Letters from the Bali (Final Episode – Volume 5)
I finally reached the last destination on my itinerary, Bali. This is an island full of beautiful people that live for their gods. Ceremonies take place all over this island several times a day, some are for show but most of them are deeply sacred to the Balinese people. Wanting to experience all the mysticism I had been reading about I headed for the spiritual hub of Bali, Ubud.
Ubud is a wonderland of musical and dance performances that showcase the traditions and worship of their many gods. I settled into a beautiful little inn called Matahari Cottages that really set the tone for my stay in Ubud. Matahari consists of eight themed rooms, I chose the Batavian princess cottage that was decorated to make anyone feel like royalty.
Every morning a breakfast of fresh fruits, tea and eggs benedict was served to me in bed or on my veranda and every afternoon the guest joined for high tea that was an over the top assortment of sandwiches, coffee, cakes, pastries and Turkish delight all served on beautiful silver. The staff would wash your hands with rose water and dry them with white silk. This place alone was so peaceful and also centrally located to everything I wanted to see here.
The first performance I went to see was at the Ubud Water Palace. Each dance tells a story by the graceful movements of the performers, one told of a warrior preparing for battle,going from quiet observation to readiness for battle while another told of a lion with movements that exhibited strength, dominance and power as the king of the jungle guards his domain. The following day I attended a shadow puppet performance that was unlike anything I had ever seen. The puppets had been fashioned out of leather and they were placed behind a curtain illuminated by a candle, all the puppets were operated by a single puppeteer and a helper who would hand him the puppets as needed. Every performance I attended did hold a bit of the magic I had sought out in this peaceful paradise.
After Ubud I packed my things and headed to Seminyak, a town on the coast near Kuta, the party area. Seminyak didn’t have a lot to offer outside of shopping but I did happen upon a truly special cremation ceremony.
Cremations typically take place once a year as it costs so much to perform one, but this was an auspicious day for the ceremony so two people of higher society were cremated on this day. I had been walking the streets in Seminyak when I saw a long procession of people celebrating and carrying two golden caskets. I followed the group into a field were a roaring fire was placed in the center and I found a seat in the grass, from here I watched as the two bodies were raised into the flames and covered with a metal sheet, three family members stoked the coals to keep a bit of the body intact as everyone danced and sang to help celebrate the bodies release of the soul as well as to confuse any evil spirits that surrounded the person while they were on earth. It was exactly what I needed as it allowed me to have peace with my loss as well.
My final day in Bali I went dive walking at the bottom of the sea and saw so many beautiful fishes as well as some gorgeous corals; afterward, I saw the most gorgeous sunset in all of Asia, I sat on the beach relaxing as the sun dipped into the Indian Ocean. My moment of tranquility was interrupted by the sound of a chainsaw; I turned around to see people bungee jumping with motorcycles and decided it was time to go.
My return flight was a bit of a nightmare with all the delays and the culture shock of returning back to western society but I finally made it back to my little island, Tybee at last. One of the greatest things about travelling is coming home…especially when your home is Tybee. Not many things change here so it makes it pretty easy to get back into your routine. I’m back at work now and have plenty more stories to tell as well as a heap of photos to share so swing by Gaynas and I’ll tell you all about them.
Until the next trip…
Your Roving Reporter – Signing Off,
All photos by Scarlett Bailes.