Bali Performances, People, Pools, Birds, a Beach, and Goodby

Barry and I got to ride to the Kecak performance with Made

Performances in Bali can be quite different from those in other places.  One we saw was a Kecak, a unique Balinese dance because it is not accompanied by a gamelan orchestra but by about 100 chanting men.  Made (“Mah de”), the owner of Vera Accommodation where we stay is one of the chanters.

Johnny came with Ayu, Made’s wife, and daughter

The main performance presents the story of Rama, Sita, and the Golden Deer from the Indian epic Ramayana. The story involves Prince Rama’s exile, a demon king who lusts after Rama’s beautiful wife Sita and turns himself into a golden deer in order to kidnap Sita.  Of course, Rama must rescue Sita.  The chanting men tell the story.

What did we see?

The stage is lit by candles–photo by JK

The theater pulsates from the chants

The performers act out the story

The Demon King

Happily, Prince Rama wins the battle and is able to take Sita home again.

Next come the trance dances

The “Sanghyang” trance dances are performed to “drive evil spirits away and stop them infesting the community in the form of sickness or death.”  In the first such dance, two girls, considered angels,  are put into a trance.

Swaying girls in a trance

Collapsed girls

The girls are brought out of the trance by  the “pemangku” who prays in front of the girls and blesses them with holy water

The second “Sanghyang” was more dramatic since it involves walking on fire.   A young man who is in a trance dances. Behaving like a horse, he circles a huge bonfire made of coconut husks.   Sitting in the front row, we kept backing away from the sizzling coals.

The fire got even bigger – photo by JK

The young man and his “horse”–photo by JK

The chanting got more intense and the fire got bigger as the horse rider circled the flames

A fire marshal would not approve

The fire was reallllly hot and the guy was walking on it!

Do not try this at home!

The end of the trance dances: the light circles look like orbs

When it was over, the horseman sat in a daze

All the performers volunteer as service for their community temple.

Religious events happen often.  While I was there, a cremation ceremony was held for three influential Balinese  who had died.

Each “bull” contains a body that will be cremated; the ashes are then taken to the sea

A daytime religious procession

Religious ceremonies are held during the day and at night

So who did we meet?

Friendly Gusti, his son, and nephew at Vera Accommodation

Gusti with us

At Vera’s, Made and Ayu’s little girl and her dyed chick

Ari and Jerry a week before they had their healthy baby boy 🙂

Barry, Penny, and I on a rice paddy walk–toward lunch!– photo by Renato

Barry and a rice field –  photo by Renato

Renato, Barry, and I at Sari Organic Restaurant– photo by Penny 

A Sari Organic dish–nasi campur–photo by Renato

We met Penny and Renato at Nick’s pool.  She is from Australia; he originally from Italy, but they met in Switzerland, married and lived for many years in Sydney and then Darwin, and now more recently in India as Sai Baba devotees.    We became  walking and eating partners in Ubud.

Another interesting couple we met at Nick’s pool was Louise, French Canadian, and Salem, originally from Pakistan.

On Louise and Salem’s last night in Ubud, we ate at Kafe, another great spot–photo by Renato

With Penny at the entrance to Clear, one of our favorite restaurants–photo by Renato

In Clear where the setting is beautiful, the lighting great, and the food outstanding. My favorite choices are wasabi mashed potatoes and coconut crusted tofu, but there are many more choces.

In a padang, you can get a selection of fried food and rice for about a $1

Random shots:

What we saw from our deck

What Johnny saw – photo by JK

Hand-painted batik sheets

What about birds?

A kingfisher

This bird was often in the Vera’s pond eating its breakfast as we ate ours

Ducks are everywhere

What about Bali pools and the beach?

Rama getting bubble blowing lessons from Johnny at Nick’s pool

No longer are pools just for swimming and lounging with a book.  Almost everyone now brings a laptop (we’re included).  Some people never get wet in Nick’s beautiful pool.

What is this couple doing?

Each is on an iPad!

What are people reading at the pool?

“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

We are so spoiled by Maui and its beaches, we went to a Bali beach only one afternoon.  This one is at Sanur; the day was cloudy and the tide out, but we enjoyed our walk along the waterfront.

Sanur Beach

A hotel pool facing the beach

Colorful boats on the beach

There’s another book. What is it?  “Eat, Pray, Love” –in German

Besides Westerners and Balinese, Chinese come to vacation here too

Beach grill

It seems as though Johnny has already set up shop here

Rama got the ball he wanted

People in the water

Lazy afternoon

Volleyball anyone?

Corn vendor

On my last night in Bali before I returned to China to start the spring term at ZAFU, we went to Clear.

Dinner at Clear with Dewa, Ayu, and Rama

It’s 6am at the Denpasar Airport. I’m smiling, but I’m not happy.   It was hard to leave my boys. 

I had a glorious–and warm–five weeks in Ubud, Bali.  It’s a great place to visit.   Aloha, Renee


About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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