Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bali-Aug 2003

Bali Hai was a mystical, fictional island in the invented by James Mitchner's for his book "South Pacific" later made into a Broadway musical and film. It was much later in life that I learned that there was a real island called Bali. True, I didn't know exactly where it was, but based on the name, I assumed that it must be a pretty nice place to visit.

Then in October 2002, a terrorist bomb exploded in the town of Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, killing 202. Suddenly, I knew quite a bit about the location of Bali.

Nine months later, we came to Bali. The visit was part of a program organized and sponsored by Judith through a grant she received from the World Aids Foundation to hold workshops in four locations in Indonesian on the subject of Aids prevention among drug abusers.

The first workshop was held in Jakata and then we flew to Bali on Garuda Airlines into Denpsar airport. The town of Kuta is just a short distance away and we check into the Holiday Inn, where the workshop was held. In the lobby is the fine statue of the Garuda, Indonesia's coat of arms. The Garuda is the mythical golden eagle, common to both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Although Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, Bali is overwhelmingly Hindu. Many different social service organizations attended the workshop including several policemen and an important prison official. Towards the end of the workshop, workshop organizers were welcomed to visit a prison in Bali. When the Bali Bomber was caught, we was first imprisoned at this prison. The prison held both men and women although they were housed in separate quarters. Most inmates were there because they used drugs.
The workshop speakers provided information indicating drug abusers and society are best served for the abusers to get into treatment. The police saw the wisdom of the knowledge but explained that they are in a quandary as their job is to arrest abusers.

Editorial comment--So as police often do when put in this position, they look the other way except if the abuser is in the act of committing another crime. The politicians make drug laws in order to pander or appeal to the uneducated electorate rather than weather the storm of educating the electorate. So a mostly underground system develops where some addicts get to treatment and the politicians can still boast about their tough on crime approach. The public remains ignorant. Its the same the world over.
Then in prison there is no sex allowed so no condoms allowed. People still have unprotected sex and the first thing the men do when they get out of prison is have sex (unprotected of course). Guess how Aids gets spread?

After the workshop, we have time to do the tourists things. We visit the place in Kuta where the bombing took place and we saw this on the fence. At the Hotel, a traditional Balinese dance performance was given one night complete with a Balinese version of the Narobi trio, for those of you who may remember Ernie Kovacs. Lots of masks and a slow moving plot gets a little tedious after a while, but the women are so graceful.
Kuta Beach in the morning.
We took a tour stopping to see some rice fields.
We visited the monkey forest. These critters are aggressive.
We drove for quiet a while to finally arrive at Mount Batar, a volcano that is still occasionally active. The volcanic rock here has been analyzed to be 28,000 years old.
Finally, we watched the sunset at Jimbaran Beach where you eat on the sand sitting in plastic chairs. You pick your own live seafood and eat while the sun goes down.


vikkitikkitavi said...

Dad, come on, how can Mt. Batar be 28,000 years old, when the earth is only 6000 years old? Don't they have Bibles in the hotel rooms in Bali?

Dad E said...

Bali is Hindu.

While most of other religions have "well defined" boundaries, Hinduism is not like that. There is a lack of one named God, one holy book, one founder, one set of rules, which the adherers must follow. Hinduism does not have these kind of definitions.

Therefore, not restrained by these boundaries, it is logical that the rocks can be 28,000 years old.