Bali, Indonesia (Day 2)
Before we get to what we did on February 27, our second day in Bali, the last episode ended with a promise of Balinese dancers. This was an excellent dance troop, very graceful in executing complicated and subtle dances. The Gamelan orchestra was really good too. You might think their music was just cacophony if you did not pay close attention, but it was actually quite beautiful. The orchestra played a piece and then there were four dances, including a warrior’s dance & a bird dance (can’t remember what the other ones were called).
Our second day was to be dedicated to the master craft studios of the Ubud-Mas area. The local royal family began cultivating artists and artisans in the 1930’s and it became a center for native and foreign artists. It was not until the 1980’s that it began to grow into the large town (about 30,000) known for its arts that is so attractive to foreign visitors today. One could easily spend several days exploring Ubud’s palaces, galleries and museums but we didn’t have that kind of time so we opted to spend our time at several art & craft galleries in the area.
As on the first day, the traffic leaving the port was really bad. Crossing a bridge we had a glimpse of Mt Agung, the volcano that has erupted a couple of times in the last six months. Unfortunately, the picture was taken from the back of a bouncing van, so its pretty unclear, but it’s the only one we have. We also passed people working in their rice fields. The people of Bali give offerings to the Hindu gods pretty much every day. Consisting mostly of fruit and flowers, often in a small tray that is sometimes placed in a small shrine, you see these everywhere. Our driver was no exception.
Our first stop was at a textile gallery. Most of these galleries had people working on the products as well as a showroom for purchases. The textile place specializes in batik. There are three techniques, in order of increasing difficulty (and price): printing on the fabric, hand stamping patterns of color, and using dye and wax to create the entire colored pattern by hand.
A weaver was also working outside the shop. Most of the workers we saw were outside the galleries; cooler presumably, and also good advertising.
Next we visited a silver studio and gallery called Yan Yan. We really have no idea where in the Ubud area each of these galleries was; it often seemed to take quite a bit of driving to get from one to the other. We did not walk the streets of Ubud, but just drove to various galleries. All were interesting though, both to see the craftsmen at work and their finished wares.
Inside, the showroom was extensive including several rooms of jewelry and unusual sculpture.
In the courtyard out front was a statue of Ganesh, the elephant headed Hindu god. There were some lovely flowers as well. Across the street was a house that must belong to a wealthy person.
After Yan Yan, Gede took us to visit what he described as a typical Balinese house. It was more of a compound of one room buildings than a house, surrounded by a wall. It seems doubtful that poor Balinese can afford digs like this, so this must be a typical middle class house. Daytime activity apparently takes place outdoors where it is a little cooler, with sleeping indoors. We were given some of the impossibly thinly sliced pancakes, which were quite good.
In the back of the compound was an area set aside for shrines. But that didn’t mean there weren’t offering trays elsewhere.
Many colorful flowers decorated the family compound.
Several chickens were penned into small woven baskets and a rooster was strutting around near them. A porcupine was nearby. In front of the street gate of the compound sat a stone guard looking very cool with a red flower above each of his ears. I guess he was wishing us a friendly goodbye.
After this we visited a wood carving shop. This may have been the most interesting one of all, chock full of fantastic carvings. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside. But outside we watched some of the craftsmen carving and finishing wood sculptures. Really interesting.
We had lunch at a restaurant called Bebek Joni, which was open on one side to a series of rice paddies. The food was very good (we had duck) & really inexpensive.
As usual in Bali, there were stone sculptures, even in front of the restrooms. In the rice paddy was a very large female goddess (presumably), & the rice paddies were, as always, picturesque.
After lunch we went to our last stop of the day: Semar Kiming painters’ cooperative. No photography was permitted inside the gallery, which was huge with a wide variety of paintings. While we were in the front room talking to the manager we heard a siren & a police car appeared leading a caravan of vans. He indicated we should move along to the next room & we thought maybe it was a visit by a foreign dignitary. It turned out to be a HAL tour!
On our way back to the ship Gede stopped the van to view a really spectacular traffic circle sculpture of an important Hindu story that is the basis for a well known Balinese dance.
And so we came to the end of a two day adventure that was pretty much the top highlight of the voyage to this point. It would have been even cooler if the following picture were real rather than fantasy (although, come to think of it, this might have resulted in chaos), but as it was everyone had a really great time. You may think you have seen this picture earlier, but look at it closely.