The biggest deal in 30 years

Trip Start Jul 05, 2008
Trip End Aug 30, 2008

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Woke up to the sound of roosters and a cooing baby.  I'm sharing a house with a Balinese family.  The baby, Pudu, is only one yeare old.  I've never seen a monther dote on a child like this, all day playing and singing to her in Balinese. She's really friendly, but doesn't speak much English.
Norman, the owner of the place I'm staying, brought me breakfast on the porch - some kind of green pancake with banana inside, and fruit salad.  I wandered around Ubud, taking pictures, because it turns out that I am insanely lucky.  Tomorrow is a royal cremation, they only happen once every 30 yrs or so, this one is for the Balinese king.  Ubud is absolutely aflutter with activity.  They've built huge sacrifices, including 3 gigantic black and gold bulls that are easily 3 stories tall.  The bull is the vehicle that takes the spirit to heaven.  They also have several huge pagodas that are even taller, the biggest one over 5 stories.  I think this is the structure that transports the royal remains to the cemetary.  All of these sacrifices are carried by hand, about 200 people each.  It's organized by villages, each village carries it so far and then they switch to a different group.  Tonight I watched the spectacle of them moving them in line on the street. Thousands of people gathered around, mostly Balinese, in awe of it.  This is a huge event for them, the biggest of their lifetimes, you can feel it in the air. They have chickens and birds in cages handwoven from grass that will be sacrificed.  I must find a way to get pictures up here.
Today I also went to Monkey Forest Sactuary.  It was a nice cool walk, but not too monumental for me as I'm used to monkeys.  I then got totally lost but eventually found my way into town, did some modest shopping. They have beautiful traditional masks here which are very frightening, especially since they are crowned/bearded with human hair!
The food here is exquisite, I've been served quite a bit of tempeh, and here in its native land its far superior to that gag-inducing substance we choked back in Fung.
Tonight Norman drove me to see the nesting grounds of white cranes, which I could've done without, since I saw white cranes every day in Chenching Lake.  But anyways, after that he took me to see a Kekac Dance.  If you haven't seen one, I can't describe it to you, sorry. Check out some of these   It's like nothing I've ever seen. Amazing.

First day in Bali and I think you're all mad for not coming here.  The colors everywhere, the perfect weather, beautiful architecture, volcanoes, the lush foliage and hibiscus flowers literally raining down around you,  ... it makes me convinced that this may bye THE most beautiful place I've ever been to... and I haven't even been to the beach yet.
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