All posts tagged: Bali

Bali Bliss: Ubud

Ubud is known as the cultural centre of Bali. It is the first place I visited, and I imagine I will head straight here when I am next in Indonesia. It is a contrast of green rice fields and potholed streets, world-class restaurants and street food carts. There are galleries and temples and motorbikes screaming past – and what looks like more than a few women seeking the enlightenment of Eat, Pray, Love. Ubud does really have an energy though, for me it was an immediately calming one, as it felt all my home worries evaporate in the warm air. A feeling I would keep on this whole Balinese journey. After checking into the incredible Ibah Warwick Hotel (speaking of Eat, Pray, Love, the reason we know about this hotel is because my travel buddy Kel’s boyfriend stayed here with the cast and crew when filming the movie) we went exploring up the main street in Ubud. We stumbled on the stunning Saraswati temple, lined with a water lily pond in bloom. STAY – Sunrise …

Temples & Rice Fields: Ubud, Bali

In the colourful outskirts of Ubud, you can discover sacred temples of ancient deities, waterfalls and evergreen rice terraces, as well as smiley-eyed locals ready to sell you handmade Balinese goods – think traditional oil paintings, cotton sarongs and wood-carved Buddhas. Bali doesn’t really do ‘tours’ in the traditional sense – it’s more find a driver you trust (by booking at your hotel, taking a traveller recommendation or having your friend who speaks Bahasa suss them out on the street), hire them for a day or half day, and tell them where you want to go (and don’t forget to take suggestions, as they have all the mad local knowledge). Simple. So, on my last full day in Bali (I had a red eye flight out of Denpasar that evening), I took off with my two new Californian friends (who, funnily enough, were in Bali because one won the Price Is Right and 6 nights in Bali was one of the prizes) with our trusty driver Nyomen for a day of exploring. I had the …

Kecak fire dance, Uluwatu Temple, Bali

On a clifftop temple overlooking the southern coast of Bali, curious travellers gather at dusk to witness a ritual fire dance and chanting performance called Sanghyang that takes place over four acts. Presented at the front gate with a sash to tie our sarong, we are lead by a warm old local man along the cliffside. The Uluwatu waves roll on below. We take a front-row seat and wait with anticipation for the performance to begin. I am a tad excited as I’ve wanted to see a Kecak ceremony since witnessing this strange Balinese monkey dance in the documentary Baraka in the early 90s.   Quiet overcomes the temple as a white-robed man lights fire to a central stone carving. We can hear a growing chorus of chuck-a chuck-a chuck-a chuck-a chuck-a chuck-a as the chanters near the temple theatre. Seventy male dancers arrive through the cliffside entrance, arms raised, clucking in unison. They create a circle around the central carving and seated, they continue the trance-like incantation, arms waving left and right, then thrust …