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    Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 10

    Thursday, July 12, 2012
    Bangli, Bali, Indonesia

    Elena, Nyoman and Katia at Suartha Pension in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Praying at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    Grabbing some offerings at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    Last night, when I plugged in my laptop, the power charging light didn’t come on. After a few minutes of trying to figure out why, I discovered that I had left my voltage converter / outlet adaptor plugged into the wall all day with no appliance plugged into it, and when I grabbed the thing to pull it out of the wall, it was piping hot. Seems it had overheated, and was now completely burned out and rendered a useless brick. So, I walked around for a while in the hot sun looking for a shop that sells new ones, with no luck. Then Suartha, the father of the family compound where I’m staying, rode me around on his motorcycle to a couple of appliance shops, but I still came up empty handed. I was told that I’d have to travel to Denpasar to find one. It seems absurd to me that shops in Ubud offer everything under the Sun for sale to tourists–except anything practical. I checked a couple of other small phone shops, then decided to get an early start tomorrow and try again in Denpasar.

    Barong, Rangda et all at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    Gamelan at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    Back at the family compound (eye), I had a chat with the tourists in the next room, Elena–a doctor from Moscow, Russia who is now a teacher of the Russian language in a small town in France near Geneva, Switzerland–and her daughter Katia. They asked for my advice about tours around Bali and also mentioned that their driver Nyoman invited them to a temple ceremony in his home village, Bangli, about 15 miles further up in the foothills of the mountains. Later that evening, after we changed into our sarongs, we all piled into a van and proceeded through the pouring rain up the narrow, winding roads through village after village. We made a quick stop at Nyoman’s house to pick up a couple of his family members, then he wrapped a traditional Balinese udeng around my head and an additional sarong over the one I was already wearing.

    Gamelan at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    A priest sings Hindu scripts at a temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    Then we drove up the hill a ways further to the temple, which was set back from the road a few hundred yards in the jungle. As we walked into the temple around 8:00 pm, the ceremony was already underway. The sky incessantly drizzled while everyone sat on small, roof-covered pavilions and waited for their tun to pray in a small group at the central altar. We were allowed to sit there straight away and were, at various moments, handed small bits of flowers and floral decorations to place between our fingertips as we pressed our palms together in front of our foreheads. Then, as we moved for another group to pray, I walked around among all of the pagodas and pavilions, shooting photos and videos. This felt kind of awkward for two reasons: it was very difficult and challenging to juggle an umbrella, big messenger bag and my camera; and the fact that I was an outsider snapping away at someone else’s religious event.

    Devotees at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    A priest conducts an offering ritual at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    The constant precipitation may have put a damper on the night, but it could never ruin the incredible atmosphere: a priest sang words from big books full of Hindu religious scripts as another 30 feet away rang a little bell and engaged in an elaborate blessing ceremony. (There was a heavy India influence on the look and feel of these activities.) Multiple offerings wafted plumes of smoke into the night, as mini-processions of devotees made their rounds at all of the pagodas; and large Barong and Rangda mask / costume ensembles hung around, waiting for a later showtime. At around 10:00 pm, said show–a version of Calon Arang–finally got underway on the main pavilion as a small gamelan ensemble started clinking and clanking and the first performer emerged from behind a small curtain. She was a very animated woman–very tall for a Balinese–who danced a bit, sang and launched into a stand up comedy rotuine with a delivery full of Latin American-like flair.

    A Calon Arang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    Gamelan at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    Then another similarly dressed character came out–but this one was a man dressed as a woman–and the two goofed on each other, much to the amusement of the audience. I wasn’t a bit surprised when, a bit later, they tried to get me to come up onstage to be the butt of a few jokes, but I said; “No way!” and pointed at Katia, who reluctantly climbed up there. After poking a little fun at her, the duo got her to join them in a little Balinese dance as the audience laughed. A little while later, at around 11:00 pm, we had to leave, as it was an hour’s drive back to Ubud, and Elena and Katia wanted to get to sleep, because they had to wake up early to go on an all-day shuttle bus tour. If it hadn’t been raining and the whole place was not a mud pit, I would have been happy to stay until the end of the performance at 2:00 or 3:00 am. Who knows what kind of amazing, strange spectacles we missed?

    Katia takes part in the comedy section of a Calon Arang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

    A Calon Arang performance at a Hindu temple ceremony in Bangli, Bali, Indonesia.

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

    One response to “Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 10”

    1. Jim Davis says:

      I love the photgraph of Elena, her daughter Katia, and the driver with the carvings in the background. You caught their expressions perfectly.
      Also, the colors of the costumes and fabrics int the performances are vibrant, very unusual, and interesting.

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