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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Galungan and Ida Sang Huang Widi

Had a couple of off the radar days. We set off from Lovina and Christine had noticed a way we could loop back up to the volcano rim to head East over the road to Antosari which was supposed to be a beautiful drive.

Lonely Planet map: The little road through Selat took us up the mountain but was very steep and needed a 4wd

So we drive west along the coast and after asking along the highway found this little side road heading straight inland and followed it up and up even more steeply than the previous one.

We had no idea whether it would go all the way to the top and after passing several villages it would more steeply into the forest and gradually broke down into a stony track with potholes in the forest at times so steep that we had real trouble making way in first.

Also the jeep was just about out of oil and boiling over all the way. A couple of times we nearly turned around but then there was a patch or two of tar seal and after endless hairpins, it broke out into the summit crater area.

View from the volcano summit rim

Here we eventually gave the jeep respite with some oil and water in the crater at a small motorbike shop.

Summit lakes. The names are on the map above.

After checking several T junctions, we made it back onto the road through Munduk again we headed down and then across the saddle to the Antosari road but turned off at Peremban on another back road winding through the spice country bordering the great forest area of western Bali.

 Spices laid out at Manggissari overlooking the huge forest wilderness in western Bali

We eventually came down to the surfing beach of Medewi where we found a cosy place with a restaurant for IR 150000 - Mai Malu.

Today was a bit of a desperate drive along the busy south coast arterial route. We tried to go to Pura Tana Lot but there were queues miles long. We then got lost a couple of times in Seminyak and Legian in atrocious traffic snarls before managing to go to one of our old haunts - Poppies Lane 1 - where all our problems were solved - namely (1) a free parking space (2) an internet cafe where we could print our Air Asia boarding passes and (3) a restaurant with wi fi.

 Mai Malu

We got a bit of a shock the other morning when finally dialed onto my own e-mails rather than Xtine's and found Air Asia wondering why we hadn't checked in electronically and then insisting we print our own boarding passes which is not as easy as it sounds because internet cafes are fast disappearing from the scene with cellphones and tablets and wireless everywhere.

 Everywhere the house poles

Here is a funny story about Bali and festivals. Everywhere we went in Bali there were these waving poles made of bamboo with shredded coconut leaves embellishing them with little shrines with offerings at the base. By everywhere I mean everywhere even the most remote forgotten corners. It couldn't be a government initiative. Also there were groups of boys walking around Ubud with gongs and a tiger dragon as I showed in a previous posting.
On the last day when we were trying to leave, the roads were choked with traffic and cars with foliage medallions on them and people in their formal dress on motorbikes carrying offerings. People were even giving offerings and praying right in the main street.

Praying at the street shrine

Eventually we came upon a festival in full swing and just caught it in the moment when all the figures in the pageant were dancing and about to enter the temple. I managed to get a short sequence of them dancing at the entrance amid wild singing and gamelan clanking.

Galungan celebration on the way to Tabernan

Finally when we got on the plane the Air Asia magazine had a small entry explaining it all. The festival is Galungan and celebrates the victory of goodness (dharma) over evil (adharma) and celebrates the creator of the universe Ida Sang Huang Widi. The bamboo poles, or penjor, are erected outside every family home in Bali. The small shrines are offering to the ancestral spirits of the families who are believed to visit their families during the festival. So much for researching Balinese culture before we left!

Galungan celebration on the way to Tabernan

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