Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Indonesia, Bali (Uluwatu)

I've decided to write a separate post on Uluwatu Temple because it deserves a special mention. I especially love the breathtaking scenery before me and it's not so much about the temple actually. 

Climbing up the cliff at Uluwatu is quite a task to some, but we could hear the waves crashing on the rocks below and we could watch the sun set on the horizon. Exceptionally splendid. I feel like I'm in a special place, in touch with nature, and it feels so good.

See that black, multi-tiered roof structure at the tip? That's the Uluwatu temple. It's also known as the sea temple. Built in the 10th century, it's purpose is to appease the sea deities so that the mainland could be protected. There are in fact two sea temples in Bali that I know of; the other is the Tanah Lot Temple.

We walked all the way along the edge of the cliff, right to the end. It was quite scary to walk at the edges because there's no fence to prevent your fall into the rolling waves. The white foam after it pounded the rocky shoreline was deceptively welcoming; the salty air blowing from the sea, however, was totally refreshing.

These are some corns left on the trays for the wild monkeys in the area. The monkeys were known to steal food or snatch things from visitors so we were quite wary of them. I was extra protective of my spectacles after a tourist's sunglasses was snatched off from her face. One of the guards had to cajole the naughty monkey with a corn to get it back. 

After the climb, we went to watch the Kecak Dance, which was another highlight of our visit here. We paid 100,000 rupiah each.

When we reached the open theater, a large number of people were already seated. We chose the middle seats and were pleased with the idea of an open theater. It was a perfect spot to witness the sunset. 

A priest could be seen conducting an offering at the 'candi bentar' or the split gate before the dance started. 

And then he lit up the flames on this black structure and prayed in front of it. I'm not sure why he did that, but it does not surprise me anymore if he's trying to appease the spirits connected to the totem because that's the way of the Balinese. Their lives were always centered towards appeasing their gods and the spirits. 

An open mind is really needed if anyone wants to appreciate a culture that is very different and unique. Sometimes, people do not understand this and it's kind of disappointing when they start to ridicule another culture. When you judge others, it does not define who they are; it defines who you are. That's how I feel about people who place their importance above anyone else.

Anyway, I waited in excitement and the dancers finally made their grand entrance with loud chanting. The theater was so full of energy as soon as these men moved into the stage. 

The totem seems to be an important feature of worship. In harmony, they chanted the 'cak' chorus in a trance manner and sat around the totem in tight circles. I simply couldn't keep my smile off when Jas whispered to me that this is the Balinese a cappella.

After getting the blessings from the priest, the epic love story between Rama and Sita began. 

It was a moving and entertaining story. I'm not sure how to explain but as night falls, the glowing lights which cast long shadows on the performers enhanced the atmosphere further. There was even a comic relief in the middle of the performance when a performer sat and interacted with the spectators. 

The performance finished off with the good prevailing over evil. It was a splendid ending and I didn't realise that time passes by very fast. 

It was already 9 pm by the time we headed back to Ubud. We definitely had loads of fun on that day. I still have one last post on Bali so stay tuned.

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