Finishing off the story - A Day trip to Ubud

Trip Start May 18, 2006
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Trip End Jun 07, 2006


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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On Thursday I spent my only full day with my guide Nyoman (pronounced YO - MAN). He picked me up at 8 in the morning and we headed off for a day of adventure, that i didn't realise would be so tiring. Still, suffering from the night before when we returned from fishing, my head was in need of rest, so i left Russ in the hotel, as he bowed out for a day's rest.

The first stop of the day was on the way to UBUD. We arrived at the 'Sari Wisata Budaya' the home to the traditional Balinese dancing (contact +62 361 724050). There are 2 styles 'Barong' and 'Kris' and this morning i was to witness 60 minutes of the Barong story.

The Barong Play represents an eternal fight between good and evil spirits. Barong (a mythological animal) represents a good spirit and Rangda (a mythological monster) represents an evil one.
I also learnt that many of Chequered black and white cloths you see being worn, draped around offerings and used in religious processions symbolize that good and evil exists everywhere. And that we should not favour either, but just let the harmony of life come together as black repels white and vice versa.

The dance was performed in 6 acts and starts over with the traditional music being played by the orchestra. It was quite amusing to see how technology changes life as we know it. As you can see from the picture, one musician is being distracted by a SMS message on his phone !

The following overview has been taken from the hand out i was given at the show... If you get bored reading it, just skip to the end, and read the rest of the blog !!

Act 1
Followed by his friend the monkey, the tiger comes up. Three masked dancers appear, representing men making palm wine in the forest, whose child is killed by the tiger.The three men get angry and attack the tiger which is helped by the monkey. During the fight the nose of one of the three men is bitten off.

Act 2
Two Girl Dancers appear, representing the servants of Rangda, looking for the servants of Dewi Kunti who are on the way to meet their Patih (prime minister)

Act 3
The servants of Dewi Kunti come. One of the servants of the Rangda changes into a witch, which enters both servants to make them angry. They meet their Patih and go together to Dewi Kunti.

Act 4
Dewi Kunti and her son, Sadewa come up. Dewi Kunti has promised the Rangda to sacrificeSadewa. A witch appears and enters Dewi Kunti. She becomes angry and orders Patih to bring Sadewa into the forest. The Patih is also entered by a witch so he does not have pity on Sadewa. Sadea is then taken into a forest and tied up on tree.

Act 5
Unknown by Rangda, Siwa, God appears and gives Sadewa immortality. The Rangda appears ready to kill Sadewa and eats him up but Sadewa is still alive. She then surrenders and asks him to redeem herself, Sadewa agrees and kills the Rangda. The Rangda goes into Heaven.

Act 6
One of the servants of Rangda called Kalika comes up before Sadewa and asks him to redeem herself too, Sadewa repulses. Kalika gets Angry, and changes herself into a boar and fights Sadewa. The boar can be defeated, she then changes herself into a bird but is defeated again. At last she changes herself into a Rangda, Sadewa cannot kill her. In Such circumstances Sadewa dilates and then he changes himself into a Barong. Still the Rangda seems to be too powerful and the fight is unending. Followers of the Barong appear and help him fight the Rangda !!!

THE END

The whole experience was quite interesting and quite amusing in places. The music is very different to what you are likely to have heard before, and at times sounds like the crashing of pots and pans in a nursery school !!

From here we headed off to the Bali Bird park and Zoo.
http://www.bali-zoo.com/

I wasn't overly excited about visiting this place, but thought it would be worth seeing what was on offer, as obviously different zoo's equal different species. And now at least i can say I've see the only remaining descendant of the Dinosaur era. The Komodo Dragon.

However, it was good fun to dash round for an hour and see lots of different animals, including crocodiles, alligators, camels, snakes, a whole range of different gibbons amongst others.

I also had my photo taken with a 50kg python !! I did this once before about 20 years ago with my sister in England.. and didn't really enjoy the experience then either... The snake had diet of 6 chickens every 3 days...and thankfully he was 36 hours away from the next feeding when we became friends. The power of it's muscles as i wrapped him around my shoulders was quite scary, and i now can see how they easily strangle their pray. I wouldn't have a hope in hell !

I managed to get some nice photo's which will be viewable here very soon.

The next Stop was to the 'Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana' Sacred Monkey forest and temple. www.balimonkey.com (although website not working at the moment).

This is an area of public ground which contains many Balinese Macaque Monkeys. They vary in size and age, as it is an entire population. On entering the park you can buy a bunch of Bananas for about 1. I thought it would be good to feed the monkeys, but soon found out i was in for a shock !

They can see the colour yellow from a long distance, and very quickly i had a number of snipers, and stalkers marching towards me. the braver one's start confronting you, and fortunately i didn't hide mine down my top like one lady !

On the whole they aren't aggressive, as long as they get what they want ! One monkey took 5 bananas from me, before he was happy to appear in a photo.. but much of this was due to my apprehensiveness...like with most animals. they say they can detect your fear... mine was in abundance to start off with.
But you do see the monkeys hugging people and sitting on their shoulders or heads. Apparently, these monkeys are one of the friendliest on the island. In the other monkey reserves it is quite common for them to take your personal items, in exchange for bananas !!

From here we headed off out of UBUD and up towards the volcano's and mountains. This took us past the beautiful terraced rice paddy's. This was one of my dream moments, after seeing them on a postcard my sister sent home a few years ago. The colours are so lush, it's quite amazing. And hopefully some of my pictures will do the colours justice.
One of the interesting things i discovered was the use of scarecrows to et rid of the birds.
The farmers create complex chains of rope, suspended from posts and tree's in the valley. Along the line, you find petrol cans filled with Stones, carrier bags, and other flashy, noisy items, which are all activated from the farmers hut at the top of the valley.

They have spotters, looking for birds which may land in the rice, looking for food. ON noticing said bird the scarecrow system is activated, and you see lines of jumping litter , moving up and down he valley !! It really was quite novel, but simple, cheap and effective, as the birds took to the air, to flee the noise.

The next part of the journey took us to the top of the hill opposite Mt Batur, the home of the Volcano Kintamani, and Lake Batur. The drive takes you through 100's of stone masons and woodworkers, who ply their trades on the side of the streets. Their outputs are amazing, and it would be lovely to have some of the ornaments in the garden at home..Maybe one day hey !!

It was quite hazy at the top of the mountain, so we broke for lunch in a beautiful restaurant overlooking the area. I'm sure on a clear day the views must be stunning, as they weren't disappointing on my arrival.

If i did return to the area, i would be very tempted to do the sunrise walk. This starts at 2am and takes you to the top of the volcano 4 hours later, in time to see the sun rise over Bali.

IN the afternoon i went to a plantation which grew it's own Tea, coffee, cocoa, and various fruits. It was interesting to see and try really fresh coffee, and it probably was the best i tried in Bali. As any one who has travelled to the area will tell you, on the whole they have one of the worst cups of coffee you'll ever have tried !!

We then headed to the Gunung Kawi, 11th Century Sacred temple, 17 kilometers north east of Ubud, just after the town of Tampaksiring.

Outside the main entrance is a booth selling tickets...adults 4,100rp and children 2,100rp. I brought a sarong with me but no sash. A little way down the hill was a lady with a booth that was set up for 'sash rentals' for a donation price, I gave 1,000rp. The sash is important as it separates the clean upper half of the body from the unclean lower half when tied around the waist. You then proceed through a 'candi bentar' or split entrance down a long set of steps that pass more vendors, rice terraces and locals doing their laundry.

Close to the bottom of the steps is a walkway carved out of the rock with an archway at the bottom. A small sign directs those entering to splash holy water over their heads from the pot provided. I used the little brush to splash water on my head 3 times, which seemed appropriate.

I immediately saw a collection of 4 large candi with a traditional bale structure in front. These are called the Queen's Tombs. On the left side there was also a tomb carved out of the rock. It's a pretty impressive sight to see something ancient like this which has been hacked out of the rock. Archeologists believe these 4 tombs were for the kings minor consorts.

The rest of the temple area is impressive and well worth a viewing, but i was beginning to tire at this point, and decided to climb back up the numerous steps to the entrance.

On the way home, i stopped in to the travel agents and purchased the flights for our trip to Lombok, before returning home at 7.30, to round off a magnificently exciting day.
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