I’m home! I arrived home this afternoon, which is always fun, too! I’ll be looking forward to taking up my ‘regular’ life again, starting with a party at my sister’s house tomorrow.
Last week in Bali, I again spent much of a day on a motorbike, as Wayan (my tout) took me to see some ‘out of town’ ancient temples and sites. The first one was especially interesting. It was an 80-foot-long diorama carved in stone in the 14th century showing many scenes of daily life including a boar with a man’s hand in his mouth, and Ganesha, the ever-present Hindu elephant-god.
A crisis developed when I confessed I had forgotten my sarong that one needs to wear inside temples, but Wayan said that usually the temples have sarongs to lend so it should not be a problem. However, the second temple didn’t have any so I was not allowed to go in, but did take some photos from the gate. In subsequent temples they provided a scarf, worn like a belt, which did the trick.
The final was Gunung Kawi consisting of 10 candi (shrines), each 26 feet high, cut out of the rock face in the 11th century. To get there, one had to walk down hundreds of stone steps to a lush green river valley. But what goes down must come up, and that was the hard part! It was the final site we visited, not because there weren’t more to see, but this one, along with the heat and humidity, finished me off!
The next day I went to the Palace of Fine Arts in Ubud, which was a beautiful campus of several buildings amid gorgeous gardens. Balinese painting is kind of a mystery to me, though. It always seems like a ‘find the monkey in the tree’ puzzle, yet is very beautiful, too. One always has to study each painting a long time to get the sense of it, there is so much going on in each painting. I really couldn’t bear to do that with each one, but it was still enjoyable. I did sneak one picture (no flash), which was of a cremation, much like the one I saw. The bull sarcophagus is on the left and the tower is on the right.
Then I bought some souvenirs for the grandkids at the crafts market, and while in there, heard some music outside. Running to look, there was a procession complete with gamelan orchestra that turned into the Pura Marajan Agung, the private temple for Ubud’s royal family. Since I wasn’t wearing a sarong, I didn’t feel I could follow them in to see what the ceremony was about.
The next day I went for a long walk on Monkey Forest Road. I visited the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which has thousands of monkeys living in it. When I entered, I picked up a ‘walking stick’ ostensibly because my foot was a little sore, but truth to tell, I was a little afraid of the mean monkeys. Actually, I did brandish the stick a couple of times when they threatened me a bit. The sanctuary was beautiful, but that many monkeys are off-putting; in those numbers they reminded me of rats!
And then, Nirvana! I came across an enterprise that offered 30-minute deep massage on legs and feet, for $3.50! It was just wonderful, especially since I could ‘feel’ my thigh muscles that I had obviously used climbing up and out of Gunung Kawi the other day. I had a massage every day for four days!
On Monday Wayan motorbiked me to three museums and one temple. The temple, called Goa Gajah, the elephant cave temple, was interesting and in a beautiful setting. This time I remembered to bring my sarong. I have a picture of this temple on my blog, taken in 1993.
Two of the three museums, the Rudana and the Blanco were outstanding! I was quite surprised that Bali had museums of this caliber. The Rudana was huge and had quite modern Balinese art, which is far more accessible than the older paintings, to my mind. It also is a very beautiful building.
Antonio Blanco was a Spaniard but lived and worked in Bali from 1952 until his death in 1999. He’s kind of a Bali Dali—even looked like him. He specialized in nude women, his idea of the most beautiful thing on earth!
Unfortunately just as we were turning into the museum, two motorbikes collided right behind us. Then later when I was eating my lunch, two other motorbikes collided right in front of the restaurant. I was so glad that I was done with riding on motorbikes. They are too dangerous!
Much safer was a cooking class that I took at a local restaurant, Bumi Bali. We were thirteen students from Canada, Switzerland, Finland, Holland, Australia and me from the USA. Our teacher was great—a young Balian. We received a nice recipe book and an apron!
We started at 9:00 AM by trooping over to the market for a quick lecture and demonstration of the many spices, herbs and other condiments available there. Do you know the difference between Greater Galangal and Lesser Galangal? I do now!
Back at the school, the teacher demonstrated seven different dishes, which we participated in preparing in small ways. The first was a hot spicy concoction to be used in preparing many other dishes, called Base Gede. All these ingredients were blended and then cooked. Other dishes were Tuna with Fresh Seasonings, Mixed Vegetables, Tempe Manis which is a relative of tofu, which surprisingly I liked a lot, Curried Chicken, Pork Sate and Sambal Shrimp. As you can see, we ate well. The portions were small but not tiny, so it was quite a feast. That’s the third cooking class that I’ve taken in foreign lands (Laos and Tuscany), and I’ve enjoyed them all very much!
One more museum, the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) rounded out my museuming for this trip. Accidently, I visited the four main art museums in Ubud in the proper order. They got progressively better! This one was huge and wonderful. One of their masterpieces is Raden Saleh’s 1857 ‘Portrait of a Javanese Nobleman and His Wife.’
On my last day in Ubud I had the special treat of having lunch with a daughter of the Pockells, my CA friends. Sarita and her husband and two children just arrived and will be living in Bali for six months. They are in the process of renting a house and lining up schools for the two children. Sarah gave me a CD of children’s songs that she co-wrote and co-recorded, called “Kid Kaleidoscope,” to give to my youngest grandchild. It was fun to renew acquaintances with them and share in their plans for their lives in Bali!
After lunch I got the shuttle bus to the Denpassar Airport and set off for home. This trip was very exotic and perhaps not my favorite as Sulawesi was geared to the more athletic activities of diving and hard-core trekking, which I don’t do. Still, it was a very interesting time and I’m glad I visited it. Bali was a nice capstone, too—in fact, everyone should visit beautiful Bali sometime in their lives.
Roger and Out—Carol