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    Dancers of Ubud

    May 16th, 2012

    Dancers of Ubud

    In May and June 2010, I visited the island of Bali in Indonesia for 17 days, mostly the cultural center of Ubud, where I went to amazing art museums, galleries, shops and restaurants by day, and attended performances every night featuring gamelan music and dances such as the Baris, Barong, Fire, Jauk, Kecak, Legong, Mekepung, Tari Belibis, Taruna Jaya and Oleg Tambulilingan. Balinese dancers are among the most beautiful ever, with their delicately painted faces, intricately patterned costumes and mesmerizing movements. Now cue up some Balinese gamelan music and enjoy the Dancers of Ubud slide show over on Flickr! (For the best results, click the full screen icon in the bottom right corner on the Flickr slide show.)


    Tropical Punch Tour: Java Video

    August 1st, 2011

    Spanning roughly 150 x 600 miles, Java is one long stringbean of a volcano-spined tropical island. Boasting the highest population of Indonesia, many of whom are Muslim, its largest cities–Jakarta on the West side and Surabaya on the East–are sprawling, polluted, centers of raw, urban chaos. Yogyakarta and Solo in Central Java rival each other as centers of culture, with regular dance and gamelan music performances and tons of other traditional artistic output in the form of carvings, sculpture, painting, and much more. Endless beaches, jungles and mountains also attract their fair share of foreigners.

    Tropical Punch Tour: Java Video aims the spotlight on musical and cultural life in and around Yogyakarta. The shenanigans begin with a quick glance at raw street musicians on the main drag in town, Jalon Malioboro. Next up, a few Wayang Kulit shadow puppets float into view, followed by a sprightly gamelan orchestra and Wayang Kulit shadow puppet play at the Sono Budoyo Museum. Next morning, we peel ourselves out of bed for an early morning visit to Borobudur, a giant Buddhist temple that’s bigger than a city block and taller than Godzilla. It was built back in the ninth century, when Buddhism reigned as Java’s primary religion. A violent Wayang Golek wooden puppet play with another chiming gamelan orchestra goes down at the Sultan’s Palace, followed by the super-colorful Ramayana Ballet at Purawisata. The video closes with a visit to the serene Taman Sari water palace, and musical instruments under fiery construction at a gamelan foundry in Bentuyang.

    For tons of photos and a detailed travel journal, visit the Tropical Punch Tour page.


    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 3

    July 15th, 2011

    A small, tropical 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, music, art and architecture.

    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 3 presents a cornucopia of hyper-colorful music, dance and ritual at four different locations in and around Ubud. First up is a skull-rattling performance of the reverberant jegog bamboo gamelan by Suara Sakti up in Bentuyung village, just North of Ubud. The Tary Panyembrana, Tari Gopola and Tari Belibus dances are presented, among others. Then we head over to Puri Agung Peliatan Palace for the Pendet, Baris and Legong Lasem dances. Next comes a chance encounter with an amazing but exhausting all-night performance of the Calon Arang story at Pura Dalem Puri, also in Peliatan. Calon Arang is a witch who practices black magic and, during a family drama, brings death and destruction to everything in her path. The tale is told through the Barong, Telek, Jauk, Kris, Sisya and Galuh dances, highlighted by a mass murder sequence (performed as a trance ritual in real life). Read the complete story. The video comes to a close over at Bale Banjar Ubud Kelod with an all-female outfit called Luh Luwih, who present lovely versions of the Gabor, Topeng Tua, Cendrawasih, Oleg Tambulilingan, Taruna Jaya and Baris dances. Thanks to captainputs for the black magic sequence.

    For tons of photos and a detailed travel journal, visit the Tropical Punch Tour page.


    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 2

    March 17th, 2011

    A small, tropical 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, music, art and architecture.

    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 2 presents an all-dance and gamelan extravaganza courtesy of the well-oiled machine that is Ubud’s regularly scheduled tourist shows. Opening the program, the lightning fast and loud gamelan, Semarandhana, stirs up an aural Earthquake inside the Agung Rai Museum of Art, as the Seke Werdha Arma (The Peliatan Masters) troupe displays the adorable Pendet and Legong Lasem dances. Next, the Sadha Budaya troupe presents the lovely Gabor and Legong Kraton dances at Ubud Palace. For the finale, we return to Ubud Palace as the Bina Ramaja troupe enacts a violent Legong Jobog dance, then stages a super-dramatic chapter from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana Ballet.

    For tons of photos and a detailed travel journal, visit the Tropical Punch Tour page.


    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 1

    March 7th, 2011

    A small, tropical 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, music, art and architecture.

    Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Video 1 presents a few tidbits of thoroughly entrancing gamelan and dance performances in the island’s cultural center, Ubud. The proceedings begin with a somber post-temple ceremony procession out of Pura Marajan Agung, the temple of Ubud’s royal family. Next comes several glimpses of the Sekehe Gong Panca Artha troupe at Ubud Palace, performing the exquisite Legong Lasem, Barong, Sunda Upasunda and Legong Trance dances. A short excerpt of a raucous shadow puppet play by Wayang Kulit Kertha arrives next, followed by a brief glance of musical instruments under construction at the Pande Made Gableran gamelan foundry in Blahbatuh. A bit of spirited gamelan practice in Peliatan and a visit to the lush and scenic Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud round out this eye-popping journey through the center of the Island of the Gods.

    For tons of photos and a detailed travel journal, visit the Tropical Punch Tour page.


    Tropical Punch Tour: Java Part 11

    June 21st, 2010

    Monday, June 21, 2010
    Solo, Java, Indonesia

    My nice, clean $5.00 room at Warung Baru in Solo, Java.

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    Tropical Punch Tour: Java Part 10

    June 20th, 2010

    Sunday, June 20, 2010
    Solo, Java, Indonesia

    Some carved wood figures in the Kraton Museum in Solo, Java.

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    Tropical Punch Tour: Java Part 9

    June 19th, 2010

    Saturday, June 19, 2010
    Solo, Java, Indonesia

    Traditional sarong weaving in Solo, Java.

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    Tropical Punch Tour: Java Part 8

    June 18th, 2010

    Friday, June 18, 2010
    Solo, Java, Indonesia

    On the train from Yogyakarta to Solo, Java.

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    Tropical Punch Tour: Java Part 7

    June 17th, 2010

    Thursday, June 17, 2010
    Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

    Bootleg eS jacket in Yogyakarta, Java.

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