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    Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 2

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    The family compound next door to Suartha Pension in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A small island measuring just 69 x 95 miles nestled between Java and Lombok in the vast archipelago of Indonesia, Bali is covered with lush jungles, rice terraces, mountains and beautiful beaches, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Some come for the sun, sand, surf, and world class resorts and spas, while others enjoy the predominantly Hindu culture that is celebrated daily with highly evolved dance, gamelan music, art and architecture. I first became interested in Bali back in the mid-1990s. I was collecting a lot of vintage electronic music on vinyl, some of which was released on a label called Nonesuch, who also curated a series of albums featuring gamelan, the traditional percussion music of Indonesia. I was so enamored by the exotic, haunting sounds that emanated from those black grooves that I just knew I had to hear it in real life someday.

    My room at the Suartha Pension in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Lunch at Warung Dayu in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The girls who run Warung Dayu in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    After chompin’ on the free egg sandwich and fruit breakfast at my room, I took a walk around town to look for a money changer and take a few snaps. For lunch, I headed down Monkey Forest Road to the Warung Dayu. I was happy and kind of surprised that the girls who run the place remembered me from my last trip, as I only went in there two or three times. I ordered a delicious dish with tofu, veggies and rice. Then I strolled on by the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and made my way back North on Jalon Hanoman to shoot photos and video of the beautiful and weathered intricate carvings on temples and family compound gates. I was just in time to capture the very pleasing and gorgeous light of sunset. One of many reasons I come to Bali is to soak in the incredible ambiance this place exudes. Photos and videos don’t do it justice.

    A typical hazardous black hole in the sidewalk in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A Balinese family compound gate on Jalon Hanoman in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A gamelan on Hanoman in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Next, I stopped by a small shop and bought a sarong, which is a traditional Indonesian garment worn by both males and females that covers the legs from the waist to the ankles. Since the shop owner said business has been slow–sometimes days can go by without a single sale–I didn’t bargain down much and gave him $8.00 for a printed one. Apparently, the handmade batik sarongs go for several times that price. As evening emerged, I shlepped up to Pura Batukaru Ubud, an amazing temple complex a half mile North of Ubud Palace, to catch a show. Tonight’s performance by Ubud Tengah Community was Women’s Kecak, which they claim is the only one anywhere in Bali, or the whole world, for that matter. (What if there’s a secret one nobody knows about in Mongolia, or Alabama? Huh?) Presenting a part of the Ramayana Epic, the performance was propelled by 50 or so women wo chanted and sang with no instrumental accompaniment at all, as they walked, sat, swayed and raised their arms in the air in time to the strange vocalizations.

    Another super fancy family compound gate on Jalon Hanoman in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A motorcycle ramp on Jalon Hanoman in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A gorgeous temple at sunset on Jalon Hanoman in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Later, other characters from the tale appeared–including Rama, Sita, Rahwana, Hanoman and Sugriwa–and engaged in a series of dramatic tales. Next up came Sanghyang Jaran, a fire dance in which a priest put into a trance state the performer, who then mounted his hobby horse and walked on and kicked around a pile of burning coconut husks. The function of this dance is to protect Bali from epidemics and evil forces. I finished out the night with dinner at the Shisha Lounge, where a live band was playing. My only comment about that is amplified acoustic guitars with nylon strings sound like crap. I ordered gado gado, which consists of tofu, veggies and rice smothered with a tasty peanut sauce.

    The Ubud Tengah Community performs the Women's Kecak dance at Pura Batukaru Ubud in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The Ubud Tengah Community performs the Women's Kecak dance at Pura Batukaru Ubud in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The Ubud Tengah Community performs the Fire dance at Pura Batukaru Ubud in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

    One response to “Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 2”

    1. Zach Ogren says:

      Damn, nice photos in this, especially the last one. We need Sanghyang Jaran in the US with all these epidemics coming along n such. Heheh nah. This is good stuff though, would be cool to get some videos of all the beautiful nature there.

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