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A Year Around The World

Bali By The Numbers

INDONESIA | Wednesday, 4 March 2015 | Views [356]

Think of a number between one and ten. Now multiple that number by nine. If the resultant number is a two-digit number, add the first and second digits together (for example, if the number is 72, you add the 7 to the 2 to come up with 9).  Now subtract five from whatever number you got. Remember the number you ended up with. Then determine the letter of the alphabet that corresponds to the number you ended up with (example: 1=a, b=2, c=3, ect.). Think of a country that starts with that letter. Think of an animal that starts with the last letter of that country.  Finally, think of a fruit that starts with the last letter of that animal.


Did you get an Orange Kangaroo from Denmark? Chances are you did. 98% percent of people do. 


I was in junior high when I learned that particular “mind reading” trick, and I thought it was pretty clever at the time.  In the week I just spent in Bali, I learned a similar trick.


Just like above, think of another a number between one and ten. Now multiple that number by nine. Just like the above, if the resultant number is a two-digit number, add the first and second digits together. Now subtract five from that number. Now think of the birth order associated with that number (1=1st born, 2=2nd born, ect.) Now think of a baby name, boy or girl.


Did you get a fourth born child named Ketut? If you’re Balinese you did. You had to. Boy or girl, the fourth born chid in a Balinese family is always named Ketut. Since the Balinese tend to have rather large families, there are a lot of Ketuts running around (or more likely riding mopeds around) the streets of Bali. What’s even more fascinating is that the fifth born child always shares the name of the first born child. So you have four children all with set names, and then you start all over again at the beginning. 


Of course the mystical island of Bali has a lot more to offer than just odd naming practices. It’s an anomaly in its nation. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation on earth (250 million people and counting), but 90% of Bali’s four million inhabitants are Hindu. There are Hindu temples everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Every street corner, household, hotel and rice field seems to have its own temple, and these temples aren’t just ignored relics from a bygone era. Every day, fresh offerings of rice, incense and flowers are brought to the temples by the Balinese people. 


Bali has beaches, monkey forests, magnificent rice terraces…. and hordes of Chinese package tourists. I’ve never seen so many Chinese outside of China, and every single one of them seems to be armed with a “selfie stick” for taking endless self portraits in front of everything from palaces to public toilets. If you’re a luddite like me, you may not be familiar with the term “selfie stick.” I wasn’t until this trip. It’s basically a telescoping little pole with a hand grip on one end and something to hold your cell phone (aka camera) on the other end. It extends your reach slightly when you take photos with your phone. Seeing a sea of them directly in your line of vision as you try to watch a traditional Balinese dance performance really enhances the experience.  


We spent four nights in Seminyak, the slightly more upscale beach area on the southern part of the island. The hotel was a tranquil oasis in the hubbub of the traffic choked city. The spa at the hotel was amazing, and we took full advantage of it. Massages are very cheap, and very good, in Bali.  


The next five nights we stayed just outside the town of Ubud, an amazing little hamlet surrounded by rice paddies that is slowly being strangled by day tourists on tour buses. For my yogi friends, I highly recommend Ubud as a place to deepen your practice, especially the amazing Yoga Barn, which provides excellent instruction, several types of classes and other mindfulness based offerings throughout the day and early evening. They also have a great cafe. One evening, I attended a program at the Yoga Barn called “Sound Medicine,” which was basically a concert performed by four amazingly talented musicians playing a multitude of instruments from around the world, everything from a Senegalese guitar to Tibetan bowls. The best thing about it was that there wasn’t a selfie stick in site. Although, I’d hazard to guess there were some Ketuts in attendance. 

Tags: bali, chinese, indonesia, monkey, seminyak, temples, ubud, yoga, yoga barn

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