Cheka Cheka Cheka

Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
Trip End Jul 21, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Sunday, September 6, 2009

Although we've enjoyed our beach time
it's time to go and explore some more of Bali. After negotiating our
transport: “200,000 rupiah - no way 120,000; 200 - no 120; 160 –
hmmm - can't go lower - 150. Fine 150!” we drove through the
countryside and saw rice fields and women without shirts which caused
us to do a double take. Our hotel is off a non-paved road in the
middle of rice paddies – it's quiet and there is a Balinese woman
who runs it.

After getting situated we walk into
town and it is hot and busy. We're hungry and see Ibu Oka – a place
recommended in our guidebooks as good for roasted pig. As those who
came to our Fourth of July party know– we love some pork! Ibu Oka
doesn't disappoint and we instantly fell in love. We ordered one
special, quickly devoured it, and ordered another – perfect
complement: Bintang Beer. The “special” is: pork skin, meat,
blood sausage, and curried jackfruit on top of rice with chili
peppers. Spicy but not overwhelming it is delicious! What adds to
the experience is the people watching – Ibu Oka attracts the
tourists but the locals also love the place and come as far as
Denpasar to grab the grub. The ladies are the ones who are serving
up the baskets of food, hacking up the pig, and adding the spices.
There are about 8 women who are constantly moving in the open kitchen
area as well as 2 waitresses and one guy who seems like the manager.
He is quite a character with his gold rings and huge potbelly. But
he's also quite the entrepreneur speaking pleasantries to the
Japanese, Australian, and German tourists – something in the line
of “sit here”, “pay after the meal” “this is what you owe”.

Full from our feast we walk around the
town and it is clear a lot of expats have stayed. There are 3 used
book stores here – two of them run by the French; there is a huge
yoga center and outside of a cafe called Buddha Bali there are tons
of announcements regarding meditation sessions, yoga classes,
cleansing treatments etc.

What's also cool about this area is
that the Balinese people have maintained their culture despite the
tourist invasion. Women and men walk around in traditional dress;
there are hundreds of small shops where you can see Balinese women
sewing and Balinese men carving wood. Everyone around here seems to
be involved in arts and crafts in some way

Around sun down we walk to a temple for
the Kecak dance – and we actually arrived early and got front row
seats! We were treated to a show which is different than anything we
have ever seen: there were no instruments Instead there were about
50 men chanting continuously providing the rhythm –you have to check it out! What's
amazing is how they seem not to get tired – because they never
stop. Bare chested and wearing black and white checkered cloth
around their waists and a red hibiscus flower behind their ear the
men sit cross-legged in a circle occasionally waving their arms and
clapping their hands. What we learn later is that none of this is
written down instead they all learn by memorizing and practicing
several hours a week. What's more crazy is that what we saw was the
abridged tourist version of an hour and a half normally the dances
are about 3 hours in length if not longer!

The dancers were incredible: very small
but precise movements at precise angles. There was not a lot of
facial movement – the eyes told the story: darting back and forth
or growing larger. And the costumes were over the top – especially
the women who were wrapped tightly in this vibrantly colored
gold-threaded cloth and huge crowns. The setting for the dance was
spectacular as well the temple area was lit by candles. At the end
of the Kecak dance an older man dressed in nothing but a loin cloth
did a “trance dance” where he walked barefoot over coconut husks
that were on fire. And he did this for a good 15 minutes (check out
his feet!)

Thoroughly amazed we are invited to
take a few pictures after the show – and of course we do – but
after about 5 minutes of them standing there in perfect poses it
starts to feel a little weird – like they are in a museum/zoo so we
leave for our 30 minute walk (10 min of which we are in complete
darkness) to our hotel in the rice paddies.

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