Monday, September 20, 2010

Mara River Lodge and Magic Healing


Our organized driver arrived right on cue to collect us and take us to the Mara River Lodge (for the Bali safari park), complete with Safari car and dressed in safari suit & hat.
Emma and Gabe cuddle the baby white tiger

The children were incredibly excited, especially once he told them he had a baby tiger waiting for them to cuddle.

Amidst excited squeals, we began the usual pleasantries of where do you come from, what is your name, have you visited Bali before?

I answered in Indonesian and our driver raised his eyes “Oh, you speak Indonesian”, “where did you learn, how long did you live here, what did you do living in Bali”

We explained that I was interested in natural therapies and wrote articles about Bali, feeling our way through whether the topic was acceptable or not with this person.

In Bali – it’s not as simple as in the west, there remains a great degree of skepticism and a certain amount of fear of the unknown, the mysteries and faith healing / magic.

6 month old baby elephant
Seeing a genuine interest here, we discussed Balians – the local Faith healers of the village. Our driver seemed most surprised that we knew of such matters, he asked were we sure, I replied “yes, I study sekala dan niskala” (the seen and the unseen – world of energies).

Fish Therapy (to remove the dead skin by eating)
“Ohhhh, he replied, you really do understand!” As if testing us out, he asked “do you know of the Leyaks” (kind of similar to Shamans, however sometimes known as witches).
“yes, sure” we replied. The door of communication was open, he seemed delighted not only that we knew of such things, but that we actually had an interest in them.

Interestingly, the day prior we were walking through Ubud when the afternoon skies opened right on cue with heavy monsoon rains flooding down. Taking refuge in a nearby café, we had settled in with local newspapers.

More Fish therapy - Eww!
Reading through I was fascinated to discover an entire page devoted to the practice of visiting Balians for healing, the respect required to visit, financial renumerations required and where to locate them – wow – how different from when I lived here and it was all terribly secret and kept under wraps.

Our driver asked, “when you made the booking at the resort, did you book with a man?”
“yes, we had” ………. He leaned over and whispered “the man that took your booking is a Balian, I can organize you to meet him if you like”

“There’s another man at the resort who also is a Balian” Fascinating, I always love the serendipity of the universe opening doors when required.

Filled with further conversations, we were advised that it was very strange for a vacancy to open up (we had called the day before) as the lodge was usually booked out 1 year in advance.

It was not long before we arrived at the safari park. As we entered, we drove through the large gates, reminiscent of entering Jurassic park.

Our Lodge at Mara River Resort
The kids squealed with delight as we were driven past grazing elephants, weird looking pigs with huge horns and other peculiar creatures.

Checking into Mara River resort, they greeted us with “Welcome to Africa” (too funny, considering we were in Bali, however we loved it)

Our driver had pre warned the children, once they arrived that they must be incredibly quiet and not move too quickly as there would be a lion in the lobby, subdued into a mix of excitement and fear, they carefully entered the lobby to be greeted by a full sized (and rather moth eaten) stuffed lion with yellowish, glassy eyeballs. He rolled about with laughter looking at our bewildered kids.

We began checking in, singing papers, filling out forms, the kids wandered off bored asking if they may use the toilet, immediately – they were back squealing something about a lion being in the toilets and amidst “QUICK mummy  - you MUST come and see him”, excusing myself I was dragged running into the toilets – sure another stuffed beast was awaiting I was most surprised to see an enormous and very real and alive full size lion laying just behind a plate glass window in the toilets.

Kids Room at Mara
He was huge and right on cue, let out an ear piercing roar, followed by a huge yawn.

Driven by golf buggy to our lodge, we weren’t expecting too much as we entered.
Isn’t it lovely when you don’t expect too much and are so pleasantly surprised, we entered a 2 bedroom lodge decorated fabulously with hand made walls, African artifacts, wood slatted bathroom recesses, large canopied 4 poster beds and a balcony looking out on to a savannah.

There was a bucket filled with carrots labeled “animal food”, great little organic toiletries, tea and coffee, beautiful vase of tuberoses (my favourite) & a basket of tropical fruits.

What a day, we toured the ‘continents’ through animal species, we watched piranhas devour an entire chicken in a matter of minutes and took a swim in the pool surrounded by zebras and rhinos. We gave thanks for this beautiful location and felt especially blessed to be able to share this lovely space.

Canopied Bed at Mara
If you get a chance to stay it is quite special. Everything is at 5 star prices of course, as is to be expected in isolated resorts, bring some supplies with you. However, if on a budget, they do have cup of noodles in the room at bar prices of 10,000rp (1000 in the stores prior), Still although there is a huge price difference, it is still only around US$1 at the more expensive prices.

When we originally lived in Bali there was 1200-1500 +AUD$1, now at 8000=$1 – it was still taking some getting used to, Daryll had to keep reminding me I was haggling over 20c

We bought the kids some hot chocolate and condensed milk sachets – don’t knock it ‘til you try it – they are great! For 110rp each, after some mathematics study, we worked out, they had cost around 0.013c each. For home school studies, we began to work out all manner of prices, with some awakening and boggling results.

Wedding room with umbrellas,fishnets and seashells
The game keepers promised the children they could have another animal encounter before dinner if they came to the lobby, they said the animal was a ‘surprise’ sometimes, the baby elephant, other times, the baby cub or baby orang utan, they said to wait and see.

Eagerly dressing, the kids raced to the lobby for their encounter.
Calling out about what exotic animal awaited them, they were met with an …………………… Australian cockatoo, yep, just the same as the 100’s on our balcony every day – haha! Never mind!

The kids looked on the bright side and said “well, the ones at home won’t let us hold them, so at least we can pat this one”

Us dining watching the lions dining
Entering the restaurant, we were seated right at the large glass windows, the meals were lovely, the kids felt very special to have mocktails made for them and devoured the home made gnocci with cream sauce.
Emma asked the waitress if the lions outside were actually dead as the hadn’t moved all day, she laughed and said “no, they sleep 20hrs per day”

Tsavo Lion Restaurant
Turning back to dinner a few moments later a shower of meat suddenly appeared from the outside roof, well that certainly sparked some interest, the lions immediately leapt up, had some meat, wandered over to the window and peered at the kids meals, turned around and mated on the grass and then rolled over heads reclining and legs pointing up to the skies and fell asleep again. The kids thought it was hilarious.

Day done, we met to chat regarding the Balian and see what tomorrow brings………………

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