Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 2 - Island of the Gods

At the beginning of time, only Antaboga the world snake existed. Antaboga meditated and created the world turtle Bedwang. Two snakes lie on top of the world turtle, as does the Black Stone, which forms the lid of the underworld. The underworld is ruled by the goddess Setesuyara and the godBatara kala, who created light and the earth. Above the earth lies a series of skies. Semara, god of love, lives in the floating sky, and above the sky lies the dark blue sky (space), home to the sun and moon. Next is the perfumed sky, which is full of beautiful flowers and is inhabited by Tjak, a bird with a human face; the serpent Taksaka; and a group of snakes collectively known as the Awan, who appear as falling star. The ancestors live in a flame filled heaven above the perfumed heaven, and finally beyond that is the abode of the gods.

Our first Balinese dance was the Barong And Kris dance, a story about the fight of Barong and Rangda. Barong pacified the demon Rangda , but its servant took revenge and turned into another Rangda to fight Barong but was killed too.

And voila! The volcano Mt. Batur, fully in view from the highlands of Kintamani and giving picturesque sceneries. According to our tour guide, Agung, it last erupted in the 1960s. A check in wiki back at home says the last eruption is in 2000 and what’s more, its eruption 30,000 years ago was one of the largest known volcanic events on Earth.

Higher up the hills we came to a coffee plantation. Bali is famous for its Bali coffee, and of course the kopi luwak made from the droppings of the civet. Sanur beach on the way to Uluwatu is popular among the locals. See the glass bottle of Coca-Cola? It's the first time I had ever saw one too.

Our final stop of the day, Uluwatu lives up to the title of Bali, ‘Island of the Gods’ . High cliffs lapped by huge waves, and over the cliff the sunset is spectacular.

In the evening there was a performance of the Kecak Ramayana and Fire Dance. Ramayana and his wife Sita wanders in the forest where Sita is kidnapped by evil Rhawana. Ramayana sends Hanoman, the White Monkey to locate Rhawana’s residing place, Alengka and when located, Hanoman attempts to destroy part of the place but stoope by giants who attempt to burn him. He escapes and guides Rama to Alengka where he defeated Rhawana and reunites with Sita. A special feature is the circle of men surrounding the stages, making sound effects and shouting “Chak-Chak” sounds.

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