Bali Indonesia Travel

I really loved travelling to Bali Indonesia. It's a magical place to vacation. The info contained here was gleaned from several sources. Any mistakes are mine.

The original text of this page was written in October 1998 and has been edited once or twice since. Photos were updated in 2002.

All photos here have been color corrected. Photos whose names end in "a" have been cropped.

Maybe I'm confused, but this photo reminds me of the neglect, dirt and decay, as well as the colors, religion, and the ever present spicy aroma of the island which greets you when they decompress the plane on arrival. This picture conveys maybe an inkling of the astounding beauty, age, and culture of the place.

Also in this picture is a good example of where offerings go. My friend Susy went to Bali to study offerings. On the ground there is an offering to demons. A bit above, on what I think is a concrete well cover, is another offering, and up on the shelf (above the gas can) are more offerings to the gods.

Although most of Indonesia is Muslim, Bali is Hindu. The Balinese have a deep religious life. Women spend a rather large part of their day making offerings. Auspicious and suspicious days require more complicated offerings.

Offerings are made from flowers, food and elegant palm-leaf baskets. The core of an offering is betelnut, which is a stimulant.

Here is another offering example.

Betelnut is prepared with natural lime, wrapped up in leaves, and chewed. Like most things people enjoy, betelnut bad for you. It stains your mouth red and ruins your teeth.

An offering without betelnut is not a real offering. Susy's friend Made sat down with us one day and showed how to make a certain kind of offering.

Some women in temple garb carrying big, complicated offerings in a temple procession. They are headed towards a river from the temple. This procession had a gamelon playing. They carry a chair where the gods can have a seat.

The best thing about a procession is all the little kids in their temple garb. They'll break your heart.

Some boys in their temple outfits. Something else worth commenting on here is the Balinese concept of personal space. We define personal space as how close somebody can get to you before you feel uncomfortable.

The Balinese have a definition of this space which will seem much too friendly for most Americans. This lack space often extends to the kinds of questions they will ask as well.

Although opposite-sex public displays of affection like holding hands are considered offensive, it is an everyday occurrence to see two or more persons of the same sex holding hands while walking down the street. Or with an arm over the other, like these boys.

Rice paddies. While in Bali I had the opportunity to eat what they call "Bali rice" which is the natural, not-genetically-altered rice. Genetically altered rice is "high-yield" and thus much less expensive, but the Balinese savor Bali rice when they can afford it. The difference is very subtle but palatable, like comparing sugar in the raw to granulated sugar. It also has a more solid, chewy texture.

The Balinese enjoy their rice sticky. And who can blame them!

Here is info on Jeff's mask-making teacher.
This is an example of his work.

I Wayan Muka
Mask Product
Br. Batan Ancak
Mas-Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
62 (0361) 974530

My friend Jeff is studying mask making under one of the most famous mask makers in the Ubud area. While all Balinese masks are grotesque, the above mask in particular struck me because it looks at first like the cruel caricature Europeans have foisted upon Asians for years.

I was informed that this mask is traditional and necessary at ceremonies because this man is in charge of talking to the gods. In fact, I was told that if they don't have this mask they might as well all go home.

The Balinese practice tooth filing as a rite of passage. They file the points off their teeth because this is supposed to temper their animal side. A look at the teeth of any mask will tell you how "civilized" a given character is. A quick look here reveals a display of humanity.

A traditional clown mask Jeff was working on. Balinese clowns are among the entertainment you will find at a temple ceremony. All the entertainment at temple ceremonies is actually intended for the gods, and apparently it is not unusual to find a full gamelon, puppet show, act, and/or dance going on at a ceremony with no person watching!

Nonetheless, Balinese clowns are apparently a load of fun. They tell the story line of what is going on in a performance and given a moment, will interject witty comments about current events. They also delight in slapstick humor.

A show at a temple ceremony we went to. I'm not sure if this was a clown or not. The photo is blurry as heck because it is considered impolite to use a flash at temples and I had to make do with what lighting was available.

Some of the clowns at this show did not wear masks and instead wore lots of wacky makeup. They had painted enormous eyebrows on their faces and walked around in circles very much like Groucho Marx.

On the next Bali Page - a visit to the Floating Pavillion in Klungkung!

More photos from Bali!


hits counter