Tuesday, September 16th, 2003 – Day 210 to Wednesday, September 17th, 2003 – Day 211

Tuesday, September 16th, 2003 – Day 210

I was up around 7.15am and had a small breakfast. I took the number six beano from outside the hotel to the bus terminal. It was 2000 IR and takes about 20 minutes. A wave of corruption has taken over Indonesian Bus terminals. There are agents waiting around the buses. You ignore them and get on the bus but they follow with the help of the driver and main ticket seller. Normally you buy your ticket mid way on the trip.

These guys have made a deal to make you buy a ticket there and then (for about twice what a local pays). You have little choice. If you do not pay, they kick you off the bus. Its an official ticket but its a rip off. Be warned. You may want to stand en route (to your destination) about 1km away from the station. The agent will have left the bus and you can then pay normal price!!!!

It was a 5 hour journey to Probolinggo. The ticket cost me 30,000 IR. It was a slow public bus (instead of air con which is dearer). It was hot, sweaty and stuffy. Ugg, Lots of stops and coming and going. Ignored most of it. At every stop about 12 guys came on selling food and drink. Maybe one sold something. Times are tough. We usually had a guitar player and singers on BUSKING as well. A hundred guys must have came on selling stuff during the trip. It was about 2.00pm when we reached Probolinggo. The ass hole in the pus would not leave out of the bus at the station. He told the driver to go on and let me off in front of an AGENT. I hate that shit and I did not acknowledge the agent. I walked back to the station. It was tough in the heat and dust but in principle I do not deal with middle men. I got a public mini bus to Cemoro Lawang. Again the true cost was meant to be 5000 IR but they charge foreigners 7500 IR. It was about two hours to get there. At least you pass some great scenery with nice farms growing onions, cabbage, corn and potatoes. It was real nice mountain scenery. You also see guys on horse.

We reached Cemoro Lawang about 4.30pm. This is a small crossroads village with a few shops and hotels. I booked into the basic room at the LAVA Hotel for 30,000 IR with shared Mandin and squat toilet.

Traditional Indonesian toilets (like those in most parts of Asia, the Middle East, and — once — Europe) consist of a hole in the floor and the necessary accoutrements. Here, a white porcelain plate generally surrounds the hole, with two slightly raised footprints.

You stand on the footprints, pull down your pants, and squat, trying to line up the relevant holes; this alignment gets easier with experience.

It also gets easier, with experience, to keep your pants out of harm’s way. The first few times, it may be simplest to just take them off. At first, you’ll probably also need to hold on to something with one hand to steady yourself.

In traditional squat toilets, a barrel of clean water sits beside the toilet. People use this water (a ladle or bowl floats inside) and their left hand to clean themselves, then empty a few more scoops of water into the toilet until all traces of their visit disappear. The water barrel is gradually replenished from a spring or brook (or from a faucet, if available), and this water remains pure. Wash your hands by ladling water over them, outside the barrel. Nothing dirty should ever be put into the barrel.

Note that Indonesian plumbing often cannot accommodate toilet paper without clogging. In many toilets (including western-style toilets), you’ll spot a nearby wastebasket for used tissue. Please use it! No, this isn’t what you were taught growing up, but you were taught to treat your hosts with respect, weren’t you? That means not clogging their toilet.

One more refinement: The shared bathroom where you take the water also doubles as a shower. You can sit in there throwing water over yourself but you should do it on the ground outside. its tough.

Anyway the people at the hostel were real nice. Linda was the manager. She gave me a map of the area. She said they were only teo other tourists staying and maybe 6 in the whole town. Things are bad. Is gets very hazy here at 11.00am, misty at 1.00pm and very cold and foggy at 6.00p(as well as dark). It was nice walkinga round the village as there are no street lights. Local people all wear a balnket around themselves here. It was nice and I had a nice quiet dinner and beer. I met the Austrain couple who are staying. The reason I am here is to visit Mount Bromo.

One of the most actively promoted attractions in East Java today is the excursion to Mount Bromo, situated in Tengger. It is a vast mountain, an eruption of massive proportions blew off its top leaving a huge caldera in which two peaks are located. One is the active volcano of Bromo and the other is the non-active of Mount Batok.

The uniqueness of the area’s characteristic is a reminiscent of a moonscape rather than anything related to the earth offers such breathtaking experiences, like observing sunrises and gazing into the volcano’s crater

Mt. Bromo is about 2,382 meters above sea level. Time has filled the caldera with grey sand and this expanse, which you walk across en route to Bromo itself, is known as the Sand Sea. It is about 10 km.

Across the Sand Sea is Mount Batok with its almost perfect cone. To the south, Mount Semeru, the highest mountain in Java provides a fining backdrop for this unearthly scene. While crossing the Sand Sea, low-lying fog which often envelops the caldera’s floor, adds to the mystery of the surroundings. As the temperature drops several degrees, the combination of cold air and the strange echoing of horse’s hoofs creates a fantastic sensation of walking across a huge frozen lake. Temperatures at the top of Mt. Bromo range about 5 to 18 degrees Celsius.

In the south, there is a rolling upland plateau dissected by valleys and dotted with several small scenic lakes extending to the foot of Mt. Semeru, a towering grey forest-skirted cone dominating the southern landscape. The offering ceremony of Kasodo is held each year by Tenggerese on the 14th day of full moon Kesodo (Tenggerese Calendar). Inhabitants of Tengger Mountain gather at the rim of Mt. Bromo’s active crater to present annual offerings of rice, fruits, vegetables, flowers, livestock, and other local products to the God of the mountain. As adherents of religion combining elements of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, they ask for blessing from the supreme God Hyang Widi Wasa.

How to get to the crater rim ?



I wanted some exercise so I decided to walk to the Crater at sunrise. it takes one hour in the dark and I set my alarma t 3.34am. I wanted to walk from there to the view point at Pananjakan (1 hour) and then to Mount Pananjaka proper (1.5 hours). It would then be a 2 hour walk back to the hostel. I bought the necessary water, cholate and bread for my trip. The Austrains were taking the same trip but in the opposite diretionn.

You need to be at Bromo before sunrise which starts at 5.00 am till 6.00 am. Take warm clothing with you because temperature is around 15° degrees.

A horse ride from the crater rim to Mount Bromo (2.5 km) is about 25.000 Rp. Taking a Jeep to go to the Viewpoint (12.5 km) on Mount Pananjakan and later on to Mount Bromo (10 km) is 20.000 Rp.

I was in bed my 9.00pm for my early start. There is nothing to the vilalge and nothing to do. It was also getting cold.

Wednesday, September 17th, 2003 – Day 211

I set off alone at 4.00am. it wasnt all that easy as when you there the fog is very tick and you have to follow the jeep and horse tracks. I was happy to reach the bottom of the crater at 4.45am. I had a chance to follow a horse rider some of the way. I was pitch dark and not a sound could be heard around the valley. It was pretty weird. Its a flat walk on pure sand so my boots were handy. There were a small group of people from Jakarta there and we walked the 350 steps to the rim of the crater to wait for sunrise.

If you take a left on the rim, you can walk around. This was better to escape any crowds and avoid the foul sulphur fumes comingfrom the crater. Sun rise was nice and it was soon light. I walked accross the sea of sand to get to Pananjakan. A the bottom of the steps there were many guides with horses bringing tourists.

It was like Cahirmee Horse Fair in Buttevent (2nd site here) in County Cork with the amount of horses. Check here for more information about the Bromo horse riders.

After an hour I got to the steep bit. it was a very hard walk and very steep. it was very hot. It took 2.5 hours to reach Mount Pananjakan proper. It was uphill ALL the way. All the tourists were gone and I ahd the place to myself. It seemed I was the only fool (except the Austrians who I met coming down) who were walking. Still the views were good and I could see Semur eruting smoke and fumes every 20 minutes or so.

I twas a very hard descent to the village as it was a dirt track with no signs. It went throught farms and forest and all the time the fog and mist were closing in. Its a track for farmers and wide enought for one person. Its like a cow track or anaiaml track and is rarelkyu used by tourists. i had to sk farmers the way a 2 or three cross roads. I was happy to get back and thirsty.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bromo – Java – Indonesia – walking (17-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bromo – Java – Indonesia – walking (17-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bromo – Java – Indonesia – walking (17-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bromo – Java – Indonesia – walking (17-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bromo – Java – Indonesia – walking (17-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bromo – Java – Indonesia – walking (17-09-2003)

It took 8 hours walking for the full trip and I felt I had enough exercise for a while. The Austrains were back 5 minutes after. We cleaned up and went for a bite to eat. I then walked around te viallge and farms for a while. The mist soon devored the viallge and it was dark and cold by 5.00pm. I had met no on on the walk. People are so lazy. Anyway me at Stefan (the Austrian) bought a few beers and drank outside our rooms. i had gone to bed at 9.00apm last night and again tonight. I was tired and had got a blister. Still we had good craic and I was groggy from the booze. I had planned to get up at 2.30am to see thge sunrise at Pananjakan but decided to sleep in until 8.00am.

Monday, September 15th, 2003 – Day 209

Monday, September 15th, 2003 – Day 209

I was up at six. No chance to have breakfast which starts at seven. I headed 1km down the main road to catch the number seven beano to the local bus station called Sasak Perot. It took about 15 minutes for one to come and another 15 to get there. It cost 2,000 IR (0.21Euro). Next I had to catch a bus to Licin.

Banyuwangi – Licin: 15 km by bus

I had to wait one FULL hour before it was full and allowed go. I like the bus service here. They go everywhere but I hate waiting. It was a beano type mini bus. I took nearly an hour because the bus was in shit shape and could not climb hills. We also stopped and started collecting and letting off people. It was a nice journey scenery wise when many kids in full Muslim dress waving at a foreigner in these parts (we are called Bule). We were out in the sticks (country) here.

We got to Licin but it was nothing but a crossroads. It had one school,and a mosque and a few shops. I asked around for a bus to Paltuding but no one knew. I had a choice of heading home, waiting for a maybe bus or hiring a moto taxi. I checked with the moto guys. They started at 60,000 Ir but I got one at 40,000 IR (4.35 Euro). He would drive me there, wait and drive me back here. I do not know if a bus service is available.

Licin – Paltuding: 18 km by motor bike

It was a hard road all of it up hill. The most 1/3 were coffee and mango plantations. The last 2/3 were dense rain forest. The road was just big enough for motorbikes and was more like a pathway. It became unpaved a few times. I had to get off the bike twice to allow the driver get ahead as the road was so steep. I doubt there is a bus service but you never know. I wonder why, as there were no houses.

Paltuding – Ijen Crater: 3 km on foot

Anyway we arrived, and I had to pay a 15,000 IR (1.60 Euro) entrance fee and sign a visitors book. It was 3km to the crater and the guardian told me it would take between 3 to 4 hours. I doubted him as I headed off.

There is a path all the way up (unpaved) and its bloody steep. It was hard going in the heat. I passed guys coming down with their 70 kilo loads in there baskets. Many were barefoot and looked worse for wear. I passed maybe 20 of these guys coming down. I took photos of many. They all asked for cigarettes in return. I should have brought a few packs but I did not know. I gave them 1000 IR (0.11 cent) instead,. They wee happy enough with that. Some asked for food or drink. About 1/2 way up, I came to the weigh station. Each man has to weight his baskets here and get a receipt.

I traveled on until I got to the crater rim. Sulfur fumes were over powering and you could not see 2 foot in front of you. Then every 10 minutes or so a gust of wind would blow it all away and you would get a great view of the crater lake.

Ijen has erupted six times since 1796, most recently in 1993. Most of the eruptions were phreatic. The eruptions have been small to moderate (VEI=1-2). In 1817, the crater lake collapsed, producing mudflows that destroyed three villages and 90 houses. The number of deaths is unknown. In late June of 1997, the color of the crater lake changed and seismicity and activity at the fumaroles increased but Ijen did not erupt.Starting 30 January to 5 February, an increase in seismic activity was recorded. Shallow volcanic earthquakes, several small explosion events, 6 tectonic events, and 2 tremor earthquakes were noted. Ijen is at Alert Level 2.

More information can be found here , and here .

Anyway I moved around the side of the rim. I was warned not to on by a worker but others said go ahead. I moved ahead slowly and got some good views of the lake. It was tuqqoise blue and very beautiful, although you would die immedialely if you fell in.

I met a worker who said he would bring me down to the lake and to where the workers got the sulphur. This was done in sign language as he had no English. He would have done it for 5000 IR but I decided to be over generous to this hard working man and promised 10,000 IR (1.10 Euro). I could have gone down by myself or followed another worker but as the sulphur was so strong and so overpowering I felt better going with some one.

You would take a few steps in clear weather when suddenly you would get devoured my a sulphur mist. Then you can not see one foot in front of you and your eyes start watering. It was worse than been teargassed in Cusco, yeah, twice. The sulphur gets into your eyes, mouth, nose lungs. Its all over your skin and body. I was glad to get down and see the workers collect the sulphur in there basket.

Sulfur gas is condensed in the crater by pipes and then mined. It very colourful with the red and yellow sulphur and the blue lake. Still there is no vegetation and everything is dead within the crater and the rim. I am glad I got a guide because I spent most of the time rubbing my eyes and coughing. It was basic chemistry;water in contact with sulphur dioxide makes sulphuric acid;simple, and painful too, if the moisture happened to be in your lungs, eyes and throat.

I just looked at his scandals the whole time and followed them. It was about 15 minutes down, 15 minutes there and 15 minutes back up. Half way up and down wee the worst as the fumes were bad there.

I thanked him and headed back at a steady pace. It was nearly three hours since I started. The best time is to get there between 6.00am an noon as they tend to finish around 2.00pm. The pipes directing the steam create enought sold Sulphur for about 2 loads per worker. Once gone they must wait until the next day. At the bottom, about 20 workers were on the ground resting and sleeping. I did try to lift a 70 kilo load and could not. They are hardy but with this stuff entering your lungs every day, they do not have a long life span. It also criples them.

My driver was there and we headed back. It was a total change. Instead of heat we drove through freezing fog and mist. It was the rain forest. It felt like Zero and I shivered on the bike. We could only see yards in front of us. This lasted most of the journey and I was happy to get to Licin. I did not expect the quick change of weather. Once back in Licin, it was warm again.

Here is an excellent article about the Java’s Sulphur Miners of Kawah Ijen . It has a nice story and cool pictures. I must check mine tonight. One note must be repeated: you need to get there early as the condensed steam produces enough sulphur for about 2 loads for every man. Once this is gone, their day is over until the next. I got there a bit late as many were just coming down. I had been in a 3rd Country mine before. It was Potosi in Bolivia.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ijen – Java – Indonesia – Mining (15-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ijen – Java – Indonesia – Mining (15-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ijen – Java – Indonesia – Mining (15-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ijen – Java – Indonesia – Mining (15-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ijen – Java – Indonesia – Mining (15-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ijen – Java – Indonesia – Mining (15-09-2003)

I got back from Licin easily although schools were out and many of them climbed to the top of the bus for room. Again many questions and stares for the only foreigner. I got the same number seven beano back into town. It was 3.30am and there was no point in heading out of town now. It was a fine palce anyway with good restaurants, Net access, Banks and friendly people. I went on the NET for an hour. My skin and clothes small of sulphur.

I am sick of these HELLO People. I had to give two grown men high fives tonight. Still i am some great Sate Kambing tonight for 7000 IR including ice tea.

A guy mentioned my site on Irish Property News. He said according to Spike Milligan speaking on the Late Late Show a little before he died. He dropped this little gem: One thing you’ll never regret or say when you reach old age is: ‘I wish I had never taken that round the world trip’.

Sunday, September 14th, 2003 – Day 208

Sunday, September 14th, 2003 – Day 208

I got little sleep last night because of the heat and my ineffective fan. I got bitten by god knows what all night. I had 15 welts on my right arm and similar on my left. I also got many bites on my toes.

Anyway I met the owner with his car and we drove 10 minutes to some rice fields. I had been out here walking yesterday. One by one they came. Two bulls pulling a chariot with a guy in it. What a site as many of the carts and bulls were decorated.

The Mekepung was originally held as a part of the harvest festivities. The carts and buffaloes were, until quite recently still used for transportation. The Mekepung consists of a race between two carts pulled by water buffaloes.

The colorfully decorated animals race on a two kilometers course. These days,

championship events are organized under the sponsorship of the local

government.

The Buffalo Race or Mekepung Attraction developed around the year of 1930, then the jockey dressed like palace soldiers. They were barefoot, wore head dress, a scarf, a vest, and trousers with a sword wrapped in checkered patterned cloth in the waist. Because the jockey got dirty after the mekepung in the muddy rice field, then they moved the attraction to the soil road near the rice field.

This developed in the year around 1960, and they formed two adverse mekepung groups. The one is called group “Ijo Gading Timur” with a red flag and the other group is named “Ijo Gading Barat” which chose green flag. Ijo Gading is the name of the river dividing the town of Negara, the capital of the Jembrana district. “Timur” means east and “Barat” means west. So the group “Ijo Gading Timur” means the group located in the east side of the river Ijo Gading, whereas the group “Ijo Gading Barat” means the group residing in the west side of the same river. Each group is fiercely defending the honor and the reputation of its own region.

They do not use lampit plough anymore, but a mini carriage decorated with

beautiful carving. The jockey dresses in a traditional uniform, a batik head

dress, long sleeve shirt, a vest, and a pair of trousers.

Each group has 100 pairs of water buffalos, each of which has a unique name

such as Batu Api, Emak Lampir, Hanoman, Gerandong, Nini Pelet, Raden Bentar, Sembara, Kalagondang, etc. These names are taken from legends made popular by tv films.

The race is held on a circuit similar to wet rice field. All cows on the track are beautifully decorated in pairs. They are yoked to one another by the neck with a piece of wood or bamboo.

For farmers, cattle are everything. They are partners to plow the field. But today they have a different purpose. There are about 30 pairs of ox with cart. They headed of on a time trail over a 2km course. I never saw bulls go so fast. So fast it is said, they can do 100m in 9 seconds which is faster than man. They headed off in pairs with an interval of 30 seconds between them and the next group of two. They all went in the same direction and came back home at the end of the same road they left.

It was a site but the bulls were severely whipped by the jockey. It took about 15 minutes for them to return. Most of the bulls were bloody but OK. One cart went off the track and it looked like one bull had a broken leg. I hope to catch a full race in Java soon. Full 2003 and 2004 schedules of Mekepung are available here.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Negara – Bali – Indonesia – Mekepung (14-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Negara – Bali – Indonesia – Mekepung (14-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Negara – Bali – Indonesia – Mekepung (14-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Negara – Bali – Indonesia – Mekepung (14-09-2003)

It was 9.00am now and the owner who waited drove me back to the hotel where I had breakfast. It was two toasted sandwiches and a hard boiled egg. I checked out and walked to the station. It was about an hour to the ferry port called Gilmanuk that would take me to Java. I got there with no hassle and spoke to the bus conductor who was cool and gave me good advice. It was only 5000 IR for the hour journey to Gilimanuk.

I walked the two km from the town to the ferry port. I do not know why as a moto taxi was only 2000 IR. Many people on the route gave me directions. Ferries go across every 30 minutes, 24/7. The price was 3,300 IR. It was an OK journey but I did not go on deck as I had to watch my bags. It was quite full of cars, trucks and motor cycles. Smoking is allowed so it was stuffy and dirty. Anyway it took about an hour to get across.

There was a guy on a moto who wanted 10,000 IR to go to the bus terminal. I said no and he said OK, 2,000 IR without losing a second. It took 6 minutes. I checked out bus timetables for tomorrow as I wanted to visit Banyuwangi and also Ijen Volcano tomorrow. I got a Beano mini bus and it took me Banyuwangi. This was farther away than I thought. It took about 30 minutes. The driver had no idea (neither did I) where I wanted to go. I said my worst poorest Indonesian I wanted a guesthouse in Banyuwangi.

That was fine and he dropped in front of the Pinany Sari (JL. Basuki Rachmat 116). It was fine although their basic room at 27,500 IR were all gone. Had to take one with TV and it cost 50,000 IR (5.30 Euro). I watched dome Formula 1 in English but all the other channels had Bollywood musicals on. A lot of their stuff here on TV is Indian made.

I walked down town. This was worse than Negara. Everyone made a point of saying Hello and looking for reaction. I soon got sick of me and grunted. I know, I know but every 10 yards. I must have said hello back about 200 times. I know if I said hello to someone and they ignored me, I would be pissed, so try my best.

This is the first time I have been in a mainly Muslim country. I have been to secular turkey but this is different. You notice the massive differences with Bali straight away. All the women wear head shawls, men with hats. There are two soaring Muslim Shrine Domes on the main street and prayers are spoken out via the loud speaker the whole time. The primary school kids all wear white and the girls are covered head to foot in a shawl. Very different.

I head out to eat a lot here. I have grown to like SATE KAMBING. Basically lamb meat on skewers soaked on a peanut sauce. Very nice with plain rice. I also like the old iced tea here. It goes down a treat in this sweaty weather. You can all the above plus soup for about 10,000 IR.

I also found a great NET cafe for access for about 100 IR a minute. A bargain. I checked out how to get to Ijen tomorrow. The hotel staff say I need to rent a car as no motor bike will take me there. I check on the NET. Very little information is available as its not a tourist attraction and not in my guide book. I saw a snippet on it in the Bali Advertiser newspaper. It mentioned a old fashioned Mining operation there.

This is part of the article I saw that has inspired me to visit.

Ijen is the village where the famous sulfur mine is located. On the Eastern tip of Java, this sulfur mine and its deadly acid lake seem to be an extraordinary place to visit. I heard of legends, of couples going to visit and the husband coming back alone free of the wife he discretely pushed in the acid lake. Quite efficient and very discreet indeed, this method of murder would be very efficient for in the clouds of sulfur smoke,nobody can see the act nor see further than the end of their nose!! Seriously, the sulfur mine sounds quite impressive. I heard that you can go down to the lake and completely loose your bearings when clouds of smoke envelop you. It seems the best thing to do is not panic and wait for the cloud to pass before you continue. Then again, if you slip and fall down towards the lake, I guess a stick would be a good tool to have at hand to try and break or slow your fall and avoid the lake.

If you can take the strong sulfur smell and also bear to see the barefoot workers carry their 70 kilos load up the hill, youll have one of the most interesting visits of your travels through Indonesia. Aside from the fact those people are slowly killing themselves with the hard work and damage to their lungs, it is said that meeting the workers is one of the interesting parts of the visit. Impressive by the fact they will die at a young age with curved legs and also impressive for the mere Rp. 15,000 or so they will collect for their long and hard climb with the heavy load of sulfur.

Enough of that for now. I had two beers in the local hotel restaurant and heading off to bed early. I set my alarm clock for 6.00am. By the way, I see on the wires that eight tourists have been kidnapped in Colombia.

Thousands of troops backed by Black Hawk helicopters were headed to the snowcapped mountains of northern Colombia to hunt for eight foreign tourists kidnapped by leftist rebels, authorities said.

The four Israelis, two Britons, a German and a Spaniard were taken late Friday near archaeological ruins high in the Sierra Nevada, about 465 miles north of the capital, Bogota, Gen. Luis Alfredo Rodriguez, head of Colombia’s police operations.

Saturday, September 13th, 2003 – Day 207

Saturday, September 13th, 2003 – Day 207

I was up at 8.00am and had a cup of tea. It was a three stage journey to Negara. I had to get a brown beano (public transport mini-bus) to Batubtilan. This was easy and it was ready outside the local market. The price was 5,000 IR. Usually they jack up prices for foreigners but I had checked it with a local. It took an hour.

I then transferred at Batubtilan for Ubung. I was overcharged. It should be 3,000 IR but I paid 5,000 IR. No big deal. We had to wait 40 minutes before it filled up. It was very hot and stuffy. It took only 25 minutes. I then walked to the local bus station and paid 20,000 IR for the 3 hour journey to Negara. It was a fairly pleasant journey on a big bus but half of the people were smoking. I got there around 1.00pm.

It is a small town and only one hotel is available called the Wari. Its really a one street town and I walked the 15 minutes from the bus station to the hotel. It was 65,000 IR for their most basic room. I booked in and walked around. It was stuffy and hot and my room only had a tiny electric fan that plugged into a socket.

Negara in West Bali is the capital of Jembrana district, and the home of

the famous buffalo races, which run between July and October.

It was a quite boring day. There is little to do in the town. I was there for a bull race that the tourist office in Ubud mentioned. When I got here, it turns out that there is no practice here tomorrow and the next races will not be held until September 21st.

They get few tourists in this town. They were only 2 restaurants on the main street and no bars etc. I spend the day saying Hello to people. Every 20 yards, someone would say Hello Mister, Hello etc. Due to my good upbringing :), I had to respond with a Hello. It was OK at first but you soon get fed up with it.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Negara – look how strong we are (13-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Negara – kids (13-09-2003)

I walked around quite a lot. It was nice to see the horse and cart taxis and there is a major indoor market here as well. Too many HELLOS drove me out.

I ate in a local restaurant. I got chicken curry and rice for 5,000 IR. I had Dinner in the hotel restaurant. I had fried chicken for a change and a beer. Full meal came to 25,000 IR. I spoke with the hotel owner for a while. He said the practice was on at 8.00am tomorrow and he would drive me out there at 7.20am. I agreed. Nice guy!

Friday, September 12th, 2003 – Day 206

Friday, September 12th, 2003 – Day 206

It rained very heavily all night last night. It was hard to sleep. I decided to ahve a lonmg lie in and not travel on today. I stayed in bed until noon, the longest I have ramined in bed for a long time. There is not much point walking around in this weather. i spent another hour on my porch drinking tea deciding where to go next. When i was on the NET last night I checked out the weather. It was to reamin cloudy and showery all wekk. I was going to head east to a quite beach area and ten a mountain area before heading back but I decided to head Negara instead. This is on-route to Java where Jakarta is located.

I decided to walk around town. In every temple here you see many swastika symbols. Indeed I saw a few in the main Cathedral in christchurch, New Zealand. For Buddhists and Hindus here in Bali, the swastika is a very religious symbol that is commonly used.

The History of the Swastika

The Oldest Known Symbol

The swastika is an ancient symbol. Dating back 3,000 years, the swastika predates the ancient Egyptian symbol, the Ankh. Approximately 3,000 years ago (1000 BCE), the swastika was commonly used; swastikas have been found on many artifacts such as pottery and coins dating from ancient Troy.

During the following thousand years, the image of the swastika could be found in many cultures around the world, including in China, Japan, India, and southern Europe.

By the Middle Ages, the swastika was a well known, if not commonly used, symbol but was called by many different names:

China – wan

England – fylfot

Germany – Hakenkreuz

Greece – tetraskelion and gammadion

India – swastika

Though it is not known for exactly how long, Native Americans also had long used the symbol of the swastika.

The Original Meaning

The word “swastika” comes from the Sanskrit svastika – “su” meaning “good,” “asti” meaning “to be,” and “ka” as a suffix. Until the Nazis used this symbol, the swastika was used by many cultures throughout the past 3,000 years to represent life, sun, power, strength, and good luck.

Even in the early twentieth century, the swastika was still a symbol with positive connotations. For instance, the swastika was a common decoration that often adorned cigarette cases, postcards, coins, and buildings. During World War I, the swastika could even be found on the shoulder patches of the American 45th Division and on the Finnish air force until after World War II.

Change in Meaning

In the 1800s, countries around Germany were growing much larger, forming empires; yet Germany was not a unified country until 1871. To counter the feeling of vulnerability and the stigma of youth, German nationalists in the mid-nineteenth century began to use the swastika, because it had ancient Aryan/Indian origins, to represent a long Germanic/Aryan history.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the swastika could be found on nationalist German volkisch periodicals and was the official emblem of the German Gymnasts’ League.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the swastika was a common symbol of German nationalism and could be found in a multitude of places such as the emblem for the Wandervogel, a German youth movement; on Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels’ antisemitic periodical Ostara; on various Freikorps units; and as an emblem of the Thule Society.

Hitler and the Nazis

In 1920, Adolf Hitler decided that the Nazi Party needed its own insignia and flag. For Hitler, the new flag had to be “a symbol of our own struggle” as well as “highly effective as a poster.” (Mein Kampf, pg. 495) On August 7, 1920, at the Salzburg Congress, this flag became the official emblem of the Nazi Party.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler described the Nazis’ new flag: “In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic.” (pg. 496-497) More from here regarding this subject.

As there were showers all day, I did very little. i had meant to go on a -Lonely Planet-recommended walk to see a river and some rice terraces some 3km outside of town but the weather put me off. I went to the ATM, the tourist office, and English Book stiore etc and paid my accommodation until tomorrow. It was 180,00 IR for six nights.

It was a fine basic place called Budi Bungalows. Its in the Lonely Planet. I was the only one in the holiday compound. At least the rain shut up alot of the roosters this morning.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Various Pics from Ubud – the Kids are alright (12-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Various Pics from Ubud – the Kids are alright (12-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Various Pics from Ubud – Musicans (12-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Various Pics from Ubud – Gunung Kawi (12-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Various Pics from Ubud – Gunung Kawi (12-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Various Pics from Ubud – Gunung Kawi (12-09-2003)

I did litle tonight. I updated the blog and went to my favourite restaurant. I go to Negara tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10th, 2003 – Day 204

Wednesday, September 10th, 2003 – Day 204
Full moon tonight. I was going to join a group climbing up a mountain for sunrise but decided to do more cycling today and go an exhibition of Bali dancing (for tourists) tonight’s. There is a special Kecak dance on full moon days. The ARMA group would have open air dancing tonight at 7.00pm. The cost was 50,000 IR. It is Bali dancing without music. It is called monkey music as much of it is chanting like a Monkey and the story encompasses a Monkey Army!!

Anyway after all the cycling yesterday, my muscles had seized up (and those f*@#*&# roosters). I was up at 11.00am and stayed around town until 12.00 noon as it was raining. I had lunch and went off cling on the opposite direction from yesterday. I headed towards the river which has rice terraces climbing up from both sides. It was nice but rain showers continues and I got yet.

Bali

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Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Working away (10-09-2003)

Bali

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Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Temple (10-09-2003)

Bali

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Temple (10-09-2003)

I started heading back around 4.00pm down a side road and came across a big crows of men. Half were gambling and other half were watching cock fighting. I knew it. Why have so many of those bloody things. I watched going ons for 30 minutes. had seen cockfighting before in South America. Similar but here the extra sharp claw they put on the back of the cocks leg is very sharp. The fights in South America lasted mayvbe 10 minutes and did not usually fatally kill the bird. here, it must be razor sharp as after about 2 minutes, one animal was dead and it was cut to ribbons, with blood all over the place. Just a reminder that Bali is no paradise.

Bali

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Cock fighting (10-09-2003)

Bali

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Cock fighting (10-09-2003)

They did not mind me being there. It started raining again so I headed back.

I had a shower and headed back to the tourist office to get my free transport to the dancing which is about 15 minutes drive from the town centre.

Taken from the Hindu epic Ramayana, the dance tells the story of Prince Rama and his rescue of Princess Sita, who has been kidnapped by the evil King of Lanka. Unlike other dances, there is no gamelan orchestra accompanying it. Instead, a troupe of over 150 bare-chested men serve as the chorus, making a wondrous cacophany of synchronized “chak-achak-achak” clicking sounds while swaying their bodies and waving their hands.

Rather than the Gamelan orchestra that is typical of other Balinese dances, as well as most Southeast Asian classical dancing, in the Kecak the only music is provided by a large chorus of bare-chested men and boys sitting in a circle just in front of the audience. This choir provides a constant accompaniment to the story, and even become actors towards the end.The story is simple, and its not really necessary for you to know it to appreciate the dance. The dance depicts a sub-plot from the Hindu epic the Ramayana. In the story the wife of Rama, Sita, is kidnapped by Rama’s arch-enemy, the king of Lanka, and taken to his palace of Alengka.

In his search for Sita, Rama enlists the aid of the red monkey king Sugriwa. Together they select Hanoman, a white monkey with magical powers, to find Alengka and seek out Sita. Rama gives Hanoman his ring so that he can prove his identity to Sita when he finds her.

Hanuman shows Sita Rama’s ring. Hanoman finds Sita, gives her the ring, and attempts to destroy the palace where Sita is held, but is caught. In perhaps one of the performance’s most dramatic scenes, Hanuman is bound and placed in a ring of straw that is set on fire. The sun has set by this time, so we see the white and gold monkey dance back and forth over the burning straw, eventually kicking the sparks up into the air as he chases off his persecutors. The great general returns with his army of monkey warriors, portrayed by the choir. The bad guys are defeated. Sita is reunited with Rama. The end.

Another titbit.
The other major example of “traditional” music is the kecak, a very dramatic and visual a cappella piece featuring as many as 100 men depicting a saga of a monkey king and his warriors, featuring bursts of simian-styled chanting that gives the style its onomatopoeic name. Intriguingly, though, the kecak and to some extent the other generally seen performances are actually the invention of Westerners. In Balinese culture, where there’s no distinction between sacred and secular, there is no real tradition of performance for performance’s sake rather than for real ceremony. But in the ’30s, artist Walter Spies, living in Bali, was asked to arrange some dance performances for a visiting filmmaker, and that was accomplished by using excerpts and pastiches of the true things. As tourism grew, the demand for such things grew as well, and today they are ubiquitous.

Bali

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Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Kecak (10-09-2003)

Bali

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Kecak (10-09-2003)

More information from here.

It was OK, a nice setting with no artificial lights, just a few paraffin lights. It was dark and moody. A pity about the weather as it was an open air even. We had two big showers during the 1 hour performance. It was OK, nothing special.

Anyway I was back in town by 8.15am and headed for the temple. Another celebration there. Luckily I had the auld gear to wear. More dancing music but lots of prayers in the inner temple tonight. I would have bullshitted my way it but did not have the cheek. These people were in solemn prayer and had brought many offerings. Indeed offering are a large part of the ceremony. It seems today was the anniversary of the setting up of this temple. The other one the other day was about protecting the eco-system etc. Don’t ask me, I am just a tourist.

Bali

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Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Another Temple Celebration and Prayer (10-09-2003)

Bali

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Another Temple Celebration and Prayer (10-09-2003)

I head down town at 9.30pm to get a bite to eat. I am a favorite restaurant in goodtam street. After that I got my photos burned onto a CD-R for 25,000 IR (2.70 EURO).

I have taken more ohotos in 3 days here than a month in New Zealand and Australia. Funny that!! I was on the NET until 11.30pm. The weather was still showery.

I will go on a tour to Batur Lake tomorrow. I am to leave Ubus on Friday.

Tuesday, September 9th, 2003 – Day 203

Tuesday, September 9th, 2003 – Day 203

I saw a lot of lizards on the roof my (room) gaff last night and those bloody roosters. I am kind of getting used to it, but I was so tired, I only got up at 10.00am. Luckily enough, the owners leave a flash of tea on my porch every morning. Nice touch!

I cycled around all day from 10.00am to 5..00pm getting lost on purpose. Its great cycling down back roads with rice paddies on both sides. Everyone is so friendly here. I get asked whether I know I am going at every crossroads. Kids shout HELLO every 100 yards (there teachers must be telling them to do so), begging me to take a photo on the digital. They are overjoyed to see themselves on the LCD screen. We think we Irish are friendly but we are not a patch on the people of Bali. Even better, as most of them have most English. I had a great day cycling about. Even the dogs left me on the bike alone.

As well as just cycling I visited the following attractions on bike:

Goa Gajah/Elephant Cave

The mouth of this man-made cave doesn’t quite look like an elephant, which makes the legend that that is how it got its name suspect. In any case, Goa Gajah was built in the 11th century, probably as a type of monk’s cell. Inside the small, dark, and clammy cave are statues of Ganesha to the left (most definitely an elephant) and three phallic emblems of Siwa to the right. Outside to the left of the cave is a worn statue of a woman with children; she’s both a Balinese folk heroine and a Buddhist goddess, so Goa Gajah seems to have been both Hindu and Buddhist. There is also a large rectangular bathing area, and just beyond it, steps leading to a pretty ravine, where there are some statues of Buddha.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Elephant Cave (09-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Elephant Cave (09-09-2003)

It was 4100 IR (.44 EURO) in. It was tame stuff and missable. I decided to walk the minutes to Yeh Pulu. Many guides try to latch on to you. Ignore them. I let my bike there minded for 400 IR by a guard.

Yeh Pulu

This is one of our favorite Bali sights, a row of bas-relief carvings in a rock face. It’s pretty, simple, intriguing, and for some reason largely unvisited by tourists. You can actually walk to Yeh Pulu from Goa Gajah, but it’s through some rice paddies, and you do need one of those guides to help you find it. If you arrive by car, after paying your fee you will have a medium-length walk through a rice field, past a bathing place on the left (don’t turn in there or you may startle some naked bathers). The carvings date back at least 400 years, and while no one is exactly sure what the five panels depict, they do seem to tell the story of a hunt. Note the religious and cultural details on the figures, culminating with a statue of Ganesha. A slightly nutty older woman may bless you with holy water and ask for a donation. Go ahead and give it to her; we could all use an extra blessing.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Crazy Lady at Yeh Pulu (09-09-2003)

Yep, the crazy old lady was there throwing holy water on me from all directions. She was a bit of fun. It was 4,100 (.44 EURO) IR to get in, I tipped the old lady 2000 IR and I paid a guide 10,000 IR (1.10 EURO) to walk me around the rice paddy fields.

At about 4.30pm, I got back into town by a series of backroads. I called into about 4 different temples during the day. They are all pretty similar. It was just a question of scale. Once back in town I called into the:

Puri Saren Agung, the Royal Palace

From the late 19th century to the mid-1940s, this was the seat for the local ruler. It’s a series of elegant and well-preserved pavilions, many of them decorated incongruously with colonial-era European furniture. Visitors are welcome to stroll around, though there are no signs indicating what you are looking at, so it palls quickly. Every night, dance performances are held in the courtyard, and it is by far the best and most dramatic setting for these in Ubud. Part of the complex functions as a hotel, which for atmosphere and central location can’t be beat, but I found the staff, though not unfriendly, decidedly distracted and unhelpful.

It was late in the evening and there were not many tourists about. I enjoyed walking around. It was very plush with the best of carpets and furnishings. I met a very ugly Irish-America. Very few people annoy me but he did.

After that I had a bite to eat and headed down to a bar at 9.00pm to watch Matrix Reloaded. This is the 4th time I have seen this film and I enjoy it better each time (after hating it on first viewing). Apart from the slow 1/3 (the dreadful rave section / Council meeting), its a good film. I am looking forward to the third part of the trilogy coming out in November.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Temple (09-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Temple (09-09-2003)

I headed back at 11.30pm and had a beer on my porch while reading the current edition of NEWSWEEK. I must admit I enjoyed the read. I believe it is a better publication than TIME. I am a news junkie and read the news on the NET for an hour most days. I use Google News, BBC, Reuters, CNN and the Irish independent mainly. I also check out the Examiner and the Guardian. Still there was a depth in the stories in Newsweek that the NET can not provide.

I found this blog about Dublin nightlife.

Monday, September 8th, 2003 – Day 202

Monday, September 8th, 2003 – Day 202

I know I was waxing lyrical yesterday about now nice it was here. I still believe that but they are drawbacks. If I turn on more than 2 lights in the bungalow the electricity goes down and it reappears again about an hour later. Secondly black bits and pieces flow freely from the tap and shower. Thirdly and most importantly are the number of roosters (cocks) in this town. At about 5.00am there is a dawn chorus.

Male chickens have among their secondary sexual characteristics, pronounced combs and cheeks, raisable hackles, spurs, robust musculature and a crow. The crow is a territory thing. It lets other males in the area know that this is “my”territory and to back off unless you want a fight. Females may respond to a crow and in fact join a rooster’s recruitment group based upon his crow in addition to his hackle display, his fighting ability, and most strongly his delivery when he calls the females in with the promise of food. It is the delivery on the food promise that actually is most important for the female, although dominance over other rooster matters almost as much. Read about the behavior and watch your own. It is a most interesting soap opera.

There are hundreds of them here. I suspect that some cockfighting goes on. They make a terrible racket in the morning. Everywhere you go you see hens with a dozen chicks. Pain in the arse! Found if difficult to sleep with them going off.

Anyway I was up at around 9.00am and called into the tourist office. There was a celebration in the main temple here, called the Merajan Temple around 10.00am so I stayed around. There are as many temples here as there are pubs in Ireland. You find one in EVERY corner. They are of similar style to each other. I don’t know why they need so many.

I put on my sarong etc. and headed in. There were big crowds and some Bali dancing going on. Everything was cool and there were about 100 people playing Bali music on instruments. It was good and I enjoyed it, although I heard that a cremation was been held 1km outside of town and wanted to attend.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Temple Celebrations (08-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Temple Celebrations (08-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Temple Celebrations (08-09-2003)

I had to leave mid-way at 11.40am to get to Kuluck at 12.00 noon. I walked there and saw the cremation party ahead.

There are ceremonies for every stage of Balinese life but often the last ceremony-cremation-is the biggest. A Balinese cremation can be an amazing, spectacular, colorful, noisy and exciting event. In fact it often takes so long to organize a cremation that years have passed since the death. During that time the body is temporarily buried. Of course an auspicious day must be chosen for the cremation and since a big cremation can be very expensive business many less wealthy people may take the opportunity of joining in at a larger cremation and sending their own dead on their way at the same time. Brahmins, however, must be cremated immediately. Apart from being yet another occasion for Balinese noise and confusion it’s a fine opportunity to observe the incredible energy the Balinese put into creating real works of art which are totally ephemeral. A lot more than a body gets burnt at the cremation. The body is carried from the burial ground (or from the deceased’s home if it’s and ‘immediate’ cremation) to the cremation ground in a high, multi-tiered tower made of bamboo, paper, string, tinsel, silk, cloth, mirrors, flowers and anything else bright and colorful you can think of. The tower is carried on the shoulders of a group of men, the size of the group depending on the importance of the deceased and hence the size of the tower. The funeral of a former rajah of high priest may require hundreds of men to tote the tower.

A long the way to the cremation ground certain precautions must be taken to ensure that the deceased’s spirit does not find its way back home. Loose spirits around the house can be a real nuisance. To ensure this doesn’t happen requires getting the spirits confused as to their whereabouts, which you do by shaking the tower, running it around in circles, spinning it around, throwing water at it, generally making the trip to the cremation ground anything but a stately funeral crawl.

More information can be found here , here and here.

But as someone said, Imagine being this receptive to a total stranger at a family funeral, and you have an idea of what kind of people the Balinese are.

Cremation is the only way a soul can be freed of its earthly self and travel to its next incarnation (or to enlightenment). Death is a joyous occasion in Bali, full of floats and fanfare that can resemble a Mardi Gras parade. Complicated towers (the higher the caste, the higher the tower–limited only by power lines) hold the body, carried aloft by cheering men, who turn the tower in circles to send the spirit to heaven, then take it to the burning ground. There the body is placed in receptacles resembling fabulous creatures (winged lions, bulls and so forth, again determined by caste), and set on fire. Sometimes the body won’t burn quickly enough, and it is poked at, often mocked, to help free the spirit from its now-useless fleshy vessel and send it on its way. This is an extraordinarily beautiful and moving rite and marvelous to witness, even for Westerners whose view of death is so different from that of the Balinese. Cremations are expensive and so not as common as other ceremonies; sometimes, bodies have to be buried until such time (from a few months to many years) the family can afford the proper send-off. To share costs, they are also often group affairs. There are tours that take tourists to a cremation, which might be worth going on if it’s your only shot at seeing one, but they can be somewhat embellished for the visitors.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Cremation (08-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Cremation (08-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Cremation (08-09-2003)

I stayed here for over three hours. Its amazing to watch the cast of hundreds at work. Everybody has a part to play. Hundreds brought offerings and wee twisted around in semi circles at crossroads leading to the site. At the site itself there were amount 15 towers each ahving a hollow mythical type horse. Each tower had a priest and about 8 helpers to put the offerings in the hollowed out animals. They then spent about 30 minutes adding different flowers, herbs etc.

People were more focused on the offerings that the two bodies (I think they were buried for a few years and were dug up for a special date). They were put in between logs and there were about a dozen interested on lookers.

After a while all the 15 towers were set alight. It was quite a site and the bodies were lit and helped with gas fire. It took about 2 hours to burn everything. Then all the ashes were collected and divided. It goes on and on.

I was at the Australian Museum in Sydney a few days ago and they had a exhibit on death and how people from different parts of the world dealt with death, and what happened to the body. While 70% of people who die in the UK are cremated, only 5.6% of Irish people are.

Still amazing scenes here. It was nearly 4.00pm when I decided to head back and walk about town. I decided to hire a bike for tomorrow. It cost 12,000 IR (1.30 Euro) per day.

Sunday, September 7th, 2003 – Day 201

Sunday, September 7th, 2003 – Day 201

I was pretty lazy agin this morning. With the heat and my little ineffective fan, its hard to get yourself going. I was packed and showered by 11.0am (cold water only) and walked around town. My bus to Ubud was at 1.30pm. It a small one hour journey. it cost me 20,000 IR.

The sun-and-fun atmosphere of Kuta is fine for the Australian and New Zealand market, who invest only 3 hours and bargain basement prices on airline shuttles to the island. But for the rest of us who live around the corner from the St. Barts, Hawaii, or St. Remo, a simple beach bum holiday isn’t going to justify flying halfway around the world. And so it shouldn’t. There’s no mistaking Ubud for a rural or pastoral village, but if your aim is to expose–no, immerse–yourself in the Balinese culture, there’s no reason to go anywhere else. About the only thing it doesn’t have is a beach, but again, you can easily day-trip to Nusa Dua, Sanur, Candi Dasa, or Jimbaran for that. But I guarantee that once you arrive, you’ll kick yourself for having “wasted” your time elsewhere, and that you’ll never want to leave.

Ubud feeds the pulse of the island. It is the richest region in Bali for art production, which is possibly why so many expat artists have made their homes here. Its arteries have long ago extended beyond the boundaries of the small art community it was 75 years ago, but this commercial boom has only helped to create a surreal atmosphere of refinement and artistry. The confines of the town are just unable to contain the explosion of high quality galleries, shops, and the newest trend: spas.

Meanwhile, the locals’ commitment to spiritual life continues, and there always seems to be some ceremony or other going on. Ubud is also the closest thing going to a central Bali location; just about everything you might want to see is an easy day (or even half-day) trip from here, which makes it a good jumping-off point. It’s also got a disarming collection of some of the finest hotels in Asia, as well as some of the best and most lush scenery of any significant center on the island: phosphorescent rice paddies, virgin jungle, gorges, ravines, and river valleys. Any side street will lead you into a parallel universe of rural fantasy, a dramatic transformation from the glossy commercialism of Ubud’s main thoroughfares. It’s no wonder many non-Balinese have come here for a visit and never left.

You know what, the blurb is right. I liked this place as soon as I got off the bus. a dutch guy from the bus and I walked into town (20 minutes) and you pass numereous temples and stone statue carvers. We checked out a few places until I decided on a quite bungalow place.

Its very quiet and peaceful. I get my own large bungalow bamboo apartment for 30,000 IR per night, Great value when you get an ensuite room plus a patio.

I did some shopping for my temple visits. To aviod offense a guy needs to buy a sarong (yes, I bought one – very David Beckham), a scarf for the wait and one of the head (the whole set up including 2 head scarfs, a waist scarf and a sarong (bottom entry kind) cost 65,000 IR).

The amount of goods available can be overwhelming, particularly since many carry nearly identical items. Before buying anything, you might want to check out the Ubud Market, at the southeast corner of Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raya Ubud (open during daylight hours). It’s a real market, great noisy fun, with dozens of stalls selling goods intended for locals (check these out for bargains), produce, livestock, and the like, among the tourist kitsch. This is a good place to pick up a sarong and sash, if you haven’t yet, or to start working on a more climate-appropriate wardrobe. It also functions somewhat as a wholesale market–many of the stores buy their goods here. Bargaining can be a bit tougher here, owing to some really hard-nosed (but often quite charming) lady proprietors. You might well get better prices elsewhere, but at least you can get an idea of what to pay. If you arrive first thing in the morning you can try some of the snacks the ladies bring to sell.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Dancing Queens (07-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Dancing Queens (07-09-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Ubud – Bali – Indonesia – Dancing Queens (07-09-2003)

Just a post note. When i was sitting out in my porch / Patio with no city lights or traffic noise Having a beer, I said to myself – this is why I am travelling. If you have been following my blog, I only have such a feeling a few times.

I am really ahppy to be in Ubud. Forget about Kuta, its a mess. If you want to expereince Bali, get into the interior. With my Bamboo bungalow behind me and the large ceiling fan with kids passing by, I have to say that yes, its great to be here. I am going to stay here 4 or five days to kick back and relax. i am not a beach person and I enjoy rural scenery far better.

Article here on racism in New Zealand.

Here you will find a site about Kuta and a festival starting on the 11th of September ending on the Bali bomb Anniversery on October 12th. its a festival of remberance. Check it out.

Friday, September 5th, 2003 – Day 199 to Sunday, September 6th, 2003 – Day 200

Friday, September 5th, 2003 – Day 199

I was up at 7.00am and got ready. I said my goodbyes to Steve and Tara and got a bus to central. I then caught the Airport train (11.80 AUS) and checked in. Its a nice airport and time went quickly. My Australan Airlines flight to bali was at 10.15am. It was a five hour fourty minute flight.

It ws the same type of plane as my Christchurch to Melbourne flight. the service and good was good but with one movie screen for the wwhole plane is a joke. i was about 40 rows away from it. they showed Bruce Almightly. Pretty preticable. i was luckly that i had three centre seats to myself. i could sit between two to watch the movie and have a lie down. They also showed Finding Nemo. Pixar continues its run of impeccable artistic and economic success (their movies include Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, Inc). good animation.

It was a OK flight and we arrived in sunny bali at 2.00pm. It seems about 10 flights arrived together and there were horendeos ques at immigration. I was there for nearly an hour. Then none of the ATMs worked in the airport and I was luckly to have a few dolalrs to change. I got a taxi into Kuta for a pre-paid amount (available from counters) for 25,000 Indonesian Rupiah (2.75 EURO). I walked around for about 20 minutes looking for a particular guesthouse but ended up without looking at it and getting the one opposite for a single room. The cost was a tiny 30,000 Indonesian Rupiah (3.30 EURO) per night.

It good to be back in South East Asia – land of mystery and frugal living. I went to bed from 4.00pm (when I got to Kuta) until 8.00pm. I was tired. No air-con in the room, just a fan.

But Bali is special. On the 12th of October 2002 bombs exploded the peacefulness of the island. Set off in Legian, Kuta, amidst the popular clubs of Sari Club and Paddy’s, resulting in at least 180 deaths (by 1pm 13 Oct 2002).

From Sydney Morning Herald

Both nightclubs were bursting at the seams. Hot, sweaty, noisy, they pulsated with a frantic life force. Mostly, they were young, single Australians on the make, in beautiful and sensuous Bali for a blowout.

None of the patrons blasting Saturday night into oblivion at the Sari or Paddy’s Irish Pub, the two most popular nightspots along the raunchy Jalan Legian, could have had a hint of the disaster about to befall them.

This was Kuta, playground of Denpasar, a place where the excesses were alcoholic and sexual and entirely permitted.

At Sari’s, aka SCs, the most popular drink was the local Bintang beer, served in huge bongs. With a high thatched roof which let in the rain, it had an uneasy Balinese touch, out of step with the modern beat. It also had the distinction of refusing entry to locals.

Paddy’s was directly across the JL Legian, the city’s busiest entertainment strip, lined with bars and clubs and small shops catering to tourists. A two-storey structure described as a “cross between a Gilligan’s Island hut and a Smurf village house”, it showcased bottle-juggling bartenders, a classic rock band downstairs and techno groove in the huge upstairs room.

After 11 on Saturday night, both bars were full to bursting. Among drinkers at the Sari Club were Australian Rules football teams from Melbourne, Geelong, Perth and Adelaide on season-end trips.

Twenty-five players from the Platypi Rugby Union club from Forbes in western NSW had arrived in Bali only eight hours earlier, checked into their hotel and gone straight to the famous bar.

“I reckon the place had 300 people in there and probably 250 were Australians,” said Simon Quayle, coach of the Kingsley Football Club in Perth, who was there with 19 fellow members. Twenty players from Sturt Football club in Adelaide were also in the bar.

Patrons coming late were unable to get in. They were the lucky ones.

About 11.20am, a car parked outside Paddy’s exploded, blowing up in the front of the bar. A few moments later, a second blast, described as much bigger, tore open Sari’s

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kuta – Bali – Indonesia – T-Shirt on the railings leadings to the bombed Sari Club (05-09-2003)

See Indo Bali and this guardian newspaer Spewcial.

Bali bombing victims by nationality

During the night I went to the newly reopened Paddy’s Bar which was destroued in the Bali bombing (it reopned last month) and Bounty Ship .

Here’s where the tourists go to get ship-faced–it’s built to look like a galleon, with a restaurant on the “deck” and a dance club below in the “hull,” housing a bar and dance floor, with live bands some nights and deejays others. If it sounds cheesy, well, it is. But the club gets lively, with a young crowd. And on Tuesdays you can walk the plank. They’ve got a mini-bungee set-up from a board overhanging the dance floor.

I also went to a bar which was showing a pirate version of American Wedding on a giant TV screen.

The palces were busy but not bustling or full. Went back to my guesthouse around 2.00pm.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kuta – Bali – Indonesia – The Swastika are on most temples here (05-09-2003)

Saturday, September 6th, 2003 – Day 200

Intrepid travelers arriving at Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai Airport information booth looking for directions are systematically shooed off to Kuta. (After all, isn’t everyone going there?) If you’re young, brave, and a die-hard “yahoo” (Australian for face-painter), then maybe you’ll understand why the little seaside town of Kuta burgeoned into an indistinguishable string of seaside municipalities that host one massive and rowdy party. Australian rugby players love it. But hearty middle-aged English couples murmur words like “trash” and “worthless” when describing their experience in Kuta.

You’re probably thinking “Can it be as bad as all that?” Well, it’s not for nothing that the hotels are consistently full. As a rule, I myself try never to stay within a 1 kilometer radius of a McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Dunkin Donuts. But some people enjoy being in the thick of the action. It’s a quick 10 minutes from the airport, especially convenient for Australians in for a quickie weekend in the tropics. Some even maintain a loyal following of beach locals for things like toenail painting, massages, and gifts, resulting in other potential scavengers keeping a respectable distance. But still, Kuta is made up of narrow streets and alleys, with pedestrians crammed between honking, muffler-less cars and motorbikes and some of the most aggressive touts on the island.

The best compromise of all, short of staying elsewhere on the island, is to follow the flow of tourism out of the eye of the hurricane. The beaches just north of Kuta Beach are actually quite nice, namely, the quieter shores of Legian and the downright upscale sands of Seminyak. Some of the best dining on the island is located here as well.

I only got up at 12.00 noon. There are really only two or three busy nightlife places in Kuta and many are full of Japanesse and Bali cowboys. It pretty funny but every second girl here is with a bali boy. Many of these girls (women) are from their 40’s to their 60’s!!! These guys are all over the place trying everything that moves. This site has a 5 page article on them.

You won’t find many cowboys in Southeast Asia. But on one small stretch of beach they have become famous. If you’re a woman in Bali on your own, you can expect to meet a “cowboy.” The Kuta Cowboys don’t like that “G” word – gigolo. They’d rather be your boyfriend, your lover, your companion, or whatever. That’s where the scam begins; marketing is half the reason they don’t like the word “gigolo”.

Kuta’s cowboys think that they have figured out what women want. Kuta Beach on the southern coast of Bali has them for you. Lots of them…

The Bali Coast

Judging from the stories available, a female traveling alone in Bali will probably be “hit on” at least a few times a day. And if she simply goes to Kuta Beach, picks a spot and stretches out in the sun, someone will propose marriage before the day is out. These young “cowboys” of Kuta come by offering free samples of conversation, then selling romance at bargain prices, and soon afterwards selling themselves (in whatever sense you wish to take that).

Be forewarned: it is very much a marketing ploy. And you are probably more of a sucker than a customer in their eyes.

Age seems to be irrelevant; if anything, girls in the 18 to 25 age bracket are neglected a little in favor of women who may have more resources, or be more emotionally vulnerable.

In a 1996 article on Kuta’s boys, author Denise Dowling relays this story:

“Sally is a married 36-year-old nurse from Queensland who brought her teenage daughter to Bali as a graduation present. She and the daughter were at a local disco one night when the singer came over and sat with them after a set. She thought the 26-year-old musician was after her daughter until he invited her to his room that night.”

Six months later Sally had dumped her husband and spent over $7000 on a relationship with this Balinese boy. She’d brought him to Australia and was still living with him.

The cowboys of Kuta will spend your money and rearrange your life in a hurry if you let them.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Kuta – Bali – Indonesia – Temple in Kuta (06-09-2003)

Last night was OK. you get a funny mix of people. Japanesee guys and girls cutting lose is pretty funny. They guys colot r their hair red and spike it. there nothing as fuuny as seeing a spiky haored Japanese guy. Lots of tanned surfers and hard drinking rugby players. Speaking of rugny, I watched Ireland play Scotland on the big screen. Ireland won 29-10. I could not anyplace that was showing the Ireland V Russia soccer game. I had a few drinks and headed back early. Iam tiring of Kutas hustle and bustel, too many tourists. Its just like the sun resorts in Europe that i do not care for.

I have not been tanning myself on a beach for 15 years (when i was a child with my parents). it think its a futile waste of time and vain in its utmost. i ahve gone on one sun holiday (drinking holiday) to Kusadesi in turkey. i think we saw the beach for 20 minutes.

I dont really like Kuta. Its too brash and has too many bottom entry sun tourists. With everybody you pass asking whether you want transport, weed, a girl etc. It ruins the experience. I like the fact that when you take side roads you get to see a better side of Kuta with people making offereings in front of their shop and offereings at street corners, but there are better places in Bali to to and see this. If you are here for a week and want to get pissed (althought they do it in a civilised way here, the Brits do it the proper way in the Greek Islands) then come here, but you will learn nothing about Bali.