By Barbara Rachko, 2012 participant …
As soon as my friend Donna Tang and I walked through the airport terminal at Denpasar, Bali, I knew we were in for an adventure. We passed an exquisitely carved Hindu gate in the terminal and then a sign saying that anyone caught bringing illegal drugs into Bali would be punished by death (“That’s a bit harsh,” Dennis, a fellow Far Horizons traveler remarked). Jasmine flower leis were put over our heads (someone joked, “Exactly what we need after sleeping in our clothes!”) as we experienced a rush of fascinating sights, sounds, and smells. And we hadn’t even left the airport yet!
By the next day I had fallen in love with Bali. Our hotel was breathtaking, especially to a weary New Yorker who’d had it with bricks and cement. After a day relaxing, swimming, getting massages, and doing yoga (Eat, Pray, Love, anyone?), we began our education about Bali’s rich and complex culture. Our guide Budi, who, as I would later find out is a local celebrity, is an encyclopedia of all things Balinese. Over the following days we visited spectacular Hindu temples, were invited into private house compounds, saw dance and gamelan demonstrations at which we were the only guests, watched artisans at work in their studios, and otherwise went off the beaten track.
As I write now, some months later, my favorite memories are of the once-every-fifty-years festival at Blahbatuh, standing with my feet in the Indian Ocean at Pura Tanah Lot, having lunch on a crater rim with an unforgettable view of Lake Batur, visiting a gamelan foundry, walking through ancient rice terraces at Jatiluwich while listening to the rush of irrigation water that is channeled down from volcanoes, and seeing a double ikat weaver’s workshop in Twnganan. I still chuckle when I think about our visit to Borobodour Temple in Java. Over and over I was asked by groups of children, who were visiting there on school field trips, if they could take my picture. Each time a solitary shy teenager would walk up to me with her camera, as though she wanted a photo of me alone. When I said yes, a group of twelve or more would suddenly materialize out of who knows where, giggling wildly as they ran up and surrounded me to be in the picture!
Travel with Far Horizons to Bali September 27 – October 12, 2013
Barbara’s artwork can be seen on her website: http://www.barbararachko.com/