January 29, 2007
I think it’s safe to say that I needed a shower by the time I arrived at the Bali Ngurah Rai airport in southern Indonesia. The group, captained by anthropology professors Phyllis Passariello and Gareth Barkin, traveled for nearly forty hours before reaching the island of Bali.
In the past, I had viewed this honeymooners’ paradise as its own country. However, I was patently wrong. For your own personal edification, Bali is a predominantly Buddhist-Hindu section of Indonesia with a population of nearly three million individuals. Surprisingly, over the course of the trip, about one million of those residents tried to sell me a wooden motorcycle for 10,000 rupiah, the equivalent of an American dollar. Not surprisingly, my friend Willie Dorman purchased one on the first day (for five dollars).
After leaving the tourist-covered coast of Bali, we headed for the heart of the island, in a city named Ubud. It was interesting to see western influence deteriorate as we directed our adventure towards the hills, rather than the beaches. Conveniently, we left the shopping malls, KFC’s, and surfing to the tourists, while in the next few days we would experience what remained of the ‘True’ Bali. After arriving at the luxury Sahadewa resort, our group embarked
on five days of nonstop cultural experiences. We learned Balinese dance, visited sacred temples, and viewed, firsthand, the intricacies of Balinese crafts.
However, throughout these experiences, one instance in Bali stood out for three of my friends and me. At 3 A.M. on day four, Wes Crowdis, Bob Lear, Alex Gash, and I set out to conquer Mt. Batur, a nearby active volcano.