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    Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 23

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    The gamelan for the Ubud royal family prepares for a short procession at Pura Marajan Agung in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Women prepare for a short procession at Pura Marajan Agung in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The throngs prepare for a short procession at Pura Marajan Agung in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    I went back to Taman Curry for the first time since I partially damaged their ceiling fan. They had installed a new handle / switch on the bottom of the cord, so I assume it’s back in working order. I checked to see if anything was going on up at Pura Taman Kaja, but the temple ceremony seemed pretty mellow, as I sat across the lane for a spell and watched neighborhood ladies file in once in a while with a kid or two in tow. Since a procession didn’t seem eminent, I made my way down to Ubud Palace, where I bought a ticket from Nur Astika for tonight’s show. A little bit later, after I shot a few photos of the latest royal cremation decorations, which included a giant bull, I said goodbye to her to go eat at Cafe Eclipse a few hundred yards North.

    The dragon rests after descending the steep stairs during a short procession at Pura Marajan Agung in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    An overflowing audience at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    As I made my way up there, I began to notice more and more Balinese people standing around in their finery, then I spied a gamelan orchestra in their Sunday best at the foot of Pura Maraja Agung, the private temple of Ubud’s royal family. Within a few minutes, they stood up with their gongs and launched into a deep, regal melody as the huge, colorful congregation inside the temple began to spill out onto the street. The highlight arrived when a huge dragon barely managed to squeeze through the door of the temple gate and nearly toppled over a few times as it lumbered uneasily down the huge, steep stairs, stopping to rest for a while when it reached the street.

    The Sekehe Gong Panca Artha gamelan at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Legong dance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    As a bunch of tourists and Balinese people massed around, the dragon lurched back to life and lumbered down the street amid a phalanx of photographers and gawkers. I thought it would proceed left or right down Jalon Raya Ubud, but it hung a sharp left inside Ubud Palace for a temple ceremony. That was my cue to go for another one of those succulent high-rise falafel sandwiches at Cafe Eclipse. As I sat down, the whole area in front of Pura Maraja Agung was completely deserted. Various tourists passed by and shot photos of each other in front of it, completely oblivious of the grand spectacle that had just occurred. After I finished chomping on the big, beautiful, messy sandwich, I headed up to the pavilion across the street from Ubud Palace, where tonight’s show was to be performed by Sekehe Gong Panca Artha, one of my favorite Ubud troupes.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Barong dance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Sunda Upasunda dance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    I arrived about 75 minutes before showtime and there was already a lurker or two ready to grab the plastic chairs as soon as they were set out. I sat down on the floor in the pole position to make sure I would get one, but I still barely won out against a couple of Japanese ladies–the usual suspects. I thought I was going to have to mud wrestle them for it. As time wore on, a crazy amount of tourists filed into the place–so many, in fact, that they started setting up plastic chairs for more of them on the side of the stage. This was definitely the biggest audience I’ve ever seen at a gamelan / dance show.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Sunda Upasunda dance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Sunda Upasunda dance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    The program consisted of Legong, which is performed by three young girls who employ subtle hand and facial expressions and body movements to tell the tale of a tragic love triangle. Accompanied by the ever-present gamelan ringing away, this dance is very lively and jerky yet graceful at the same time. Next up came a character study of the Barong, a powerful and benevolent creature (performed by two people in one costume.) “He is the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good, and enemy of Rangda in the mythological traditions of Bali.”–Wikipedia. The ender arrived in the form of Sunda Upasunda, which is taken from a Hindu epic called the Mahabharata. This is the story of two brothers, Sunda and Upasunda, who are merely on a quest to conquer heaven and rule the known universe.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha performs the Sunda Upasunda dance at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Sekehe Gong Panca Artha at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

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

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