Christmas in Bali

Flying 25 hours and halfway around the world is never easy but always worth it. We stopped in Dubai and I expected an airport that was really special but was a little disappointed. The airport wasn’t much but the shops were full of stuff for the ultra-rich, an IPhone 6 with a black gold case on sale for $6666 and a 1917 bottle of Chateau Lafite for $7700, the highest priced items I saw was a magnum of wine for $190,000 and a kilo ingot of solid gold, I had to think long and hard about the gold.

We finally landed in Jakarta and had a night layover before we reached our final destination, Bali. Jakarta seemed like a lot of those developing cities who have outstripped their infrastructure so rush hour is an all-day event. When we went to our hotel at 10pm at night, it took us about 10 minutes, our trip back at 10am took almost an hour. The other thing I noticed in Jakarta is that poverty has the same look no matter where you are in the world, kids with no shoes digging in the dirt, as someone in Africa said to me one time, dirt, back, tit, where babies are rotated from the dirt to their mama’s back and then to their mama’s tit and back to dirt. It is so sad to realize how many children grow up this way.

When we arrived in Bali it is never a good sign when your bag arrives on the baggage carrousel open with clothes bulging out but that is exactly how Lou’s bag showed up. That means extra time to fill out a baggage claim and explain to the guy behind the desk he needs to fill out a form and that we are not going to carry our clothes by hand and leave him our bag absent a baggage claim.

We finally got to our destination, our villa in Bali and Ashlie had hit a home run. A beautiful little villa all close in town but secluded and beautifully landscaped with our own private pool, garden, a shower that could hold a basketball team and Ketut, our maid, cook, babysitter or anything else we wanted. You leave dirty clothes in the hamper and the next day they are returned cleaned, pressed and folded.

Our first morning started with our guide Dawah, our first stop a coffee plantation with a twist. Luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world, some restaurants charge $50 a cup. What makes this coffee so special? It is Ca-poo-chino at its best. They feed Cervit cats coffee beans and when it comes out the other end they collect the poo. It gets dried, sorted, dried and brewed, delicious Ca-poo-chino. It only costs $40 for 150 grams.

Then we headed up into the mountains and jumped on bikes. For the next 3 hours we biked downhill through the Balinese countryside. Through little villages, rice paddies and Hindu temples. An amazing up close look at the culture. Most of the houses had alters, called Panjor, out in front of their houses, 15 foot high bamboo poles with an arching decorations that hung over the road with an alter at the base. Each night the residents would put our offerings and incense to keep away evil spirits. As we rode through the villages the Panjor’s lined the roads making a beautiful line of arches. The Balinese countryside is beautiful, green as far as the eye could see.

Our second morning in Bali was Christmas morning. It’s always strange to celebrate Christmas in a tropical place but it is especially unique in a Muslim/Hindu dominated country. Christmas decorations are always a bit strange and out of place but there is nothing like spending Christmas with your two year old grandchild, your daughter and son-in-law who you have not seen for six months. Kids make Christmas special and this Christmas was super cool, missing many of the traditional trappings but complete with the heart and soul that makes the season special. The rest of the day was filled with food and relaxation. A wonderful and memorable Christmas.