#9 Bali, Nov. 3, 2011

I flew the two hops from Manado to Makassar and then to Denpasar, Bali, arriving after dark. I got a taxi to take me to an LP recommended hotel, which was full, but I found another a few doors away, the Hotel Sorga Kuta. When I inquired about going to Ubud the next day with the Perama shuttle service, the desk clerk urged me to walk over to their office to make my reservation, as he said they wouldn’t always accept it by phone. So he gave me a map and I walked, in the dark, over hill and dale and finally found it. The next morning I walked there again and was part of a busload of tourists that went to Ubud, taking about 1½ hours. Much of Bali is so celebratory of their temple architecture that mundane buildings resemble temples and there are religious shrines full of flowers everywhere. The Perama office had its own waterfall/pond with koi fish.

On the way to Ubud we went through many craft villages including one that majored in stone carving. Others specialized in painting, woodcarving, silver, baskets, etc. Finally we arrived in Ubud.

I made use of a tout who met the bus and showed me a picture of the Hotel Hutama that he was touting and so I said I’d have a look, and jumped on his motorbike. The hotel was fine (looked like a temple!) and cheap so that was an easy way to get a room. I learned later that this was originally a family home, now a ‘homestay.’ The woman who owned it had her living quarters almost right next to my room and went about several times a day putting flowers and incense here and there to bless everything. Her husband had died two years ago. Part of the grounds were given over to monuments to dead family members. The desk clerk told me that all their grown children lived in Denpassar, but came here from time to time.

Upon exploring my street I found many, many family homes that had been turned into ‘homestays’ or art galleries. I gather that a hundred years ago this was a fancy street where the affluent lived. Almost every door was a marvel of art detail that was just overwhelming. Think of the time and energy and resources that this consumed, and still consumes!

I walked downtown and looked into the Ubud Palace where the Ubud royal family still lives. Of course there was more lavish artwork-likewise some other temples. One had a huge lotus pond in front of it; another a gold door. There were statues everywhere. I think Ubud, Bali, Indonesia is unique in the world. Funny, I wasn’t as impressed with it when I visited in 1993, but perhaps it was that I hadn’t seen as much of the world then—I don’t know.

 

 

 

 

‘My’ tout found me on the street and told me that there would be a cremation ceremony about noon that day in his home village, and did I want to come? So off we went on his motorbike. When we got there, he said I should buy a sarong since it wasn’t polite not to be wearing one for these ceremonies. So we ducked into the market, I got one, and he helped me wrap it over my jeans in some satisfactory way.

The festivities were just getting started in the temple compound. Two gamelan orchestras had assembled, and soon started playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a huge cartoonesque bull in the street standing on a framework of bamboo poles, which later were used by the pallbearers to carry the bull. Behind it was a brightly colored ‘tower’ that had an old woman’s picture on the back (the deceased), which is where they eventually put the coffin. I was the only tourist, and tried to be inconspicuous, but Indonesians are so nice and hospitable that no one gave me any funny looks. There was a man with a bullhorn who finally set up the procession, and off they went. I marched at the very end of the procession, which was quite long.

 

 

 

 

 

We walked about eight blocks to a grassy area, where they set the bull up on a stone platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This took quite a while as they did many tasks related to correctly setting the burnable materials so that it would cremate the body. The gamelan orchestras continued to play.

They began to remove the bull’s whole upper back and then brought the coffin over to the pyre.

-After processing around the bull three times, the body was removed from the coffin although in a white cloth and placed in the body of the bull.

 

 

 

The bull’s back was put back in place.

 

 

 

 

The fire was lit, was helped along with two air compressors and the structure started to burn.

The air was festive on this occasion, but the deceased was old. I would think it would have a very different air if the deceased were a young person, but maybe not.

 

 

 

 

 

The crowd observed the cremation while sitting on the lawn.  The gamelan orchestras continued to play.  Vendors sold softdrinks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally the structure was completely burned.

Back to town and a Bintang beer with lunch. So it goes.

Carol

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