Living Your Best Death: The Bali Edition

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July 16th 2019
Published: July 16th 2019
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Mount BaturMount BaturMount Batur

As seen from our boat during the lake crossing. I climbed this mountain back in 1993.
Apart from Tana Toraja, one other place in Indonesia known for its unusual death rituals is the village of Trunyan, which is located along the shores of Lake Batur, about an hour north of Ubud. This village is unique because, unlike other Balinese who typically cremate their dead, they leave their dead out to decompose next to a sacred tree. The tree is said to mask the smell of the decomposing corpses.

I’d been to Bali four times before and I’ve always wanted to visit this site, but each time I put off going there because it was difficult and expensive to get to. This time round, with Trixie in tow, I bit the bullet and booked a trip with a local tour company.

Our driver and guide met us near our accommodation at Penestanan, and he drove us up to Penelokan, a town on the rim of the giant caldera that houses Lake Batur and Mount Batur. From there, he took the winding road into the caldera, stopped at Kedisan on the lake shore, and bought us tickets for the boat. The boat ride across the lake took about 20 minutes. Lake Batur is one of my favorite places
Trunyan CemetaryTrunyan CemetaryTrunyan Cemetary

Bamboo teepees, each one housing a corpse.
in Bali, and I enjoyed the amazing scenery as we made our way across the lake.

At end of the lake, we disembarked at a bamboo jetty and walked right up to the cemetery. The first sight that greeted us were some statues, and then the sacred tree, then a wall with skulls piled on top, and finally about nine corpses, each one housed inside a bamboo teepee. The heads and teeth of the corpses were visible, but the rest of the bodies were covered by cloths, and, in some cases, worldly goods that presumably belonged to the deceased. Rather amusingly, one teepee had a pair of crutches balanced on it. True to what has previously been reported, there was no smell. I had no idea how long the corpses had been there, but the bamboo for at least two of the teepees weren't too discolored.

After our visit, we made our way back to Kedisan, drove back up to the crater rim, and had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the brilliant scenery. We made our way back to Ubud after lunch.

Travel Tips: Our trip with Bayu Bali Tours cost US$70 per person, including transport,
Trunyan Cemetery Trunyan Cemetery Trunyan Cemetery

The sacred tree that is reputed to mask the smell of the bodies.
guide, and lunch. This was admittedly more than what I was willing to pay, but considering the difficulty in getting to Trunyan, it wasn’t bad overall. It is possible to get to Trunyan independently via public transport, but it probably would be pretty time consuming.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Trunyan CemeteryTrunyan Cemetery
Trunyan Cemetery

This bamboo teepee had crutches balanced on it. I wonder if the deceased used them.
Trunyan CemeteryTrunyan Cemetery
Trunyan Cemetery

Figures at the entrance of the cemetery.
Trunyan CemeteryTrunyan Cemetery
Trunyan Cemetery

The bamboo teepees.
Trunyan VillageTrunyan Village
Trunyan Village

The village itself was a short distance from the cemetery. In the foreground are fish farms. The village is only accessible by boat.
Lake BaturLake Batur
Lake Batur

As seen from our lunch spot.
Mount BaturMount Batur
Mount Batur

As seen from our lunch spot.

27th August 2019

Mount and Lake Batur
Wow, Mount Batur and Lake Batur look like really beautiful and scenic places, and I'm sure the cemetery visit was culturally educational. I'm glad you were able to do this trip, it seems you've been meaning to for a while. Sometimes I think it's worth splashing out the extra dollars if it's a place we wouldn't normally get to see or experience in our lives.
28th August 2019

Lake Batur
Lake Batur probably ranks as one of my favorite places on the planet. I remember first going there in 1993 and feeling so welcome. Trunyan was culturally interesting for sure. I sometimes think I should have been an anthropologist!

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