We rousted ourselves from the villa’s seductive calm to sightsee. There’s much to do in Bali. We made a compressed round of the handicraft villages around Ubud, learned about Balinese architecture, and never tired of hearing a gamelan orchestra play. The first temple we visited was Gunung Kawi, which dates back to the 11th century. We can now describe the differences between barong, legong, and kecak dancing.
When Akemi heard there was whitewater rafting, she added it with gold stars on our to-do list. She is a rafting enthusiastic, a veteran of Class IV rapids. I, however, have previously declined past rafting opportunities – the danger of being bounced out into currents and onto boulders has not appealed to me. With assurances that these were Class II and III rapids, at best (“Mom, think ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ meets ‘Grizzly River Run’”), I resolved to be a sport.
I needn’t have worried. Our fellow rafters were a Korean family with two cute young boys. As it turned out, I out-paddled not only Korean mommy, but also Korean daddy. The boys started out terrified, but our guide had them laughing by the end, purposefully propelling us through waterfalls and spinning us around. Because they didn’t speak any English, they missed all the guide’s wisecracks about the “ancient” carvings made a few years ago by the local hotel and his shouts of “Crocodile!” as he smacked the water with his paddle every now and then. When he winked at me, I thought, to continue the Disneyland references, that this was pure “Jungle Cruise.”
For all the light-heartedness, though, it was an amazing opportunity to see the beauty of the jungle forest from the river. I was really glad we did that, and we returned to the villa surprisingly exhilarated.