Eastern Bali

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May 13th 2018
Published: May 13th 2018
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I started the day by getting up at 6:00 to catch the sunrise on the beach. After breakfast, We had our first tour today to the Eastern part of Bali. It was to be a 9 hour day and promised to give us some insights into the culture and traditions of the Balinese people. We were picked up at the hotel at 8:00 as promised and transported to a central office where we joined a small group of folks from other hotels. There were about 11others, 2 women from Merritt, 3 folks from Holland, a young couple from Calgary and 4 folks from South Africa. We set out on an air conditioned tour bus through the streets of the city on our way to Batubulan where we were to visit a “batik factory”. On the way we saw first hand what I would describe as “chaos” on the roads. There were hundreds of scooters going every which way, some with entire families riding on one scooter and some carrying bundles of bamboo that stuck out in both directions. It was quite a sight but everyone seemed to know how to navigate both the narrow roads and the busy intersections. The bus driver would occasionally toot his horn and pull into on coming traffic to pass a slow moving truck. It was quite bizarre. Scooters stuck behind slow moving traffic would just go up onto sidewalks to get past and pedestrians just needed to watch out!

We arrived at the batik factory where we learned how the ladies made the batik items. They used a type of pen with a little copper pot attached near the nib. They would dip the pot into hot melted wax and then draw their patterns onto the fabric. There were different sized pens for various thicknesses required on the pattern. Once all the waxing was done, the fabric would be dipped in dye then allowed to dry. Once dry they would draw on additional parts of the pattern with more wax, then dip the fabric in another colour. This was repeated until they had the desired number of colours completed. Once the fabric was completed, it was turned over to the seamstresses who made it into shirts, tablecloths,wall hangings, purses, etc. It was amazing to watch the process.

Our next destination was Klungkung which was an hour away. During the ride, our guide provided lots of interesting insights into the Hindu religion. Their belief is that every living thing has a soul and must be revered. For an example, the coconut tree is revered and that is why no buildings in Bali can be built higher than a coconut tree because that would be disrespectful, hence no skyscrapers!

The Hindu religion believes that every human being who dies must be cremated so they can return at some point in another better life form. It is quite open and we saw cremation ceremonies taking place along the roadsides. Apparently it can cost about $5000 USD to cremate a body. Since it is so expensive families cannot often afford it when the person dies so they will often bury the body and save money. When they save about $2000 they can exhume the body and take part in a group cremation ceremony-as it is cheaper. The body is cremated and the ashes are collected and put into a yellow coconut and tossed into the sea. That way they honour all elements, Earth, fire and water and air.

When a baby is born, a piece of the umbilical cord is wrapped in cloth and made into a necklace to keep away evil spirits. The baby must not touch the ground for the first 105 days. Babies are not named for this time period but the government by law requires a baby to be named within 60 days so everyone in the village uses the same name to get around that requirement. Later the child will receive their real name at a special ceremony.

As our bus went along a country road, we had to stop for traffic. There were large numbers of scooters heading down a dirt path toward a barn like structure. Our guide told us this was where the locals were holding illegal cock fights. He pointed out there were local guards at the gates to keep a lookout for police. Cock fighting was still an important part of their religious beliefs as the Blood was collected and used in many traditional ceremonies. He said it was also a place for the men in the village to socialize.

In each of the small villages only people born into the families could live inside the village area. The exception would be a male taking a wife. Men can have more than 1 wife but only his first wife can live inside the village. Others wives must live outside the village in another house provided by the husband.

Each house in the village has a long bamboo pole out front of the house. About halfway up is a coconut and the pole then is quite tall so that it bends downward as a sign of respect.

As an aside one of the ladies from Merritt told us she came without her husband because he didn’t like hot climates. She told us of her experience being bitten by a monkey on one of her tours ( we go there in a few days) and how she had to go to the hospital for a rabies shot. Well, when we got back on the bus, she retold this story to a poor chap from South Africa along with a number of other tales and adventures. The poor guy couldn’t get a word in edgewise and she just kept talking. Rooney leaned over to us and said she wondered if one of the side effects of rabies was excessive chatting. We speculated that her hubby had the whole town of Merritt chip in to send her on a holiday so there would be some peace and quiet in Merritt for 2 weeks.

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