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Indonesia

A Thanksgiving in paradise

A Balinese Thanksgiving feast

A Balinese Thanksgiving feast

We are now in Benoa, a little place in the south of Bali. On our first day we had our first true taste of the rainy season when a thunderstorm thwarted our morning beach plans. Thankfully, it ended in time for us to get in a few hours of kayaking at a nearby beach.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving day back home. While families busily baked their pumpkin pies and basted the turkey, we went to Kuta so David could surf and I could bodyboard. We’ve been purposefully avoiding Kuta because it’s the most touristy town in Bali, but it’s a good spot for water sport rentals so we were forced to check it out.

When we returned to Benoa later in the day, it was time to commence feasting. Since we’re not home for a “proper” Thanksgiving, we decided to have our own feast right here in Bali at an award-winning Indonesian restaurant called Bumbu Bali, which is owned by a chef who has written several cookbooks about Balinese cuisine. We ordered a traditional Balinese Rijstaffel, which is a term that dates back to Bali’s Dutch colonial period in the early 1900s. The word literally means “rice table,” which is a reference to the prominence of rice as a central part of the meal, surrounded by a number of Indonesian “small bites.” This is a representation of how Indonesians eat: rice or noodles is a central part of the meal and everything else is a side. It contradicts the theory that to control weight gain, you should eat fewer carbs and more protein and vegetables—here is a culture with a diet that focuses on carbs, yet I see very little obesity unless it’s from the tourists.

The monkey-filled temple of Ulu Watu--courtesy of  BayBali.com (it was raining and our photos didn't come out as well)

The monkey-filled temple of Ulu Watu–courtesy of BayBali.com (it was raining and our photos didn’t come out as well)

Anyhow, we feasted on a divine green papaya and seafood soup in a coconut milk broth, grilled seafood satay with peanut sauce, fish wrapped in banana leaf, and much more. The meal was accompanied by a traditional sambal, which is a hot and spicy sauce that is mixed with just about any savory dish. For dessert were a number of local sweets—all rice-based, of course. One was a rice dumpling covered in coconut that should have come with a warning because when I attempted to cut it, it squirted caramel sauce all over my dress. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of rice-based desserts (and even less so when their surprise contents end up on the front of my dress), but it was a truly amazing meal nonetheless.

This brings us to today—the day after Thanksgiving. While many people back home are rushing to purchase their Black Friday deals and trampling over each other to save a few dollars, we were visiting Ulu Watu, a temple perched upon a cliff overlooking the ocean. There’s something to be said of avoiding the holiday melee on occasion. The rain has returned, so we’ll see what sort of impact that makes on our plans. Might be a good time for a massage.

Since it is customary to give thanks this time of year, I will end by saying that I am truly thankful that I am here to experience this beautiful culture. David says he’s thankful that mangoes are in season here. đŸ™‚

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About colleen finn

Colleen Finn is a globe trotting, sight seeing, day tripping, frequent flying traveler with a penchant for voluntourism.

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