Sunday, October 2, 2016

Visiting Bali—Romantic Tropical Asia

temple, Ubud,Bali

All the shrines were decorated.

Galungan decorations, Ubud, Bali

All the streets were decorated.

In Bali, the first week in September brought the Galangan Festival when the ancestral spirits, good and bad, return to earth. Distinctly Balinese decorations welcomed the kind ones, incense and protective statues discouraged the malevolent ones.

statue, Bali

Bali is colorful any time: big green plants such as banana, bright flowers like heliconias and spectacular sprays of orchids, painted and decorated buildings.


Heliconia, Ubud, Bali
orchid, Bali
decorated pillar,Bali

Visitors intent on the beach or pool can stay cool. In the shade with a breeze, the temperature was always nice. Walking through gardens, as we did, we were unpleasantly hot and sweaty much of the time. Since it was the result of the humidity and the air temperature, there was nothing to do about it, we just persevered.

It was worth being overheated: the plants and gardens were lovely. The Temperate Zone gardener dreams of abundant water and sun to produce sprays of delicate orchids in browns and reds...of planting heliconias to see a three foot inflorescence with flowers that open for months...of pots on the veranda with nearly three-foot crown-of-thorns plants or intensely purple bougainvilleas (post on Bougainvillea).


Euphorbia, Bali
crown-of-thorns (or at least a very similar Euphorbia species)

Bougainvillea, Bali
Bougainvillea and Balinese butterfly
You could garden in a variety of styles of course. That was the point of the tour, a garden tour of Bali and Singapore. I've been exploring taking "garden tours"and have found them to be great! This one was organized by Sterling Tours for the Pacific Horticultural Society and we had a grand time.

This tour began with tragedy, however. The dynamic designer of Balinese gardens who was to have met with us on the tour, Made Wijaya (about him), died unexpectedly in the week before the tour. His spirit was with us throughout the tour, in many ways.

garden, Bali

As gardeners from dry places, we were envious of the complaints of the gardeners we met. “Things grow so fast you are always chopping plants out.” “If you ignore a particular treasure for a few weeks when you look, it has been crowded out.” "You have to manage the water features very carefully so they don't overflow." That’s what high rainfall and warm temperatures get you: abundant lush plants and ornamental ponds.

garden, Bali

Beyond the towns, Bali was agricultural, raising rice. Their seasons are wet and wetter, so the rice is grown continuously, with crops at different stages simultaneously.

rice paddies, Bali

It's an island: there are coasts--many with fine beaches--all around.

beach, Sanur,Bali
Sanur, Bali
Across the northern edge of the island, before the morning clouds gathered, you could see the volcanoes. They are active (deadly eruption 1963 link). Mount Ranjani, on Lombok Island  immediately east of Bali, frequently disrupts air travel in the area (Sept. 28, 20162016 2015). Bali resembled paradise but the volcanoes were a visible reminder not to get too complacent.

mountains, Bali

Bali was gorgeous!

Comments and corrections welcome.

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist

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