soap.

“Know your enemy,” as they say in movies and ancient books on war strategy—I move back in for a closer look at these ants. They are large. They look mean. They move like they know what they are doing. Nothing seems willy-nilly with them. They seem very healthy, and muscular. The Schwarzenegger of ants. Another few find my feet, again. I back away, brush them off my sandal again. Persistent buggers. I don’t know what they’re up to, but they look like they have a job to do, and they are doing it. They maneuver like they are bad news going somewhere to happen.

I ride into a small village and stop to look around the morning market. I believe I’m in touch with my feminine side as much as most men could be, but this local woman—whose name I do not know, but we’ll call her Made—has afforded me one good reason to be thankful I’m not a woman.

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I mean, look at the size of her. She is a tiny person like many Balinese. But now, take a look at the size of her baby’s head compared to the width of her shoulders. Nuff said. Thank you, god, for making me male in this life.

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I pass a temple in a village that is celebrating one of the myriad of festivals they hold each month.

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The Honda Scoopy motorbike is the Bentley of motorbikes in Bali. These ladies probably wear the look on their faces because they are not riding a Honda Scoopy, which has five more horsepower than their regular Honda, significant when climbing volcanos or riding away from one spewing molten lava.

Disaster number three: I ride a ways and happen upon one of my favorite rice fields to photograph in Bali. There are gaps of time in the rice-growing process between rice growing and replanting again. At those times, the fields lie fallow and muddy and yucky. Or maybe another less-alluring crop is growing in the paddy, like water melons or potatoes, which do not have the same lovely panache as rice. On this trip to Bali, the rice paddies near my villa are splendidly full of rice, and beautiful. But everywhere else, everywhere else, everywhere, that I travel on the island, the rice fields are not growing rice, they are dormant and not photographically appealing.

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This is the scene in rice fields everywhere this trip.

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Today, I take the photo above—one of my favorite fields lying dormant. The photo below is what this same rice field looked like the last time I rode past this villa, seven months earlier in January of this year.

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But the universe seems to offer miracles that make up for the lack of beauty in a rice field by replacing it with other sights, like these long-tailed macaques sitting on a fence.

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Or perhaps the beauty of an antique 1960’s Toyota Land Cruiser restored to like-new mint condition, painted red and sporting special rims. You’d hate to drive this pristine machine to places where those mud tires could go.

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I ride through Laplapan, north towards Tampak Siring. I’m riding on back roads—narrow, no signs, no traffic. And of course, no rice paddies to photograph. Somehow, my mind gets confused as to where I am, and what direction I should be going. When I come to a T in the road, I turn right (and head away from Tampak Siring). Still, in my mind, I don’t see how that is possible. I’m pretty good with finding my way. But every once in a while, like once in ten years, I get confused looking straight at a map; it just doesn’t make sense; I can’t see how I got where I got. But this is rare, maybe it’s just the mind going on vacation. It may have been something more culpable on my travels during the 60’s and 70’s. Infuriating, whatever the cause.

But today, I’m not looking at a map. I’m just confused as to where I “should” be, and a little lost but close to where I should be. And here’s the strange thing: a few days ago knowing I’d be traveling Bali’s backroads, I spent a small fortune for a Periplus road atlas of Bali, a book with page after page of great detail, even small roads. I have the road atlas with me in my fanny pack. I’m just refusing to pull it out. What is up with that? If I were in Amsterdam, I could understand it: my ego would not allow me to pull out a map and look like a tourist there. But here, anyone not a local is a tourist.

At any rate, I have to turn around and back track. Then I find myself floundering in the other direction, and end up at the intersection of this road.

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It’s an intriguing road, a little scary, and one that at any other time, I would simply drive down just to see where it goes. But today, I’m on a mission to see the sacred Tirta Empul spring and pools in the village of Tampak Siring, and time is not standing still.

I’m sitting on my motorbike, apparently looking lost, at the mouth of this scary road as I ponder north or south. A local man happens by and asks if I’m looking for Tirta Empul. He points me in the right direction, I’m only a couple of left turns and a bridge away. I end up in the most beautiful parking lot I’ve ever seen for a tourist site, or any kind of site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a parking lot this marvelous; it’s the Elysian Fields of parking lots, or better, the Mona Lisa of parking lots. There are plenty of places to park, no lines drawn on the road, so you can park anywhere, even on the grass, and the whole parking lot is one huge garden, with large shade trees, a profusion of flowers, and a clean river running through it. People are picnicking in the parking lot. Children are playing games in the parking lot. Lovers are snuggling near ancient trees. Couples and families walk on the manicured grass, pick flowers. A loud group of local young men laugh and smoke clove-scented cigarettes (good and bad in everything, at least the smoke smells good).

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Yeah, you’ll find the compulsory tourist shops, but fairly low-key, selling junk food and breadfruit. And look what’s behind the shops—acre after acre of manicured garden.

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You can also buy fresh fruit, and sarongs, from roving hawkers.

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PURA TIRTA EMPUL: The Sacred Temple and Pools

Tirta Empul translates to “Holy Spring.” The Tirta Empul Temple and pools may begin to offer you a glimpse into Bali’s spiritual heart. The temple entrance is the traditional Balinese split gate (like the huge one that for decades lived so dearly in my memory until I recently discovered it was the entrance to a frinkin country club).

The Tirta Empul spring is the “Ganges River” of Bali, where Hindus here have immersed themselves in the holy waters for purification—and to maintain happiness for themselves and the whole world—for over a thousand years. The water is believed to possess healing properties: able to heal various ailments and diseases and to renew or refresh your soul from the adverse effects of daily life. Legend suggests the spring was created when Indra, the very powerful Hindu god of war, struck the ground and water sprung forth. Legend also maintains that the water brought back to life some of Indra’s soldiers who had died from poisoning.

As you walk toward the temple from the parking lot a la Da Vinci, the first thing you notice is the impressive ancient and sacred banyan tree dressed in ceremonial cloth standing in front of the temple’s split gates.

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You are required to wear appropriate attire—sarong and sash—to enter the temple grounds, and these guys are there to assist you, and to outfit you in the proper apparel, which they loan you, and for which you may offer a donation if you desire.

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The sacred spring lies on the other side of this carved rock wall. Kids will be kids, as they like to say, and what kid wouldn’t innately desire to just begin climbing this wall, but a rule is a rule, and sacred is sacred—they made him quit climbing immediately.

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In local Hindu tradition, these women are being blessed with holy water from the holy spring.

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It’s not a style I’d desire for my home, but you have to admire the craftsmanship that went into the carving of these wooden and stone structures. Besides being the happiest people on the planet maybe, the Balinese are magnificent artisans—wood, stone, paint, precious metals. Mountain sides. Parking lots.

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Photographers who cannot take their own models along must rely on the kindness of strangers.

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Entrance to the gardens (and parking lot) outside the temple.
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One of the largest koi ponds in the world?
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Lily pads
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Lotus flower in bloom, water lily below
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The sacred pools contain 12 fountains.

Worshippers enter the pool at the steps at one end and begin the process at the far fountain. They pray and give offerings at the first fountain, then move down, praying and offering at each of the twelve fountains in the pool.

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A local woman named Ketut (born 4th in her family) informs me that when praying, the Balinese proceed through a five-step procedure: they first thank the emptiness, then thank the sun, thank the mysterious creation, then offer blessings upon the whole world, and finally thank the emptiness again. They may wear flowers, or offer flowers as they proceed from one fountain to the next. They receive grains of rice, either in their mouths or on their foreheads. These represent the “seeds of God.” When they are chewed, or fall off, it reminds devotees of the “mysteries of creation.”

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The water is fresh out of the ground, fed by the sacred spring, and is crystal clear, cool, and refreshing. The rocks on the bottom are worn smooth, and feel almost soft. Large koi swim in the pools and do not fear the people wandering near them.

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Guidebooks and TripAdvisor mention that you might experience humongous crowds and that it may take like 90 minutes to get to the fountains while you wade in the water and snake your way forward in long lines of worshippers. Some travel articles also mention that this is a place few foreigners visit, and that most of the people you find here are locals. Both of these pieces of information were inaccurate on the day I arrived. There were no throngs of local devotees, and most of the (very few) people in the Temple that day were foreigners. This is the kind of small miracle I have come to depend upon every day. I am not a massive-throng-of-people kind of guy. I’m not even that comfortable in a busy grocery store. Give me a scary road, alone, any day.

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I wonder just what this woman’s tattoo might say. I decide I will wait for her to finish, and then ask her. But she is taking her time with her devotion, so I wander on, and when I return a little later, I find her nowhere. Apparently, I still need to learn a lesson in patience. Or time management. Or learn to read Sanskrit.

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The Balinese are a difficult people not to like. I find I like them even more when I discover that they offer blessings for happiness and balance in the “whole world,” not merely their own life.

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Today, some visitors merely take photographs of the temple and devotees in the pools. Others feed the koi. Many people spend most of their day picnicking in the parking lot near the lucid river fed by the holy spring in the Temple. The aroma of incense infuses the air with sweetness. Beauty and peaceful energy abound. You can almost taste the impartial sanctity.

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After a day at the sacred pools, what else is there to do for the weary traveler but get a massage at the local spa. I opt for the four-handed “Pure Bliss Massage”: that is, two people massaging with identical strokes simultaneously on either side of your body. It does cost twice the usual seven-dollar fee. So, like, $14. I told you the day ended well.

You can find other entries into the DP Photo Challenge here:   Happy Place

You can find other entries in Lucile’s Photo Rehab here:   Photo Rehab

You can find other entries in WP Daily Prompt here:     Connect the Dots

188 comments

  1. So let me get this straight: disaster #3 was not the big black ants crawling all over you and biting? But instead it was the un-photogenic-ness of the rice fields? Dude, you have a very interesting take on life – one of the reasons I so thoroughly enjoy your posts! Beautiful photos that I’m sure don’t do justice to the landscape (but we still keep trying, right?) Those sacred pool look fantastic – the color of the water, the fountains, the ritual…lovely prayers – worth repeating daily even if I’m so far from those pools…

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  2. Once again, we are transported to Bali. The pictures are incredible. I love the food there — I am sure I could continue my vegan regimen easily and the spicier the better for my palate. You have a book all ready to go — hie thee to a publisher, stat, BF.

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  3. I have never seen a cacao tree before and you seriously understated exactly how ugly that pod is. Giant green goat testicles almost makes it !! So to show my complete ignorance … I assume this giant pod is full of cacao beans? I’m picturing something similar to a pomegranate?

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for NOT taking a photo of the ant invasion. Just reading about it had me squirming uncomfortably. I would have totally lost my shit … and then some. I would have categorized this incident as Disaster #3,4, and 5!! Actually better make it #6 too … for the ants in your shorts!

    Always love your photos that complement your story. Pura Tirta Empul looks amazing to visit – so much detail!

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    • Yeah, exactly…pomegranate…only bigger. More like a stack of beans in there. Ants don’t bother me like spiders do for some reason, but nobody likes ants in their pants…or covering their freaking foot! Tirta Empul was peaceful and very cool.

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    • Rain…well, another blogger I know is doing the poetry 101,and I don’t write poetry, but thought I’d go a little poetic with the description…and then just got carried away, so I’m glad you like it! I think it’s pretty much gray damp stuff everywhere.

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  4. Thank you Badfish, it was a pleasure escaping to your world. I have the luxury of knowing it intimately many years ago and your prose and photographs brought it all back. Glad to hear tourism hasn’t changed the fact that there are rules to be upheld in sacred places. The photo of the mom and her enormous baby was actually lovely but you are right, that head!!

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    • Martha, thanks for hanging out with me. And glad you could reminisce about old times in Bali. And good to know some things never change…totally. And right…that freakin head!!! Ouch is all I have to say about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well! That was interesting. I’m still trying to figure out how poop, testicles and Komodo dragon sex had anything to do with the rest of your day.
    Ah yes, you did say it was irrelevant. Just a form of self expression. Got it!
    You can so eloquently tell an interesting tale.

    As for the ants… Marabunta ants don’t eat large vertebrates, if that’s what they were. Charlton Heston got away from them in the “The Naked Jungle” by creating a wall of fire, but not before others (both man and beast) were consumed and their skeletal remains were left in their wake. Even though they were called Marabunta in the movie, they were more likely army ants which will eat anything in their way digesting as they go.
    I’m guessing your encounter was not with army ants, because I hear tell you’d not have been so successful in getting away from them. So, it was a good day! However had it been me, I’d be having nightmares for quite some time after such an encounter.

    Years ago, my not quite sane mother called me in the middle of the night to say a horde of giant ants had come through a window and up her bed. I was 60 miles away so suggested she call someone closer, which she already had. I think she hoped I would run to her side.
    So the next day I get up and take my pokey time going up to see her. (Truly I thought she’d exaggerated, after all we live in California and not the tropics.) You can imagine my shock when I see the trail of ant corpses leading across her yard, up her porch and through the window and in the house to her bed!!! They were huge. Giant. The biggest black ants I’d ever seen.

    I asked her why she didn’t clean them up. She says and rightly so, “I knew you didn’t believe me!” I’m guessing the exterminators in the area rushed to her home knowing what she was talking about. I was so grateful. She had just moved to acreage in Temecula just north of San Diego! You would have loved this place. Remote and scenic.

    I felt sooo bad and I should have. I guess that’s part of the reason I took such good care of her in the end. It was my penance. Thanks for sharing and bringing back that memory.

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    • Well, they were definitely an army of ants, and they looked well equipped to handle an enemy they came upon. Me, in this case.
      If it wasn’t you and your mom…that would be a funny story. But how horrible for her!!! And then, for you…guilt is not fun.

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  6. Another lovely day with you in Bali and as bad luck goes, this was not too bad. Well, except for the ants. What a scenic ride and destination – fascinating stuff. (I think I would have used the gnawed soap.)

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  7. Nothing like being at the end of a touristy trip to NYC and come back to hotel exhausted, feet throbbing (and fitbit overheating) and kicking back to read a story about fine rodant cuisine, violent reptile sex and rabid testicularly inclined ants.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Holy mother of green goat testicles! Did I get that right? Amazing photos and I snorted with laughter at the third disaster. I can actually appreciate that. As far as that Komodo dragon love affair…will that’s just scary.

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    • You got it right! Snorting is allowed…but do it without that coffee in your nose like last time. And yeah, Komodo dragons are scary whether making love or deciding whether or not to eat you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve never been to Bali (and it is so close) but this rambling story of the delights and disasters in your day are almost making me book a flight. But If I do I will bring an extra bar of soap.

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  10. You are very kind to share with us a day like this. We get to be you for a day. It is as amusing as it is strenuous, paradisical as well as hellistic. You even give us ants in the pants. Thank you. And the soap-eating reminds me of how my dog eats paper napkins as a treat: possibly they need something basic-based to balance their diets.

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    • Ha! Well, I’m glad you like my sharing, and thanks for hanging out here and reading. And taking the ride of up and down in paradise. Your dog eats paper napkins? He probably smells the tree in them.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I did a little snorting with laughter myself. Good story, that ended well. Love travelling along on your rambles, both inner and outer. I’m a bit behind with comments I think. We’re busy travelling 🙂
    Alison

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    • I’m glad my endeavors make people snort! I’m way behind in comments too. I just can’t keep up, can’t spend enough time. Don’t even have enough time to post. And I’m not even traveling. I think, though, I had more time when I was traveling (rather, not working).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I used to think the best way to get people (mainly kids) to really learn and remember something was to teach them to sing it. But I have to say your blogs ARE teaching blogs and they make me learn with laughter. That picture of the lotus flower is so gorgeous! I love the respect you have for people, for nature, and (dare I say it) mechanical equipment! 😀 It touches me.

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    • Seems like I always end up doing whatever it was that I once resisted. Like teaching. I never wanted to be a teacher. Then, now here I am teaching at a university. And now, jeesh, it’s oozing into my blog. Maybe next, I should resist being rich. The lotus flower…yeah, one of my favs. I think it was sheer luck.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Badfish, its become somewhat of a cliche to say “your posts keep getting better and better” so I won’t say that – there’ll all simply damned good. great even really. there’s too much to comment on here – the funny stuff, the great pics, so for now …. pauses for effect, repeats for emphasis….. for now i’m just gonna comment on the three last sentences of this post. After reading your post, I don’t want to connect the dots. After reading your post, I am not interested in rehabilitating anything, photographs or otherwise. After reading your post, I am simply not interested in looking at and commenting upon ( as I usually do) other people’s entries in the wp photo challenge of the week.

    In fact, I’m not even going to make my own post for this week’s challenge. Nup. I’ve found my happy place right here. You see, dear Baddie, your trip to the sacred springs reminded me when I was there a couple of years back, and I’d almost forgotten.

    I was fortunate enough to visit the springs in the company of locals. We were shown how to prepare and went through the process of preparing for entering the water, and what to do once in. Moving from water to water spout, releasing negativity… etc. Very beautiful. After that, we sat cross-legged on the cement in another part of the temple complex and participated in a Hindu ceremony. As the locals gesticalated, we gesticulated. As the locals made flower offerings, I offered sweet poseys of gorgeous flowers.

    After that, we had a picnic, but not in the carpark. Someone laid huge banana fronds on the cement in another part of the complex and we sat on those. On the smaller banana fronds that we used for plates, someone else dished out an assortment of stunningly coloured and exceptionally flavoured vegetarian food. We ate.

    Souls and bodies cleansed and refreshed, we thanked the gods and left the temple.

    Thank you for reminding me of that amazing place, that amazing time.

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    • I’m wondering if you ever wondered if a Badfish could blush. This is like a comment that can’t be commented back on. You went to Bali? Did I know that? And forgot? You should write a post on your trip there. Reading your account gave me chills. Literally. You had a much more spiritual experience than I did. I was on the outside looking in. You were inside, looking further in. It’s a lovely story. I feel like I need to return.

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      • Oh, Baddie – I’ve made you blush then get the chills in the space of seconds? Now there, have a nice cup of tea…. Since I had forgotten about that magic time myself, how could you be expected to remember? You’ll be back .. it’s in your soul.
        Speaking of returns, I promised I’d he back here ( perhaps you took it as a threat?) Anyhow, I could talk about people with mice phobias who undergo miraculous cures in bali and actually, momentarily, have the bizarre, sick thought that mice could be cute, then get, thankfully, cured and revert to normal rodent phobia upon leaving the country, but that would take too much space and time. I could comment on how lucky you were to use the in-house models, the Balinese are so obliging like that, actually quite happy to help others out often. I could comment on numerous other things – but i wont. Instead, I’m just gonna make a call out to the God of Literature.

        God of Literature, can you please arrange for someone, somewhere, somehow, to give this man funds, a grant, in short, pennies from heaven, so he can ditch his day job and just write.

        we all here wanna read his book. Thank you, God of Literature, for hearing my prayers.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Awww, Bali as Happy Place ❤

    Love the story, I read it from beginning to end 😉 Oh well, I guess Balinese gecko has huge ass compare those in Java Island 😀

    Great idea for having strangers as your model, so, I should not expect any selfie in Bali in future posts? So far I remember I have seen only your selfie leg 😀
    And I really like the last image – it's truly brilliant, did you put the flower yourself there? 😉

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  15. I laughed so loud, my partner had to see what it was all about. Wonderful post, so full of the life of Bali, so entertaining and so visually exciting! I can imagine myself getting into ant trouble (or similar disasters) when taking photographs. You can enter the world as seen through a lens and forget to keep your awareness and wits about you. What a fantastic way to end the day!

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    • HA!! Well I’m glad you got a laugh out of it! Sometimes I write something and don’t realize what I wrote until I reread it later, and find myself laughing at it. I always wonder if others find it humorous, or it was just me. And yeah…ant trouble is everywhere.

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  16. Don’t worry, I still have the previous post’s comments in my
    notepad… and I will post them when I finish reading through that
    trilogy you’re created previous to this outstanding tale.

    In the meantime, having been totally blessed by the time spent in
    Tirta Empul, and having come out of a most blissful sense of calm, I
    am reminded that, regardless of anything, of how you woke up, what
    you encountered in the wee hours of the day, you had been gifted with
    the splendid hours spent emersed in the “Holy Spring” – imagines you
    in a sarong. All journeys include moments of doubt, where, then, you
    are reminded, those moments might have been better spent simply being
    in the moment, and letting the road take you where it ever it might.

    I’ve gotten word from the rat and mouse union that the possibility
    exists the rat was sent to wash his mouth out with the soap, that
    it’s expletives about the ‘two leggeds’ hiding such things so far and
    away to make it more difficult for a tiny four legged creature
    searching for something more substantial, shall have it’s own trials
    and tribulations.

    The Gecko union, on the other hand, simply feels that we must have a
    little kaka in our lives to appreciate the glory at the end of the day.

    And the Coyote Union takes umbridge with being considered ugly. Just
    in case you wanted to know.

    I’m sorry to say that the Ant Union’s words were just not fit for printing, but, they suggest that you should be happy they were not fire ants.

    The Komodo Dragon Union, simply says, be happy you’re not either the
    she or the he, but thanks for sharing the intimacies, as they are sure everyone absolutely was waiting with baited breath to know the truth of the rumors behind the mating practices. Now everyone will know they are impressive creatures; no snips and snails, and puppy dog tails there.

    There is one place where I was reading and was sure I did not need to go any further, for I’d found Nirvana within your words, and surely it must have been the real prize, realized. Had I not read further, I’d have still been sated:

    “It’s still dark, the stars are bright against a black sky, no moon. But soon, the sky begins to lighten. This is not monsoon season, and Bali has been fairly dry throughout June and July; this is Bali’s dry season. But this morning, rain begins to fall. The rain sings a slow
    madrigal in the dark air. Then eases into an aria, and builds to a crescendo as it plays the palm leaves and rice paddy. It finally tapers into a climax, a drizzle, A cappello. Then trills to silence.”

    Did you write this just for music lovers? For those of us who hear music in everything?

    And here:

    “This is the kind of rain we like to see in Bali. Rain a while as we drink our morning kopi luwak sans sugar, cleanse the earth and air, enliven everything, make things green and lush. Then, stop. And allow the red bamboo to grow another inch and the sun to shine for the rest of the day.”

    Is there anywhere else that one might truly call Paradise? I can’t imagine. And one of the reasons I can’t imagine, is that the land itself is only part of what makes it thus. “The Balinese are a difficult people not to like. I find I like them even more when I
    discover that they offer blessings for happiness and balance in the “whole world,” not merely their own life.”

    When a place and its people mirror each other, it is hard to believe this kind of symbiosis cannot be realized, and be lessons to learn from such an incredible place and people as this. I feel as if I can cross Bali off my bucket list because your words have made the whole experience so real that I might have trouble believing I was not actually there, walking within your own footsteps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy mother of green goats, Fim! I love the books you write here in comments, but first Debbie makes me blush, and now you. Are you ganging up on me on purpose? I have one question: why didn’t you become a book publisher or agent instead of ALL those other things you became!!! And I truly love that you love my words so much you write them back for me to read again—more chills down my back from your love!! I feel blessed to have found you and all these others who comment from their heart! It makes me want to write another piece right now instead of grading all these papers that need grading by Sunday (our first day of the work week here). I guess I really have to respect anyone who would go to the trouble to contact all those unions to discover the scoop on those creatures!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fimn, you quoted exactly the same parts of the writing that I loved and would have quoted if I wasnt too busy commenting on other parts. which reminds me, there’s a few more. 🙂 Baddie, your taste in men is appalling. whatever gave you the notion that tom selleck was the male equivalent of bridgette bardot? poor bridgette, to be lumped into such a distasteful category! and just wondering, Badfish, you had the ant thing happen whilst you were trying to photograph Gunung Anung, Bali’s most spiritual mountain, Mother Mountain, if memory serves me correctly. Maybe the ants were trying to tell you something. did you have any vivid dreams that night?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maybe I slept that night with my feet pointing toward the mountain instead of away!?? Bad juju. I think I dreamed that all my commenters started a publishing company but decided not to publish Badfish Goes To Bali because of his taste in men. But even I think Tom Selleck is like…The Dude of Men, a man’s man, the Marlboro man for crying out loud. Who would you want: a Clooney, a Pitt, a Depp, a Redford, or freakin Bieber, maybe? Brando, Valentino, Sinatra.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Depp, then Clooney – though Pitt with Jolie and Redford all have a huge committment to humanitarian work – you can keep the rest. Seriously though, I’m sure you know that Gunung Agung is the most sacred thing in Bali – and you were trying to photograph the holy mountain when the ants bit you. I’ve tried to find what it means to have ant dreaming or ant medicine, but sadly, find nothing of interest. apart from the fact that back in May a balinese apparently died from ant bites http://bali.coconuts.co/2015/05/21/bali-man-found-dead-kos-covered-ant-bites so consider yourself lucky. and some bizarre ant rites in the amazon ( google, bullet ants).
            oh, and the Hindu story of the God Indra and the march of ants who were all Brahmas in their last existence — maybe it was the Brahma’s biting you, Baddie.
            You might just have to find out what Gunung Agung was telling you on your next visit, badfish.

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          • For the first time it took me a few days to comment on your post. I kept it open and read it a few more times. Making small virtual trips to Bali with you.
            I was annoyed though, for not having yet written how this post touched me, and even more so because I couldn’t grasp what was blocking me.
            Today I read all comments from your readers, and those of Fim and Debbie gave me the answer.
            Better than me, they could perfectly express the sublime double effect your narrative makes on us.
            Your stunning images and enticing stories intertwine in total harmony, singing to my ears like morning birds, whilst dancing with my synapses, making me feel happy.
            Happy to have met a great writer, who can make us wonder, think, feel, dream, and even laugh at rats, ants and geckos’ intelligent jokes.
            Apart from your taste in men, your post was jaw dropping. But we won’t let this hurt your reputation with the Gods of Literature. 😉
            Thanks Fim and Debbie for helping me out.
            Baddie, go back to writing.
            xx

            Liked by 1 person

          • OK, OK. You win. You guys get to write the blurb on the jacket of the book!! And free coffee for life at Badfish Cafe. And for the third time this week, I’m hiding over here in the corner … blushing—a “sublime double effect.” Yikes. No pressure on my next post, eh. And here you are writing poetry as a comment, so apparently the poetry writing course is working on you, Lucile?! Thanks so much for making my day…again and again. Cheers!

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          • Really? I cannot believe that! Blurb on the jacket from us? But wait? Free coffee? We prefer tea, served like in China, following all rituals of the tea ceremony, ok?
            Get out and don’t hide in the corner, come here and keep writing!!
            Haha you’re the 2nd person saying that the course may have had an effect on me. It’s good that it wasn’t the other way.
            Happy to make your day because for the first time you don’t hate me anymore! Yay yay! You made my year!
            Thank you!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Badfish and Chips Cafe…now serving Chinese tea with complete ceremony and pomp.
            Come “here”? You mean come to Amsterdam? If so…don’t think I haven’t thought of that numerous times in the past. It is one of the places that I consider moving to (for a year or two) to write this thing.
            Poetry: yeah, you went all waxing poetic in your words, very beautiful language.

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          • Where is the tea and the ceremony ? I’ve been waiting for that the whole day and I’m about to give up and go to sleep.
            I think you would love living here for two two years; and if that book needs to be born here, so be it! It’s fate. You should oblige.
            I think I had a poetry high…but the effect may have vanished. 😉

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          • I’m sure I would love living there. However, I might get distracted and not sit a write! You WERE on a poetry high!! They come and go, like all highs.

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          • Dear Lucille, I’ve missed you! I havent seen you around here for a few days and I missed you! Baddie’s posts usually make me laugh – but your comments truly brought tears to me eyes. You have captured Mr B. Fish well yourself – and that’s what provoked the tears. I dont think he realises how good he is, because he just writes and photographs how he feels. In other comments you may have missed, he has been accused of lengthening peoples lives through his humour ( yeah, seriously), and being the illegitimate child of some blogging gods. It just goes on. Though he does admit to paying these random bloggers for their superlatives. Have you got your cheque in the mail yet? Mine’s still missing. Anyhow, glad you are back, Lucille. I missed you around the Badfish’s waters.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, and Debbie, I found out about Ant Medicine:

            It is about patience.

            “Ant can carry a leaf over hundreds of miles just to get it back to the anthill…
            Ant’s medicine is the strategy of patience. Ant is a builder, like Beaver, and is aggressive, like Badger; has stamina, like Elk, and scrutiny like Mouse, and give-away like Turkey.

            Ant people are active, community minded folks who see the greater future needs of their town. Ant people are planners, like Squirrel, and are content to see their dreams being built a little at a time. This a rare quality…

            Patience does have its rewards! Ant people have a knowing about the sweet victory at the end of the line. There is never a concern about “going without” if they are late for the opening of a sale. If what they want is sold out, they are sure that something equal or better is available.

            If you have Ant Medicine, you eat slowly and deliberately and are content in knowing that “what is yours will come to you.” This knowing is good medicine. It shows a trust in the Universe to provide…

            If Ant meandered into [your life on a particular] day, it is time to show a little trust and patience in some life situation. You may have forgotten that you will always receive that which you need, at the time you need it most….”

            Two thoughts:

            Perhaps the ants were trying to pick our Badfish up and carry him to the Temple?
            OR
            Isn’t it interesting that the Temple experience brought to light that the people of Bali are very much Ant people? Their goal is bringing good wishes to ALL. The ants were a way to show the connection of the land and it’s beings are ONE.

            Lucile, I know exactly what you are talking about. I’ve often taken days to read but one post, sometimes because of the length, but also because it is like a savory meal, and I’m drinking in its deliciousness, sipping, not gulping. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Jeeeesh, Fim! You should post this stuff! I think the ants were speaking to me. I don’t think they meant to hurt me or crawl into my shorts. They were just doing their ant thing, hive mind, hill mind. I wonder if I’m ant people? I don’t think I harbor all those fine qualities. But I like the good stuff.

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          • HA! And I assume you think THIS is “NOT” ganging up on me, eh?
            But funny enough…I think you’re are right here Fim, I am living in the past. I just can’t get my head around how much things cost. Five dollars is no longer five dollars, it’s more like a pack of gum. And right, Magnum is the last show I saw on TV. Are you suggesting else has aired?

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      • You realize that what I’m responding to has inspired me to respond as I have, so YAY, I’m glad you love it. It’s a mutual admiration society.

        I made you blush? Are you being modest? I can live with that. 😉 Would it bother you if Debbie and I did gang up on you? 😛

        I have actually published a magazine, in my younger years. Does that count?
        I don’t think I had a choice of what I actually became. Life takes a body where it does. I am simply (favorite quote coming up) “a leaf driven by the wind.” Life brought me here. The rest is history, as this will be tomorrow, when you will perhaps read this. Stop with the violins, already, and the rolling of the eyes.

        I guess the papers won out. But, I will wait patiently for your next post.

        I’ll tell you about the unions one day. It’s quite an interesting story. It may show up in a post over on Quantum Hermit.

        Hoping your week has been a good one.

        Peace out!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fim, I think you are confusing yourself with Clara from the Matt Smith Doctor. 🙂 Good on you digging up the dirt on ant medicine. I concur on both accounts – the Balinese and ants both show us how to live in Unity, as One, and Gunung Agung sent the ants to drag Badfish to the Temple, but he was too heavy. So they bit him where it hurts instead. Badfish, next time you go back, you really must find out how to honour the Mother Mountain.
          and Hive mind indeed, nice bee-ing with you, Fimn-Famn 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Can a person confuse themselves with someone if they don’t know who it is? Not familiar with Clara from Matt Smith Doctor. Not familiar with Matt Smith Doctor. But now I have two new people to check out.

            I work with Animal Medicine cards. I’m personally looking into including some beings I’ve found were not included. But Ants, they’re featured. 🙂 Not to mention, that I have a personal ‘relationship’ with ants, of the carpenter kind. They live beneath the floors, and in the walls. I spend the summer rescuing them and helping them find the front door.

            Ditto, Debbie! Always a pleasure 🙂

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          • I just realized I have a personal relationship with ants, too. Of the “climbing” kind. I live on the 21st floor. And ants, tiny ants, periodically find their way to my bathroom. Where do they come from, where do they go? What are they telling me?

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          • Fimn, I thought you were a Dr Who fan so I thought you’d get the allusion! Matt Smith is the 11th Dr, preceding Peter Capaldi – who I believe to be the best Doctor since the series got revived – pure brilliance – and there was an episode introducing who Clara was, besides a face stuck in a dalek body, and it showed an autumn leaf falling to the ground, and the leaf touched Clara’s father as it fell, provoking him to turn around and have the guts to speak to Clara’s mother, who he fancied. Clara keeps the leaf as its supposed to show how one insignificant incident can lead to great things.

            That’s interesting about your ants – you must have ant medicine too – maybe you could help the Proprietor of the Cafe out – he doesnt seem to be listening to the ants. Shame, they might bite him again to make their message known. I love spiders and once I had thousands of babies on my patio . Other people suggested i call in the exterminators of buy poison to spray on my patio, i refused off course – so many baby spiders – so much good medicine!!!!! Cheers Fimn. 🙂

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          • Doctor WHo? I do not love spiders. Ew. But I do not exterminate them, will not kill one. I move them outside, but don’t hoard them on a patio…!

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        • Modest? Hmmm, ok, maybe a bit. But maybe it’s more like insecure!!? And you already have ganged up on me…PRESSURE!!
          A magazine? You are a hell of a story there, Fim Noir. Dark shadows all around.
          And yeah…my name in Gaelic means “of the wind.” And it has definitely been blowing me from one shore to another my whole life…without a map, without a plan. So there’s no maestro here conducting a violin section. It’s all flutes and winds.

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      • Your blog is spectacular so it is easy to get sucked in. I actually had to tell myself to stop before I procrastinated my other tasks for too long, but I will definitely be coming back as often as possible. Thank you so much for mentioning the title of my blog, it’s a reference to Casablanca, my absolute favorite movie of all time. I was worried no one would get it, so Im glad to hear you like it 🙂

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          • That’s a good idea! Im working on having a logo designed, but didn’t think to mention the movie to the designer, which I am thinking now may have been a mistake. Not too many people have actually seen that film, in spite of being such a classic, so I think I’ll bring the designer a copy for him to watch before he submits the first draft of the logo. Thanks for the reminder!

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          • I like your logo, it definitely fits the name a lot! Thank you so much for the suggestions, I will be sure to pass them along to the designer as I lack creativity when it comes to design. Your ideas have really helped me get a better idea of what I want.

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  17. Incredible pictures and it again amazes me how can someone write 3 posts – 1000 words each for a days trip…hmmm love your narration and your adventures and the “du jour’s” even if some were poopy 🙂
    Our guides name was Panca (pronounced Pancha) the fifth child, your post clarified my doubts about why so many people called so many other people – Agung 🙂
    and finally in defense of mangosteen – they taste good so people eat it and its tea is also not that bad 🙂

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    • You know, I remember the title, but I never liked sci-fi stuff, so never went to see it. I don’t think there will be a struggle, I think humans will do something stupid to obliterate themselves, then the insects take over. Thanks for hanging out here and commenting!!

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  18. What a story…a missing soap, gecko poop mysteriously showing up, ant-mania…I just had to keep reading to see where this adventure would take us! What a story! 🙂 And what a beautiful treasure in the end. Lovely post! 🙂

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  19. …and in additional to a shed load of beautiful photos, your words whisk me away on another, magical tour that makes me feel like I am right there with you. I want to be in your beautiful happy place now!
    And yes, I may get a lucky image handed to me by the photography gods from time to time, but you are the golden child of the blogging gods. You hit it out of the park again with this one (which is more than I can say for the Cubs who blew it in game one of the National Championship Series today…. but then this is a place for comments on your wonderful post, not a place to rant on about LOSERS)

    Like

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