Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Although the place we ate dinner left everything to be desired (really, how bland can veg curry and nasi goreng be?! We found out....), it was in a great location for the Ngrupuk parade. This link explains the ogoh-ogoh. An American woman who is staying at our hotel said that she kept expecting to see a Trump ogoh-ogoh in the parade -- a sentiment we of course agree with.

Most of the ogoh-ogoh were waiting in the big soccer field. Nothing happened until dark.

this one had blue and red lights in its eyes and mouth

never did figure out how this one held that position

this one was scary -- and note, they all have belly buttons which means they are born creatures

parasols waiting too.
So once it got dark, the big parade started. Each ogoh-ogoh is on a large bamboo framework that's held up by a dozen or more people. Some are held entirely by kids. Some of the ogoh-ogoh were short, but some were so tall that men ran ahead with very long bamboo poles and lifted the power lines away so the ogoh-ogoh could pass underneath them.

The whole crowd on the street stopped and kind of held its breath as the power line was lifted
out of the way. Sometimes the ogoh-ogoh would inch forward and tug against the line anyway.
Often the people carrying the ogoh-ogoh would move in a coordinated way, side to side, forward and backward, a kind of circle, to make the ogoh-ogoh seem alive and more menacing. Between the movement, the loud drums and the gamelan, and the torches, it was perfectly alive and we felt thrilled to see it.

And the ones carried by little kids were adorable, for any of a dozen reasons:

Little girls with pretend headdresses

really little ones getting an assist from the dads.....

or stopping for a little break, or.....
pausing for juice



We walked back in the dark, with flashlights the hotel had given us, and when we got to our little village the ogoh-ogoh ceremony was just getting underway. It was actually much more fun than the one in Ubud.

village girls carrying the torches....
The village men carried this enormous ogoh-ogoh.....

and the young men, who decorated their bodies with paint in so many ways, carried this scary red-eyed monster.

We're still in the severe jetlag phase, so we got back to our room and crashed hard. We have a large gecko in our room (good luck, apparently), but the thing did its barking noise all night, and combined with the frog symphony in the rice field, I was awake and not all that happy to be surrounded by quite so much nature.

Today is Silent Day, so we hung out at the pool, ate a variety of unsatisfactory mini-meals, and I got caught up on pictures and posts. Tomorrow morning we fly to Lombok, so this little mini-Ubud trip is short but potent. We really loved the ogoh-ogoh parade, and all the noise and light and excitement of it. Bali is magical and for me especially, it exerts a powerful tug on my heart. If you could only use one word to describe Bali I would have to pick fecund, all lush and moist and bursting and tropical, and lingams and penises and blossoming women at every stage of life. Art everywhere, decorations everywhere, decorations on top of decorations on the art, and smiling people. I'd come back here in a heartbeat.

Nyepi (eve) and Alam Jiwa

When we were on Bali before, in May of 2013, we stayed at Alam Jiwa -- a really lovely little hotel in a village just outside Ubud, on the other side of the Sacred Monkey Forest. We love this place, and I especially have been dreaming about it ever since we left. We got the same room we had last time, but only for one night; the next two nights we moved upstairs and had a beautiful view of the rice fields and a volcano.

So we checked in and got a somewhat clearer picture of this "island shuts down" day. It turns out that we're here for Nyepi, which is their New Year's Day, and it's taken in silence. Indeed no airplanes fly, no cars drive, no machines are operated, and people stay indoors -- even tourists.

The young man who checked us in told us, with a huge smile, how lucky we are to be here for Nyepi, for Silent Day. We didn't feel all that lucky, since we had just such a little bit of time here and Marc had found a few restaurants we were interested in, but here we are, so silent we would be.

But the day before Nyepi is a very big thing. Each village creates these giant monstrous effigies and carries them through the village after dark, accompanied by loud music and people carrying torches. We read that the effigies are burned after the parade (though we didn't see this ourselves). So our first day we just kind of relaxed a bit, walked around the gorgeous grounds of our hotel, and headed out to find dinner before we crashed. The place Marc had found for our first night wasn't open (and we never could get very clear information about the timing of all Nyepi-related things), but luckily there was a little Indian restaurant right near our hotel.

better Indian food than we ever had in India! (But that's not too hard....)

a limited menu, and I liked the drawing of the two different thalis -- a guide to your plate!

So we crashed, slept mostly hard as you do the first crazy night when you're lost in time and space, and the next morning we were ready for our only full and out-and-about day in Ubud.

I have daydreamed about these banana coconut pancakes for four years.

super happy to be here. Just so happy.
So we had to exchange some money, and we wanted to walk around and see Ubud, which took us once again through the Sacred Monkey Forest. We learned our lesson last time about not having any food on us (anywhere, even a small amount, even tucked away, because the monkeys will know you have it and not stop until they get it).

so happy to be here again. So happy.

The monkey cemetery, which is next to the crematorium. If cremated, why such big graves?

It's so lush and humid here, moss grows on everything.

dragon bridge

fabulous carvings

DO NOT LOOK THE MONKEYS IN THE EYE. The place belongs to them.

Everything gets a cloth drape, including trees and lingam.

don't climb on the lizard

monkey statues, too

So humid and lush, unbelievable really.

Take care of your stuff, or the monkeys will take care of it for you. FOR REAL THEY WILL.
When we got into Ubud, we saw a lot of stuff happening at the temple. As usual, and typical for us, we travel like small children, witnessing things without really knowing what's going on.

This decorated pig head was in front of the men who were leading the prayer service. No idea.

Some people sat outside the temple, on the street.....

But most sat inside the temple. And a great many were staring at their cell phones. Some things are universal I guess.

It was a real scene, with a couple different kinds of cops and security.
So many women wore this brilliant shade of orange, and you can't go into the temple unless you have a sash.
Look at how beautiful she is compared to the tourists.

When we got back to the hotel, our bags had been moved to our new room, upstairs from the old one. It is really beautiful, and with an exceptional view of the rice fields, which we never could see from downstairs, and a volcano.

this is the open air shower in our second room -- 

and our gorgeous view! That volcano, wow.
The grounds of the hotel -- and the streets of Ubud -- are so beautiful. It's quite something being in a place where offerings are made and left before every doorway, tucked into every corner, and at the foot of all the statues.

on the hotel grounds -- flowers tucked everywhere

and cloth draping everything too

and lush tropical flowers EVERYWHERE

beautiful water lilies

and hibiscus-ed monkeys

lotus blossoms at all stages of bloom

and orchids hanging and dripping off of every possible height

restaurant openings can be lush and beautiful

a collage of offerings outside our room

this gorgeous school has dance performances in the evening -- too bad we couldn't see one

for a place as fecund as Bali, the statues of women at all ages make perfect sense

all doors are decorated so beautifully

and moss covers everything
We had planned to go to a restaurant out in a rice field, but with the pre-Nyepi festivities, and hotel employees needing to be in their villages to participate in the ogoh-ogoh parades, the car situation wasn't ideal. So we decided to walk back into Ubud, see what we could see with the parade, and find a place to eat dinner. That deserves its own post.