During our last few days in Bali we decided to do a biking tour. We had heard great things about it, and thought it would be a fun way to see some more of the countryside.
We left from a restaurant near Mt. Batur, it was foggy that morning so our view wasn’t as great as I’d hoped.
We hopped on our bikes and set off. It was basically terrifying, I go biking pretty often, but we started off on the side of a very busy road, and it was pretty steep, and I was given strict instructions to never use the front brake, so I obviously used it constantly and nearly sent myself flying over the handlebars a few times.
Once we got going though, it was great. It was a beautiful day, we got to see a lot of different places including a school, a cock-fighting ring and we even met a guy along the road who invited us to come in and check out his house.
Our guide was a young guy, he was very friendly and knowledgeable, and told us a lot about Balinese culture, so I thought I would share everything that I learned:
-a traditional balinese house has 4 buildings. “a compound” one for the parents, one for the kids, a kitchen, and a spiritual room for rituals. The compound is surrounded by a wall on all sides, to keep negative spirits out, and separate the family from the craziness of the outside. There is only one entrance, which is guarded by statues to ward off evil spirits and black magic, and also statues who are there to welcome friends into the home.
-Balinese kids don’t get their names until they are 1 1/2 years old. They believe in reincarnation, so until the child is 1 1/2, they believe that the soul of the child still belongs to the ancestor, so it isn’t right to call them by a different name.
When the child turns 1 1/2, there is a special naming ceremony where they get their names. Before that, they are known as Wayan, Made, Ketut, etc, which actually stand for their birth order, the oldest child is Wayan, the second is Made, and so on. So when you meet Balinese, you will hear these names a lot, but they are not actually the given names, more like a nickname.
-Balinese kids go to school 6 days a week, from 7:30 to 1:30. Primary school is free, and mandatory for all children, but middle and high school is very expensive, so many children can not afford to go, especially people from the country, as many of them don’t yet see the value in continued education. They learn 3 languages, Balinesian, Indonesian, and English, starting when they are about 9 years old.
– When Balinese children are born, the Balinese believe that they are born with 3 siblings already, the placenta, the blood, and the other birth liquids that come out with them. The placenta of each child, and each generation, is buried within the house compound of the family, as a way to keep part of every family member connected to the home.
Young adults may go off to the city to find work, or move away for awhile, but they still feel that their home is very important, and they know they will one day return to look after their parents, and start their own families.
-Balinese believe it is not safe for children under 3 months to touch the ground because it will make them sick, so you will always see mothers carrying their young children. At 3 months, there is a special ceremony where they touch the ground for the first time, and then they are taught to stand and walk.
-Birthdays aren’t a big deal for Balinese children until they get older. At 17 or 18 they will have a ceremony to celebrate the boys becoming men, and the girls becoming women.
There is another ceremony that takes place right before Balinese people marry. During the ceremony, the points of the 6 front teeth are filed down to be flat across. The Balinese believe that within every person there is both good and evil, and that the filing down of the teeth helps the person to conquer the bad things within themselves, like greed, jealousy and anger.
This ceremony is still performed today, as a way to keep up the tradition, but it isn’t done quite as severely now, because of intervention from dentists. In the past, all the teeth would be filed to be straight across, and the straighter the teeth, the more attractive a person was considered. Now, the points may be filed off the canine teeth, and slightly off the other teeth, but it is more as a way to continue with the tradition.
-The traditional Balinese calendar year is only 210 days long, so their years are shorter than ours. They also go by the international calendar as well.
It was really hot the day we went biking, and we were pretty exhausted by the time we got to the end of the trip, but it was really fun, and I’m definitely glad we did it.
Before heading back to Ubud, we had lunch at this beautiful little restaurant, and they served us strips of soybean bark, possibly, in this amazing teriyaki-ish sauce. I have no idea what it was, so I can’t even try to track it down, but it was so delicious that I have dreams about it sometimes.