Exploring Bali culture
Scorpio in Indonesia 3

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We arrived in Bali at Kalibukbuk village in an area on the north coast called Lovina Beach. Now it was time to turn tourists for a few days. Together with Julia and Horst on the American boat Pacific Star, we hired a car and driver and went for three days to Ubud, which is considered to be the cultural centre of Bali.

95% of the 4 million (!) Balinese are Hindus, which is very obvious in the architecture and the music all over the island. It is completely different from the remote eastern islands that we had visited on our way, actually it feels like a different country.

At the Ulun Danu temple
With Horst and Julia
Many statues wear clothes!
Ploughing before bedding the new rice
Scenic rice terraces
A temple at Ubud
The Balinese worship the same gods as the Hindus of India, the trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Visnu, but they also have a supreme god, Sanghyang Widi. Also, a great many purely Balinesian gods, spirits and entities have considerable relevance in everyday life. It's all about the constant fight between good and evil - good spirits against giants, demons and other bad spirits. Offerings are carefully put out every morning to pay homage to the good spirits. There are temples in all villages, shrines in every field and offerings made at every corner - you have to mind your feet, not to step on them - and you can't get away from religion in Bali.

A panorama of rice terraces at Gunung Kawi

Around Ubud are temples, ancient sites and whole villages producing handicrafts, and the city is dotted with galleries.
Holy water at Tirta Empul temple
Worshipers at Tirta Empul
Wearing sarongs is required in temples
During our stay in Ubud we visited several temples and every evening we went to dances or other shows. On the photos above we are at the holy springs of Tirta Empul, which are believed to have magical powers. They bubble up into a large crystal-clear tank and gush out through water spouts into a bathing pool.
Shrines carved in rock face
Offerings at Gunung Kawi
Thumbs up!
The wondrous Gunung Kawi (above left) consists of 7m-high shrines cut into niches in the sheer cliff face. There was a constant flow of women who brought beautyfully design baskets of fresh fruit as offerings to the gods. Here, as in all holy places we visited, you need a sarong and shah - both women and men.

Music, Dance and drama are closely related in Bali. The dances are a blend of seriousness and slapstick

Photos from some graceful LEGONG dances

The photos above (3 rows) are from a Legong dance performance, the most graceful group of Balinese dances.

Video extract of this Legong dance, featuring the girl in the middle, lowest row:

The four photos above are fom a performance of the Kecak, or Monkey dance, popularly called the Fire Dance. It is unusual because it does not have a musical accompaniement. Instead, the background is provided by a chanting choir of men who "sing" the "chak-a-chak-a-chak-chic-chic" noise that distinguishes this dance.

Shadow Puppet poster
Shadow Puppet screen
Backstage Shadow Puppets
One evening we weent to a Wayang Kulit play. It is a Balinese Shadow Puppet theater, where back-lit shadows of mythological figures are projected on a screen. It is almost like an ancient "101 pixel" TV. The play is in Indonesian language, but to lighten it up they have included some jokes in English.

A video extract of the English-language-joke:

To view these photos and some additional images as a (manual) SLIDE SHOW click HERE.