You can’t really visit Bali without experiencing one of its famous exotic dances. Some are complex dance-dramas that recount various myths and legends, while others are only performed during religious holidays. There are animal-themed performances as well, most humorously the frog dance. We opted for a Kecak Fire and Trance Dance (yes, Jimbob DID do the choosing on this one….).
What makes the Kecak special is that the accompanying music is provided by the human voice, the ‘gamelan suara’, a choir of a hundred or more men sitting in concentric circles swaying, standing up, and lying prone as the story develops:
The story itself was a fragment from the Ramayana Hindu epic. It narrated the life of Rama, legendary prince of the Kosala Kingdom. He was exiled for fourteen-years by his father King on the request of his step-mother. He then traveled across forests in India with his wife Sita and his brother. Sita was kidnapped and a war resulted to rescue her back. Rama eventually returned to be crowned king as the crux of the epic.
The Trance Dance was performed after the epic, and the version we saw was the Sanghyang Djaran (djaran meaning horse). A horse rider is lulled into trance by the repetitive sounds of the gamelan suara and in his hypnotic state he walked on a bed of burning coconut husks responding to the rising and falling of the music.
Although the show we watched was clearly a fairly mainstream tourist attraction, we were for sure experiencing some genuine history, culture, ancient arts and unique talent. I was enthralled by it. The girls had fairly mixed views, but were ultimately awed by the fire walking and thankful that its duration was only just over an hour.
We have loved getting to know the wonderful staff in our villa, and Wyan loves to share insights into local life with us, in particular Hindu traditions and ceremonies.
Various ceremonies and celebrations:
For the Balinese, Ngaben (cremations) are one of their most important ceremonies as they represent the release of the deceased’s spirit from the body, allowing them to reincarnate, or find final rest in Moksha free from the cycle of reincarnation and death. Fittingly cremations require significant effort, time and expense. To help defray the cost of a Ngaben, many Balinese temporarily bury their dead, to be exhumed for participation in a mass Ngaben at at later date. We’ve driven past several of these mass cremations, and Wyan shared with us this incredible video of the elaborate Ngaben of a senior religious leader in her province:
Back at home we practiced the far less erudite art form of some temporary tattoos!
One happy Sunday, we met up with Shervin (of Sound Healing fame) and one of his sons Aiden for an afternoon on the beach. We all swam in the sea, took in the glorious coast line, the men built a sandcastle, the kids found the swimming pool, and Sarah and I hung out in the warm lapping shallows for a deep-and-meaningful.
It was such a treat to spend the afternoon with great people, and we will be eternally grateful to Susie Hunt (Knox) for introducing us to such incredible new friends here.
Emily found the most gorgeous puppy on the beach. Sadly its boy owner had been dragging it in the sea and dunking its head under the water so Emily comforted it and dried it with a towel.
Sarah spent a happy morning at the Ubud market to pick up some souvenirs to take home (and actually as it turned out some gorgeous gifts for us).
James took Sarah on her last night to a Cocoa Ceremony at the Yoga Barn (I was at home nursing Emily who had a stonking fever). Watch this space for Sarah’s second guest blog which will hopefully give more insights into what sounded like a bizarre yet truly uplifting experience!
On her last morning we eventually completed the trixy circular puzzle that Sarah had kindly brought out with her. Phew!
And we all had a massage in the garden – what a treat!
For a final farewell lunch we went back to the fab duck restaurant over the koi ponds, and ate huge quantities of prawns.
And to finish for today, a fabulous dragon – laid out on the tiles of our terrace, made from leaves in our glorious garden!