Enchanted Island: Bali, Indonesia

August 3-15, 2006

 

 

 

Sound recordings -- Peliatan Masters at the Arung Rai Museum of Art, Ubud:

Gamelan and dance (6:54).

Instrumental piece (4:53).

 

 

 

 

Sound recording:

Kecak and fire trance at Pura Delam,Taman Kaja, Ubud (15:41).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound recording:

Women's gamelan orchestra at Ubud Palace (7:00).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lasting impression from Bali is the way the religion and traditional culture are deeply interwoven into every day life. You see a temple procession with offerings and marching gamelan going down the road with cars and motorbikes whizzing by. Everyone seems to be making offerings at all times of the day and night. Always the bittersweet smell of incense combined with smoke and exhaust. And temples, temples everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Offerings are everywhere. We wake to the smell of incense, and find an Intricately woven and stiched palm leaf tray, filled with flowers, a few grains of rice, and a burning stick of incense, gracefully arranged and placed at the entrance to our bungalow. We walk down the street and find little trays everywhere: along the broken sidewalk, on simple shrines, on car windshields, and at dangerous corners of the road. Every morning, afternoon and evening women and sometimes men, place these offerings to appease the good spirits (for a good life, bountiful rice harvest) and the demons (no motorbike accident, no fall through sidewalk, no earthquake...) The ibu (mother) weaves one hundred or more every day, which takes twenty minutes, according to my teacher at a "offerings making" class I took at the local museum, where I struggled to create ten in two hours. The pre-dawn market is filled with vendors selling bundles of palm leaves and bags of flowers, or pre-made offerings, for women too busy to make their own.

As we tiptoe down the sidewalks, avoiding broken hatches that teeter over a six foot drop to rushing water below, or walk in the roadway (around the crumbling sidewalk and broken hatches...) avoiding mobs of motorbikes driven by twenty year olds, each with a beautiful girl perched side-saddle on the back, or ride in taxsi's, horn beeping as we weave our way past motorbikes, chickens, more motorbikes with huge loads of plastic buckets or sacks of rice, and other pedestrians, we hope these offerings will keep everyone on the streets of Ubud safe, happy and prosperous..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

As western tourists walking around Ubud in the peak summer season of August, there is constant commotion whirling around us with the ever-helpful guides, drivers, and touts. Cars honk every few minutes and pull over in front of us, the driver waving the special taxi signal with thumbs pointing right and left. "Transport, you need transport? Taksi, taksi, taksi? Where you going? Mister, where you from? Where you stay? Where you go now? What your program tomorrow?" You pause for a moment of quiet reflection and private conversation, suddenly a small crowd has gathered around, everyone hell bent on convincing you what you should be doing and where you should be going. But it's all smiles and gentle persuasion. We say a few words in our pathetic Bahasa: "Tidak mau, terima kasi", no want, thank you! It's a game that is played out over and over again. The tourist season is short and there is a kind of mad rush to make the most of it...

We take a bicycle tour where we are driven way up the volcano slope for the 30k downhill ride back to town. Along the way we coast through many small villages, passing temple after temple. People are busy with their daily lives, working in the rice fields, women carrying enormous loads on their heads, men hanging out talking. The bike tour happens every day, so the local kids are expecting us. They run out from their houses and yell "hello, hello, hello", holding out their hands as we pass. They're waiting for a high five, and slap our hands with a loud crack as we glide by, laughing and joking -- big fun for all...

kite flying

 

 

 

 
Wooden outrigger fishing canoes on the dry northeast coast in Aas.
 
 
 
Darwin, Australia (plane) ► Denpasar, Bali Indonesia (taxi) ► Ubud (car) ► Isch (car) Tirta Gangga (car) ► Aas Beach