Yesterday was our most enriching day so far, and definitely the steepest learning curve; for all the right reasons. We visited The Bali Culture Centre!
After a 9 hour sleep- YIPPEEE! We set off for Monkey Forest area to visit a restaurant names “Tropical View” and enjoyed a beautiful and typical seating area, over looking the rice paddies. They spread as far as your eye can wander. We enjoyed a (£3) light lunch and coconut whilst watching the rice field workers do their thang! The walk to Tropical View from our home stay only takes 30 mins and yet by the time we arrived the humid air had hold of our lungs and we were sweating from places we didn’t even know we had! And yet you cant complain whilst watching the men working in the rice fields. Whilst Miky was around the bar I caught eyes with an old working man a few meters away. His face was friendly, and sunken in and his eyes alight with kindness. His toothless grimace as he bent to pick something up reminded me of my mum, HAHA JUST KIDDING, it reminded me to be grateful of my life…and teeth!
When M returned I reluctantly agreed to a long walk to “Bali Classics” the sun was hotter than it had been before and I wasn’t keen on sweating my b*lls off when we didn’t even know if it was worthwhile! The walk there was challenging! We took a wrong turn,
there was no shade and a dead cat. It took more than an hour in the blistering sun and by the time we arrived sun burn and mild heatstroke had set in! We walked through the gates and heard gentle Balinese music, and saw beautiful statues and buildings. Then we arrived at another set of gates thick with security. Great! They didn’t speak english, but offered us a seat in the shade whilst they summoned someone who did. We paid an entrance fee of 100,000 IRP each and followed a young balinese man inside. We had no idea what to expect, we kind of thought we would walk around and look at the architecture. But no, we were in for a treat!
We joined 12+ other tourist, most of whom were Korean and had a welcome drink of Robinson’s squash! Everyone sat whilst enjoying live Balinese music beside an open air stage. The young man explained that we will see a welcome dance. Suddenly out comes a
peculiar sight, a man in a mask which resembled something like a sex doll! An elaborate and colorful costume and no shoes, he proceeded to prance about the stage, fingers twiddling- short sharp movements. It was wonderful, he then came over to our table and invited me to take a photograph with him.
Everyone else was jealous!
for sure! The show went on, and the tourists continued drizzle in- acts and dances including animal dances for good luck and protection and eventually a dance with 2 (rather short) Balinese ladies with traditional clothing and makeup. The ladies came over mid-dance to our table and dragged Mikhail up on stage, despite his concerns that he “does not know how to dance!” Without instruction, (or ability) Miky began twirling around whilst awkwardly wiggling his arms and fingers, whilst I watched from the comfort of my seat recording this hilarious and awkward affair. The dance continued for about 3 mins before Miky was able to whimper back to me, red faced and cringing- which point my cackle had become a silent wheeze!
After the dance we were unexpectedly but happily escorted around the grounds, with a tour by the same young man and with 3 other people. He explained his name- WYAN means he is the first born. The Balinese people name their children by the order in which they are born 1- 2- 3- 4- he also gave detailed descriptions of- the offerings that we see laden around the roads and houses, and the scary looking gargoyles, and the black and white checkered blankets around the trees and much more! He explained that they put black and white material where they believe spirits, (good or bad) to be. They believe in complete equality and so if they honor the gods and display offerings of music, representations and flowers then they must also honor the bad spirits, to prevent the bad spirits from getting jealous and thus spoiling the harmony of life. The white color on the checkered blankets represents the purity of the gods and Devine spirit and the black represents the darkness inside the evil spirits. They make representations of the bad spirits also, in the form of Gargoyles as they do the Gods. At first it seemed hard to understand, he pointed to a statue with bulbous evil eyes and long tongue to his belly button, and said “devil” “daemon” “we honor”, which confused and concerned me! It wasn’t until the remainder of the explanation that I began to understand the reasoning! The Balinese religion is a mixture between indian hinduism, and buddhism from Thailand plus the spiritual heritage of the Bali Aga and their own folk law, so its hard to compare to any other religion.
We stood by a beautiful but mozzie ridden lake and watched a “Barong”, a pig (2 people in consume) do a short dance. Barongs traditionally would wander village to village, every 6 months or so and their dance would bring protection and luck to the village. The villagers would then be expected to tip the Barong with food or money. After the dance we took photos with the pig and tipped some money, apparently not a good enough sum as from the pigs hooded mask we heard unkind mutterings! We then proceeded to a shaded area where a young local surrounded by many offerings that she had made, was cutting the coconut leaves in order to tease them into their new shapes. We learnt that only women make can make the offerings, and they may only marry once they have become skillful at it.
Myself and the two other girls each began making one, whilst Miks looked on with disappointment! He desperately wanted to try his hand at it, although he couldn’t make the box offering he was allowed to fill it with the flowers and treats being offered to the spirits. The positioning of each colored flower is relative to the individual God of direction i.e- North, East, South and West.
We then watched a “Wayand Lemah” a traditional sort of puppet show accompanied by music; with thick figures made from cow skin, there are 100 or so different characters and they depict eastern philosophies that have inspired many cultures. Then Miks and I got a go at making the voices of the characters! After which we learnt and aided in the bashing of rice and the making of coconut oil, which was an odd coincidence as whilst applying my daily dose of coconut oil that morning I asked M how it was made!
The whole experience was fabulous, especially as it was unexpected! We were the happiest, sweatiest tourists you’ve ever seen, completely immersing ourselves in Balinese culture!
LOVE AND LIGHT
P.S- I miss you Aleisha and Annabelle xxxx
check out more photos on my memories page.by