We are just over half way through our stay on Bali and it feels as if we have been here for ages. We spent ten days in Ubud and are now in Candidasa, on the south east coast.
While we were in Ubud we stayed on Monkey Forest Street and, of course we went for a walk through the Monkey Forest. Its the setting for a Hindu Temple and there are over 300 monkeys, in four groups, in the place, all bickering with their rivals and trying to get food off the gullible visitors. All the worst aspects of human society without many of its saving graces.
We continued the walk through one of the nicer suburbs of Ubud and were struck by the way the Balinese erect statues at their front gates. Some look as if they are portraits or caricitures. I liked this one.
We went for a couple of drives around the Balinese countryside with Gunantra, the guy who took us to the village cremation, and one of the places we got to was a temple called Gunung Kawi. It is in a deep valley – most important temples are at the top of steep hills – so the hard work is climbing out rather than climbing up – but it is surrounded by some lovely rice terraces.
Climbing out of the valley one has to pass all the souvenir salespersons. Having to travel light means that we are immune to their blandishments, but they don’t know that. They can be very persistent, especially the farther you get from the tourist hot spots.
Some of the stalls can be interesting.
Others are macabre.
While in Ubud we were able to attend a second cremation – the Balinese seem to be obsessed with death – but this one was much grander than the one I mentioned in the previous post. This was for one of the local Kings – there are about six Kings in Bali – and Ubud ground to a halt for the procession from the Royal Palace to the Cremation Ground. There is a huge Bull in which the bones will be cremated and an eleven tier pagoda in which to transport the bones. Also a dragon to represent the Kings earthly achievements. All very large and all to be transported by muscle power.
There were huge preparations for all the funeral decorations, the power lines crossing the streets were taken down and various roads were closed. But no one thought to put up crush barriers so that people would not get onto the route, parking of cars and scooters was allowed on the access route. And the crowds were vast. And there were hundreds, if not thousands involved in carrying their unwieldy burdens.
Moving these artefacts was done in sudden rushes. The carriers (one of them was the man who looked after our room in our hotel) would make an almighty effort and lift the thing and then rush it as far as they could before the effort or the obstruction of the crowd forced them to drop it. We spectators were forced out of the way even when there was no place for us to go. Parents with small kids were particularly concerned – with good reason.
Despite the lack of safety, I don’t think there were any serious casualties. But that was luck and the good sense of the people looking out for each other. It took for ever to get away as all the access roads were constricted by the presence of triple parked cars and scooters blocking pavements.
After the excitement of the cremation we went to a Temple Dance. We got there early and were in the front row so got some decent photos. The best is below. If we had a better internet connection you would have many more to elicit your admiration!
A few days ago we moved to Candidasa which is on the coast and today we took advantage of some sunshine to hire a boat and do some snorkelling and swimming.
And then we went to a beach for some sunbathing.
We will be staying here for a few more days and will be posting again soon!