Volunteering in Bali part 2

23rd – 25th October

The next few days were not as eventful as the past few, it was mainly doing the farm work in the morning. Digging up trenches and pulling up weeds. Absolutely sweating my ass of for a couple of hours and feeling the most disgusting I have ever felt in my life haha but it was good.

 

Then in the afternoon we went for some food and also a walk around the market in the centre of Ubud, although typical Asia and its heavy rain, the shopping got cut short due to the rain ahhh well I guess more food and beer is in order instead then hey? So I tried fried ice cream for the first time and omg what a taste sensation that was.

One of the days Manu showed us to a place he had been a few times for lunch which was actually a Sumatran restaurant and the food was delicious. It was a sort of buffet place where all the food was out on show but the people who worked there walked around with your plate and you point at the things you want. I also discovered the Bali dish Cap Cay which became my staple food for the rest of my time in Bali, it is delicious, it’s basically like a vegetable stew and then you can have it with rice or without.

On the 25th when we got back from dinner Chakra and some of his friends were sat around outside his house playing guitar and singing, practicing for a wedding the following day which he said he wanted to take us too….wait….what am I supposed to wear to a Balinese wedding? Think I may need to go shopping!!

 

26th – October

We all went to the farm in the morning as usual to continue with building the chicken house and digging up the weeds and grass, feeding the pigs etc.

Then we went back to the homestay and had a bit of a rest and then me and Ruby went into the centre as we both needed to buy something to wear for the evening and I needed to get my Christmas presents for everyone back home.

We did lots of walking around the markets and the shops and eventually we both got everything we needed, and thought we would reward ourselves by going to the coconut shop where they have homemade coconut ice cream and you can have it on top of smoothies or in fruit salads and omg it is so flipping good!! I went for the fruit salad and muesli option which was delicious.

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Once we had finished the coconut delightfulness we jumped in a cab back to the homestay to get ready for the wedding that evening, I had bought a long wrap around skirt and a white lacy top which covered my shoulders.

We walked to the wedding as we knew we would all be drinking and thought it best not to ride the bikes even though there are no laws there about drink driving but for safety reasons we thought it best haha.

On the way there we walked down little back streets and there were so many dogs barking their heads off at us but we were with chakra so they didn’t really approach us which was good even though I was still scared and thinking they would smell my fear and try to kill me.

When we got to the wedding we walked through an archway into the house area and we were greeted by some of the women who I presume to be bridesmaids and they were offering us some snacks and drinks, we then went and sat down with chakra and started drinking Teak, the way you usually drink it is that you have a small glass and a jug and you pour a glass for the person sitting next to you, they then drink it or really down it like a shot and then pour the next person a glass. So there is usually only one glass between large groups of people.

Not long after we sat down chakra started telling us more of his stories. We were discussing religion and how he was not religious but his wife is very religious and wondered if it was ever a problem, he then told us that it was a problem in the past and that they were married before and actually separated for 7 years due to their disagreements in religion, but after 7 years had passed and chakra had been working in other countries he came back to Bali and met his wife again and the rekindled their relationship and both now agree to disagree but also accept each other’s views on the world which I think is great. Just because one person believes in something doesn’t mean everyone else in the world has to believe that too.

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs I think and we shouldn’t judge others on what they believe in……well I say that apart from these bloody idiots who believe they need to blow people up or themselves because of religion…..those idiots can FUCK RIGHT OFF!! Blow yourself up and all the others who believe the same but leave us normal and sane people to enjoy life please you bastards!

Ok sorry about that….rant over…..back to the wedding where was i? Haha

So we were drinking the Teak and then chakra said that some erotic dancing was about to happen out the front and Manu’s eyes lit up and off he went outside and of course we followed, what was this erotic dancing going to be? I thought Balinese women were very reserved are they really going to start doing a strip tease now?

Everyone sat around on the walls and on the floor and out came a woman dressed in a sarong and a big headpiece and started dancing around to the music the men were playing on their drums behind her, she then chooses a man from the crowd and he then has to show off his dancing skills to her, and then she chooses someone else to dance with so not so erotic dancing after all but erotic for Bali I suppose. The funniest part of all this was that Manu got chosen to go up and dance with her and he was very excited about this, unfortunately I did record it all but the camera on the iPhone 6 for recording is absolutely rubbish so you can’t see a single thing. – I need a new phone!!

After the erotic dancing we went back inside and had some food and then went to watch Chakra and his band playing and singing all different types of songs, me and Manu were still drinking Teak and dancing around listening to him.

It got to around midnight and we all decided to leave as we did need to be up in the morning for the farm work, so we all left besides chakra and started walking back to the homestay but this time we did not have his protection against the big group of dogs so I was panicking as they were barking so loud at us and following us and I was thinking omg they can smell my fear they are going to kill me which made me even more scared which made me think they could smell me even more, luckily no one got attacked by the dogs and we all made it home safe and sound.

27th October

I woke up the morning after the wedding with such a headache and spent the whole day in bed watching fear the walking dead and also deciding on my plans for the next few weeks, I was quickly running out of money and knew that I would be needing it for my return to Australia in January so I decided that I wanted to go home a bit earlier than I was planning on.

My amazing dad said that he wanted to buy me a scuba dive course for Christmas as I had already done my first course the open water scuba diver I wanted to continue with my learning so I decided that I would do the next course in line which was the advanced course.

I spent ages researching places I could go and eventually settled on the Gili Islands just off Bali. I ended up booking a package with a hotel as it was so much easier than booking everything individually…I will go more into that in the next post about the scuba course.

After a busy day planning my next few weeks I took myself for a Mexican dinner at a place called taco casa and it was delicious! – I do talk about food a lot don’t I! But I love it! Haha

28th – October

The next day we went and did the usual farm work in the morning and then in the afternoon we decided that we would go and explore some places nearby that ruby had found online, so we settled on going for lunch in the rice fields.

We all jumped on the bikes and went off to find this mystery place and it was quite hard to find…thank god for google maps because the roads we had to drive up and down didn’t look like roads at all, more like little alleyways to nothing, but once we got through them we were on a thin little lane that goes through the rice fields and had lots of cafes and retreats, how on earth people actually manage to get to these retreats with all their luggage I will never know because you could just about fit a bike down the path.

We settled on the cheapest café and all went and lay on the pillows and looked out to the rice fields, got our self some food and a coconut to drink and Manu decided that he would try to jump up the wall to the café rather than climbing the 5 steps to his right, which made us all laugh….ahhh Manu such a funny chap!

29th – October

So this was the last day of farm work as we had Sundays off and I was leaving on the Monday. So we all went and did our farm work in the morning and the evening and then chakra said he wanted to take us to a party.

We all got on the bikes and followed him to a temple where there were lots of people sat on the floor singing or more so chanting to Krishna, chakra said that we should leave because it wasn’t a party if there was no food or alcohol, I like his thinking.

We walked around by the temple which is also a hotel with lots of cabins all the way down hundreds of steps to the river, it was really nice.

After we had walked down the hundreds of steps we then had to get back up the hundreds of steps and my legs and butt were killing me after that but I made it….just about.

We went back to the homestay after the disappointing party and chilled there for a bit until we were all ready to go to Bali Bohemia which is a café/bar that has live music, as soon as we were about to leave in typical Asia style started pouring it down and the little pathway around the homestay quickly became a stream.

We waited for around 30mins and it was still raining, but we all decided to put our raincoats on and go to the bar anyway as it was our last proper night together.

When we got there the band were not playing, but setting up still and they didn’t end up starting for another couple of hours due to the rain one of their band mates had not arrived yet. While we waited we ordered food and some drinks.

I discovered the poor man’s mojito which was made with Arak and it was delicious, the band eventually came on and they were really good, they were an African band and I loved the music. I do love this about travelling, that you get introduced to lots of different types of music from different cultures that you would not normally listen too.

30th October

It was my last day with everyone and when I woke up and went over to the homestay Jess had realised that her visa was going to run out and that she needed to get it extended immediately so we were helping her get all her things together for it.

We went for lunch and then into the centre of Ubud to get some of her printing done and once all of that was done we all decided that we would go to some waterfalls, so we got on the bikes and started riding to where we thought the waterfalls were, turns out we went the wrong way but im pretty happy we did because we ended up at Tegalalang rice fields which were really beautiful, so we decided to stop and have a coffee at one of the cafes there.

We then went back to the homestay and I had to go and pack up all my stuff ready to move on in the morning, god my backpack is so full now I seriously need to ditch some stuff!!

Then it was Cap Cay time and then a pretty early night ready for tomorrow.

I had such a good time staying at Chakras and especially with the other volunteers. It was my first work away experience and I have to say it was a great one. I am really going to miss everyone I met, such is the way of a traveller! Always meeting amazing people and then having to go separate ways but I always know I will meet more of these amazing people along my journey which is a nice thing to know.

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Volunteering in Bali

19th October

I arrived up to Ubud around midday and found my way to Chakra’s house but he was not there, I met the other people who were volunteering and they told me that I would be staying somewhere else as the beds had now all been filled at Chakras. I stayed with them for the day and then I got picked up at 7pm to take me to where I would be staying. It was about a 30min drive to get there and it was really nice but I had absolutely no signal and they didn’t have WiFi or anything either. The family were lovely but also didn’t speak a word of English so I thought it would be best for me to go back to where all the other volunteers were and check into the hostel over the road the next morning.

20th October

When I woke up in the morning I went down stairs to see the family and I ended up helping them prepare all their fruit and vegetables for them to sell to restaurants and hotels.

Chakra called and I said to him that I think I would prefer to move back closer to them and check into the hostel so he spoke with the man I was staying with and asked him to drop me off back to his house on the way to their sales drop offs.

When I arrived the other guys were on the way to the farm and told me that we were leaving at 10am to go to Denpasar, so I went and checked into my hostel and then walked back over to chakras at 10am ready to go and got chatting to everyone.

There were 5 of us volunteering for him.

Jess – from America

Ruby – from Singapore

Babette – from Germany

Manu – from France

And then me! So a nice mix of nationalities I thought.

Chakra turned up with a truck which could fit 3 people in the front and he put a blanket on the back for the rest of us to sit on. All of us girls decided that we would sit on the back and Manu got in front, it was fun for the first 30mins until we got to our first stop off to pick up a load of Meringa plants which look like wood. The plant grows and they chop it down to use and replant it to grow again, the plant itself is a superfood and great for the earth as well.

After we picked those up there was less room in the back so things got a little more squashed but it was still fun sat in the back especially as we were on busy roads and when we drove past everyone they were quite surprised to see a bunch of westerners (or Bule as they like to call us) on the back of a pickup truck with loads of wood.

We then arrived at the next place which was a house for disabled children which chakra helps them with trying to raise awareness and funds and also helps with planting trees and plants for them. They were so lovely there and we all sat on the floor and the brought us lots of food which had Meringa in. it was delicious. After the food they showed us what they do with all the Meringa that they grow here, they dehydrate it and then blend it up into a powder which they then put into little pots and sell that to stores. The Meringa powder as I mentioned earlier is a superfood and has so many beneficial qualities, and you use just a teaspoon of the powder in cooking, or you can add it to your water to give you more energy throughout the day.

Just before we were about to leave they told us they have some baby Meringa plants that we need to take with us also, so the truck now was getting pretty full, so I jumped in the front seat with Chakra and Manu.

I had a good talk with chakra, he is a very interesting man, he is not religious at all which is surprising in this country as everywhere you go here you are surrounded by Hindu religion with all the temples and offerings on the streets.

He says to me that he believes in the power of nature and not a god as such. He believes that nature will respond to human actions, like many of the tsunamis in the world are in countries where people dump stuff in the oceans and its nature’s way of wiping them out and giving the land back all the rubbish, and he thinks it will happen to Bali one day too as most of the people here are uneducated with what dumping rubbish into the rivers and the ocean will do so they do it.

It was a very interesting and deep conversation for the journey but I enjoyed speaking to him a lot.

The next stop was to a silent retreat surrounded by rice fields and it was beautiful. We were dropping off the Meringa plants and cuttings to them, and we had a look around while they were all sorting that out, and I saw a pineapple growing which I had never seen before. I always thought they grew either straight out the ground like vegetables or that the top of the pineapple was connected to the plant and the pineapple its self was hanging down….learn something new every day hey!

We then got back to the homestay around 4pm and we all went and had a shower then headed out for food to a cheap Indonesian restaurant called café bla bla. After food we walked back to the homestay and we were all ready for bed after the busy day but chakra was waiting for us and said he wanted to take us to a Tuak place (Tuak is a natural alcohol made from palm trees, where they drain the tree and the liquid that comes out is already alcoholic. Only around 2% but alcoholic none the less) so we all jumped on the bikes and followed him to this place which just looked like an empty shop but with lots of people just sat on the floor.

We were the only westerner there’s so everyone was having a good look at us and laughing when we were drinking the Tuak. It tasted really nice and not alcoholic at all which is the dangerous thing about it. It sort of tasted like a sweet but also bitter almost vinegary taste. They served the drinks in old water bottles and we had a few to drink there while chakra was talking to us about many things to do with the history of the world and how places came to be what they are today. I don’t understand how this man can fit so much information in his head.

After a few bottles of Tuak and many many stories we head back to the homestay but not before we got some Tuak takeout’s in plastic bags. We then sit around on the front and chakra brings out his guitar and starts playing music which we had to guess who sang it and what it was called. We did this for an hour or so before looking at the time and realising it was 1am and knowing we all had to be up at 6am we then decided to call it a night.

21st October

We woke up at 6am feeling rather tired but not hungover which was a nice feeling and headed to the farm for a few hours of work.

We were all quite unsure about what exactly needed to be done so we decided that we needed to sit down with chakra and get a proper idea of what he wants to happen there, otherwise we are just digging up grass and weeds all over the place when we may not need to in that area and I tell you what it is hard bloody work in that heat.

When we got back from the farm Chakra said he would like to take us to the rice milling and show us how it happens. So we jumped on the bikes and went to meet the people who deliver the rice to the clients, their main client is a company called Bali Buda which are a chain of restaurants in Bali. Chakra needed to look at the rice and make sure that it had been milled correctly and was up to standard of selling which it was.

After that we went back to the place where I stayed the first night and went to the back of the house where the milling machine was, we were going to mill some red rice but the people who had been there before us had left lots of rice that needed to be milled so we did it for them.

You pour the big bags of rice onto the bottom of the machine which then uses an elevator system to take it to the top and drop it into the machine, which has rubber bands running around inside that takes off the husk of the rice and shoots the husks out the back of the machine and the milled rice comes out the bottom. That is how you make brown rice and if you then want to make white rice you use the same system and the same rice but shut off the first compartment where it comes out and redirect it to a polishing area which then polishes the rice after the husk has been removed to take off an extra layer and then you have white rice.

I never knew that brown and white rice are the same thing and that white rice just needed an extra process in the machines, I just had always presumed they were different plants.

After all the rice milling we took chakra for food to discuss what he actually wants done on the farm, and we all felt like it went really well and that we had a plan of what needed to be done…..a lot of hard work was what needed to be done! Digging up trenches so we could get water running all the way through the farm, digging up very thick and long grass and weeds, planting trees, building chicken houses! Yep lots of hard work to come! Haha

After all of that we went back to the homestay and then had a bit of a nap, when I went back over to meet the guys for food jess told me that her phone was missing, and they thought that it was one of the men working on the house for chakra. After they had all left I told her to sign into my phone and use find my iPhone, it then showed up at the place that all the workers lived. We told chakra about it and he started calling the manager saying he knows the phone was there and he wanted it back.

While he was getting all that sorted out we decided to go for food to a vegetarian restaurant which was delicious, I ended up having a taco salad with poached eggs and red rice….yummy!!

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When we got back we were expecting Jess’ phone to be there but it wasn’t, the manager said that he had asked all his workers to give the phone back but they all denied having the phone, so chakra and jess took my phone and hopped on the bikes to go over there, they were gone for a while but when they came back they still didn’t have the phone, so obviously the person who took it decided to hide it.

Chakra told them all that none of them were getting paid or coming back to work until the phone was returned……it never was!

 

22nd October

This was Babette’s last day with us and Chakra wanted to take us all to see the world heritage rice fields which would take around 2 hours on the bikes. I was not looking forward to this as I was on the back of Manu’s bike and I felt like such a fatso compared to everyone else and that I was weighing his bike down.

Since my dodgy hip incident on the farm in Australia my hips are a lot less flexible than they used to be and get really tight (I swear I am not 70 years old yet am I?) so sitting on the back on Manu’s small bike and having to try and remain still my hips start to hurt and eventually feel like they are locked in place. My back is killing me and even my right knee starts hurting again after around 10 years of it being healed. (long story but old boyfriend who was an absolute asshole chucked plates at me dragged me through them and basically cut my leg open and I needed around 18 stitches – I sure do know how to pick them don’t I haha) anyways…..all of this pain comes after only 20mins on the back of the bike! KILL ME NOW!

Luckily….well I thought it was lucky anyway the heavens opened up and started absolutely hammering it down, we were all wearing shorts and small tops so we got cold and very wet very fast, luckily we saw somewhere with cover to wait out the rain. It was some kind of bike shop but there was one of the cart men there selling Bakso which was only 5000ringit, which works out to be around 30p for a bowl of this lovely soup, so we all ended up waiting around there eating soup and chain-smoking for around an hour before the rain stopped enough for us to continue on the way.

And onwards to the rice fields which were absolutely amazing. We sat at the top to have a Bali coffee looking out to the rice fields which was really nice and such a beautiful view, chakra pointed out to us which one of these plantations was his. After we had finished our coffees we jumped back on the bikes and rode down through the fields to chakras plantation and we all got out and went and had a look, I nearly ended up falling in one of the streams of water that they make to keep the rice nice and moist…luckily I managed to stabilise myself.

Once chakra had walked us around his plantation we got back on the bikes and rode down the road a little way and stopped on a big bridge, we all got off and looked over the side and saw a river and next to the river was a dirty looking pond that none of us would ever have gave a second look at. We walked down the steps to this dirty looking pool and stuck our hands in there…..it was so warm. It was a natural hot spring that was full of sulphur and other minerals which gave the pool its murky colour. Off came the clothes and in we went, it was so nice especially as it had got quite a bit cooler as it had been raining so much, none of us wanted to get out.

Not long after we got in the hot spring we were joined by 3 Balinese kids who stripped off everything and jumped in with us, I think they found it funny that us westerners were in there pool with them. Unfortunately it was time to get out and head back so that Babette could make her bus down to the south of the island in time to meet her friends.

Back on the bikes for an hour and half and back to the pain and the suffering of my quickly ageing body! But I made it back in one piece thank god! I think the hot spring had a lot to do with that as I felt like it had made all my muscles relax while I was in there.

As soon as we got back I said my goodbyes to Babette and I went and got myself showered and changed ready to go and meet Lisa and Nathan who I know from home. They were on their honeymoon. I walked out of the homestay and up the road for a bit until I found one of the bike taxis to take me all the way to the centre.

When I arrived at the bar they were in Lisa was on the phone to the banks in England as her card had apparently stopped working, she was on the phone for a while and I was just chatting away to Nathan. She then realised at the end of the call that the ATM she had tried to get money out of did not actually have a visa sticker on the front which means it doesn’t accept her card and that would be why they can’t get any money out. She quickly hung up on them.

We went to a few bars and had some cocktails and then I joined them for dinner at a place they had visited a few years before, it was lovely! Although our table wasn’t ready when we arrived and we did have to wait about 10 mins for it but ahhh well that’s Bali time for you.

After food we decided to go for another drink somewhere so we started walking around unsure of where to go and then we heard bob Marley playing down a little road so we obviously decided to follow the voice of bob…I mean come on who can resist him?

We ended up in a bar with a reggae band about to come on and also a monkey running around the place, I obviously went over and wanted to say hello to this tiny monkey. When I went over the man who was holding it just put it straight on my back and luckily I had my phone in my hand so quickly passed it to him and asked him to take a photo. I then went and sat back down and some guy decided to come and sit next to us who told me that the monkey was drunk. It had been doing shots of tequila which I just feel sorry for the monkey that the owner was feeding it booze when it was so tiny. Poor little guy.

Me and Lisa got up and had a bit of a boogie and left Nath with the guy who had taken a shining to me, and we stayed there for a few drinks and then it was time to go home. The guy who had come over and sat next to me tried to offer me a lift home but I said no, god knows where he would have actually taken me!

It was so nice to see them in Bali.

So far a good first week….to continue reading about my time with Chakra click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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