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Balinese Dance

Kecak Ramayana (Monkey Dance)

The temple across the street from our guest house (Pura Dalem), puts on a few Balinese Dance Performances a week. Kadek's father was part of the troop; and so we decided to see what it is all about. The terrace leading to the inner temple was the stage.

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They do the performance by fire light, there are no other lights, and this makes the performance feel primitive but also etherial.

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The performance is a combination of dance and vocal music. The program states that the complex and multi layered sound of "cak cak cak" chanted by the male chorus in various rhythmic patterns is at once both the sense and soul of Kecak. This dance is mesmerizing, as the chorus sits around the fire and lift their chest up and down as they chant. As good as this description is, it does not reflect the visceral chord that resonates as you watch ...

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The story is an episode from the Ramayana Epics and the dancers move in small increments, all precise and elegant, in and out of the chorus, to dance the tale.

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Fire Dance

In the Fire Dance they create a pile of burning coconut shells and the dancer, who is in a trance and astride a "hobby horse", kicks and steps into the burning pile.

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Legong Kraton Dance

At the Ubud Palace, they also put on Balinese Dance Performances a few times a week. I especially wanted to see the Legong dance, since I saw so many references to it in Balinese Art. The first picture shown here is a gilded door at the Neha Museum of Art in Ubud. You can definitely see Grace and poise carved in to the dancer.

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The next is a painting which shows 2 Balinese dancers; notice the finger positions, and the eyes. When dancing, they often move their fingers laterally, but what is more impressive is their eye movements, the painting has captured that beautifully. What we don't see here, but is very evident in the performance, is the small movement, almost bobbles, of the head.

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And now onto the performance. Here is the venue in the courtyard of Ubud Palace. You can see the Gamelan Orchestra surrounding the stage, there are a few musicians with xylophone type instruments.

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These pictures can show only one dimension of the performance, the beautiful costumes and the dancers frozen in time; but add the other dimensions, their graceful movements and the unfamiliar but beautiful musical accompaniments ... this makes the performance magical.

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Barong

I've seen this "monster" carved on a lot of temple walls and facades. At first I thought that this was a malevolent character, but as I learned at the Barong Dance Performance, he/she is a fierce but loveable protector.
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You can see here that this character is played by 2 dancers, in fact it looks like a dragon with hair, (but don't tell Barong I said that). In the first scene, it comes out looking fierce and malevolent, but then a monkey joins the stage and is not cowered by it, and in fact plays and teases it by pulling out a bit of its hair.

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The story then goes on about an evil sorcerer and men fighting him and winning, however the parting sorcerer casts a spell on the men, putting evil into their hearts and they fight this by pointing their Krises (long knives) at their heart. The local priests try, but can not cure them... Our hero Barong, comes and heals them. [This is a very abridged version of the story, but you can find a more full story here: http://id.indo.com/culture/Barong.htm ]

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Posted by tedvanrossum 23:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Nusa Lembogan

Nusa Lembogan

I have been to a couple fancy beach resorts, but I enjoyed this, more rustic beach island, a lot more. I enjoy the people, they are genuinely happy, friendly and unpretentious. The are true Balinese. (Is happiness contageous? Maybe it is.) In this post, I will outline, in no set order, some of the things I liked about this place during my week long stay.

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The place I stayed at has 2 story bungalows, I was in the upper. They also had a great beach front with loungers in the sun & shade. There was a great view overlooking the beach, and an infinity pool you can slip into when you got hot... if you didn't want to go into the sea.

And of course I loved to watch the bikinis go by...

I liked how there were no private cars on the island, just scooters and these funny buses... It is a good thing too because the roads are hardly wide enough for 2 of these busses to pass a check other.
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I liked how there were tourists from all over the world here, Aussies of course but also Dutch, German and Chinese.
I liked that I saw, not only couples, but women traveling together without men.

In my section of the island, I saw very few souvenir shops, and many more dive and snorkel establishments.

I liked how the tidal differences between high and low tide was very pronounced.
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Also, the island has no wharves so when you arrive from the main land on the ferry, it beaches and you step into the shallow water to get off. The same if you want to go snorkeling or scuba diving. This means that there is no monopoly on these activities, and you can find multiple small boats at multiple locations for snorkeling and scuba.
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It was a great place to relax and contemplate who I am and what I want to do... and I found the answer easily,... I want to be a beach bum and lounge here for the rest of my life, enjoying the great sunsets... (just kidding...;)

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Posted by tedvanrossum 04:31 Archived in Indonesia Comments (5)

Angkor Wat: Cambodia

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat ("Capital Temple") is huge! It is the largest religious monument in the world. It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the
god Vishnu in the early 12th century, but then was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. The following pictures don't do it justice.

We, my Siem Reap travel companions (my nephew Graham and his friend Cynthia), and I hired a guide and toured the complex for a few hours. It had just finished raining, but there were a lot of tourists there anyway, this is a very big draw for the area.

Here are some pictures from just inside the exterior gates. You can see the 3 towers, but there are actually 5 towers. Our guide brought us to the spot where we can see all 5.

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Around the various temple door ways there was a lot of carvings on the lintels and door supports.

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Inside the main complex there are a number of colonnades and galleries with art works carved into the walls, depicting Hindu scenes from the Vedas. All of this was carved in sandstone, so some of the carvings have begun to weather badly.

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Centre Tower

Angkor Wat is still an active/functioning Buddhist temple with monks present, so the Centre Tower where you could normally climb for a wonderful overview of the temple complex, was closed for a religious occasion. Here is a monk giving blessings for tourists.

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As I have said, my pictures have not scratched the surface of the beauty and complexity of this temple complex. To get more info, check out the Wikipedia page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat

Posted by tedvanrossum 20:07 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap

Siem Reap feels like a "University Party Town". It has it's big draw, Angkor Wat for the intellectuals, but it also has "Pub street" and the Night Markets for the rest who just want to party!
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As you can see from the sign, beer is REALLY cheap here, (at happy hour it was 25 cents versus $2.50 in Bali). But not only do they like to drink, they also have some real exotic food. We went to this restaurant and had grilled squid, prawns and fish, and a stir fried plate of eel. The day before we had crocodile skewers and frogs legs...
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But the most fun were the food stalls in the night market. Yes, that is grilled water snake on a stick, and beside that is deep fried scorpion, and cricket. So we did it, we tried the snake... very dry and chewy... a little like chicken... no, we did not finish it. We also tried the scorpion... disgusting ... The crickets were edible.. barely... No I didn't want seconds.
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But the most fun was the "Mini-Bar". That is a Bar Cart pulled by a scooter, and he can make cocktails for $1.50. He had his own sound system and disco ball... The drinks were good!

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Posted by tedvanrossum 22:48 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

Angkor Thom

Bayon Temple

The Bayon Temple was built in the Angkor Thom complex in the 12 to 13th century. To find out more, you can follow this link to Wikipedia.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki

This was built as a Hindu Temple dedicated to Bhrama, the creator God who has 4 faces. You can see these heads clearly in the pictures below. It was later converted to be a Buddhist Temple. We didn't have a guide here, so I will let the these pictures speak for themselves.

This is the entrance to the temple... It is difficult to see anything other than just a pile of stones.

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You can also see here some decorations around the doorway.

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But if you go up to view the towers, you will find the faces of Brahma. As you can see, his face is on many towers.

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Here is the simple Buddhist alter inside.

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Ta Prohn

Ta Prohn is what a temple looks like before restoration. You can see huge trees growing from the roof, with massive roots growing down around the stone walls. You see piles of rocks that used to be walls or side wings, piled in a heap.
Some of the decoration that is still there takes on a new aura when it is just a juxtapositioned against the rubble.

This temple's claim to fame, was that it was featured in the Angela Jolie Tomb Raider film.
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Wedding Pictures

Angkor Wat and Bayon Temles are popular places to take wedding pictures. These pictures are a complex, precise process, with assistants there to ensure, not only that the hair and make up is flawless, but to also ensure that the clothes hang precisely in the correct fashion.
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Other tourists one here just to take fashion photos of themselves. Here to women dressed up in flowing gowns and took turns posing in dramatic and glamorous poses against the drab but dramatic background.
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Posted by tedvanrossum 16:32 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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