28 March 2012, Gail’s trip log

The Elephant Safari was fantastic! Right up there with the Bora Bora bell dive and the penguins in Antarctica as all time awesomeness. The day started out with a non-working toilet so we had to run up 2 flights to find one that worked. Minor annoyance. We had arrived in Bali! The tender ride to shore was quite a ways, but we got a good glimpse of the shore and boats in the harbor. Balinese musicians and dancing girls greeted us as we boarded our buses. One minor inconvenience all day was the fact that the Dawn Princess [a much larger ship] was also in port, so every place was crowded. The first surprise was how many motorbikes were everywhere. The first hour was very slow going through the pretty major traffic through the capital city, Denpesar. We even saw a McDonalds (they deliver!) and a KFC. Once we were out of the city we really saw the way the people live in a series of villages – we drove through lots of them – and the beautiful rice paddies. Our guide was a very personable and informative young Hindu who explained to us the large role religion plays in Bali life – there are shrines and temples and offerings and statues everywhere. Many of the statues are wrapped with a fabric sarong for respect. After about 1 ½ hour drive we stopped at Ubod – one of the 4 major handicraft villages – crowded market where you are expected to barter. We had an hour and we bought some batik cloth, some pillow covers, and Dan bought two shirts. After crazy crowds and confusion we were back on the bus and finally got to the Elephant Park around noon. First we had a fantastic buffet lunch overlooking the elephant bathing pool. Then we watched the elephant show and a couple of riders on large elephants trying to get a young elephant out of the pool – he wanted to stay in – just like a kid! It was funny. After standing in line about 45 minutes we finally got our turn – fantastic 35 minute ride on “Olla”, a female, through the rain forest – finishing up in the bathing pool. We of course bought the photos they took of us [and they took some with our cameras too]. Then we spent about 45 minutes getting more pictures of the elephants and wandering the fantastic grounds. It is a gorgeous and interesting place. Finally headed back to the ship, arriving at the port just before 500 – not as late as I thought we would be – but we were the very last tender and the ride back to the ship was pretty bumpy. We dumped our stuff, put on our suits and hit the pool. We watched the sail away and sunset sitting in the hot tub. Perfect end to a perfect day. Quick dinner and I am ready to crash! 3 sea days ahead.

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