Friday, October 8, 2010

Researching Bali

Everyone has been fantastic help in responding to our posts on Australia travel, which has gotten us very excited to keep on with the planning venture. Bali is next on the list of places to think about.

Bali is an Indonesian island located between Java and Lombok and is home to the majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. (Thanks Wikipedia). From everyone we know who has visited, it is a beautiful, lush, beach and culture filled place, and we can't wait to visit. Here's a summary of what we've heard so far and the plans we've made:

1) Katu. Tourists. As many tourists as flies on roadkill. We're going to go ahead and skip this one.

2) Gili Islands. It's amazing when you start asking people about travels locations and find that many of them have been to places you never would have expected. Case in point, the research assistant I work with has been to this little trio of islands off the coast of Lombok where all motorized vehicles are outlawed, you can buy magic mushrooms at the corner store, and you can walk around the perimeter of the biggest of the three islands in 90 mins. Wow. After a long debate, we decided if we'd had two more days, this would have made the itinerary, but with only 8 days in Bali, we've decided to spend out time exploring Ubud.

3) Ubud. The artistic and cultural center of Bali. Its a collection of village up in the hills, surrounded by rice patties, temples, and mountains. Bali has been a noted cultural center since the 1200s when nearby Java was overthrown and the Hindu intelligensia fled to Bali. The island remains mainly Hindu despite Indonesia being predominantly Islam. From what we've read, religion still permeates much of life in Bali from daily offerings to family relations, to multi-day ceremonies where the whole island stops to celebrate. We're excited to experience a culture so different from ours, so we've booked a place for the whole stay in Ubud, within easy striking distance of all the monasteries, shrines, and ancient architectural sites in the area.One thing we are particularly keen to check out is the traditional dancing. There are a number of dances, here is a description of one from the guide book:

"Kecak - Probably the best known dance for its spell-binding, hair-raising atmosphere, the Kecak features a "choir" of men and boys who sit in concentric circles and slip into a trance as they chant and sign the "chak-a-chak-a-chak" imitating a troupe of monkeys. Sometimes called the "vocal gamelan" this is the only music to accompany the dance re-enactment from the Hindu epic Ramayana."

A fun fact about Bali - traditionally, each persons' name starts with either I or Ni to designate male or female, then with Wayan for first-born, Made for second-born, Nyoman for third-born, and Ketut for fourth-born, then followed by something about them. For instance I Nyoman Darma Putra is a name given to a male third born who is meant to be "dutiful" or "good" (darma). When I received confirmation of our booking at Ibunda Bungalows, the email came from Ketut Sumbar Jaya. I look forward to finding out what his name means.

75 Days till Liftoff (Holy Cow)



    Ron Fricke's Baraka featured this scene of the Kecak. I'd hesitate to say that it 'popularized' the Kecak, but it certainly is the most salient image most folks have of it, I believe.

  2. Hey Gabe,
    Thanks for the link, the video is beautifully shot. Have you seen all of Baraka?

    (Did you know Fricke did cinematography for Star Wars 3, revenge of the Sith??)


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