Friday, November 26, 2010

The First Big Tour

Naturally these pictures are not in order but I'll try to give you an idea of my first tour in Bali. I grabbed a map (I guess I have a thing for maps) from a small touring company on the way to the beach. It's owned by a very nice guy and on the map are several different tours and activities available. One of the activities is a Balinese cooking class that was tempting although he did mention it was run by his sister and there were several cooking classes so I did some shopping and never did make time to take a class. Typical, I know.

Anyway, this tour is of an ancient (age unknown) seaside temple. It was amazing and all the intricate carvings in stone had been worn smooth by the weather, it didn't take much imagination to see how it must have looked when first built and that it is so old, no one seems to be able to set a date when it was constructed. It is so sacred that men must wear a sarong to cover their knees and everyone must wear a sash. In the picture above, I'm the one in the sarong.

There was also an elaborate fire dance that went well into the night. I'm glad it wasn't the full version that we were told takes several days and the short version was plenty. The plot is from an ancient Hindu sacred text and reads like a soap opera with a villain trying to steal the beautiful princess and everyone taking on various disguises or forms. The music consisted of the 40 men chanting, no instruments are used.

As it went into the night, several piles of straw were lit and a monkey character kicked these burning piles sometimes hitting the chanting men or the audience. It was exciting and naturally I had a front row seat that didn't seem all that attractive during that particular dance. No wonder the priest shown is the last photo blessed the event in the beginning.

After the dance, we headed to a strip of restaurants that have the tables on the beach. It was great and I apologize for not having a decent picture of the set up, but it was dark and lighting was kept to a minimum so everyone could enjoy the stars. I did get a picture of one of the roving bands who serenaded unsuspecting eaters much like a Mexican mariachi band. In fact, I may sound like a broken record in comparing Bali to Mexico but it is strangely similar. I've told family that sometimes I felt like I was in an old Star Trek episode involving a parallel universe! I'll show later a picture of a couple young kids and an older woman in front of colorful material and you'd swear I took the photo in Mexico or Guatemala.

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