Kecak Kecak, Quack Quack
Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
273Trip End Oct 08, 2008
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The Hindu-Balinese culture is very strong here. Every shopfront and house has a personal shrine out front
I wanted to do a couple things while in Ubud. One was to walk around in the rice paddies. The other was to see the Kecak dance. So we got tickets for the night's performance (there are several cultural performances every night all over Ubud) and headed out on a random trajectory. We ended up on a ridge walk. It was really quite striking scenery. We headed off the main road, past a temple hidden in the forest, and emerged onto a sharp ridge between too rivers. It was entirely covered with a brilliant green grass, with the occasional palm tree spaced evenly along the stone path. The land fell away to either side and then rose up, covered with trees. So why weren't there any trees here?
The road led to an artists village, which meant people tried to sell us stuff. But after that we emerged into an amazing rice paddy view. My favorite part was the ducks. Raising flocks of farm ducks is something of an Ubud specialty, and often you will see groups of ducks feeding among the rice paddies
We were accosted by a crazy-eyed man who seemed very intent on climbing up a tree to get us a young coconut. We ran away from him. We turned back the way we had come when it looked like the rain was going to catch us again, but it held off until we got back. We once again avoided the crazy coconut man. Back in Ubud we passed another American whom we had met before we started the trail. He asked us if we had seen the crazy coconut man. Apparently he does it to everyone.
Amidst the pouring downpours we found our way to the Kecak dance temple. Apparently selling performance tickets is a pretty big commission racket in this town. Our hotel owner wasn't happy when we said we got our tickets somewhere else. And even as we were walking to the performance we passed four or five random guys trying to sell us tickets.
Because of the rain, the Kecak dance was inside a big pavilion. The only source of light was an array of candles in the center of the floor. Other than that it was dark. At the appointed time the Kecak "choir" piled into the pavilion. There were perhaps 30 of them. They circled the candles and started chanting. Soon enough the singing flowed into the trademark "Kecak Kecak." One guy chirps, "Kecak Kecak" quickly, which is the cue for the entire group to roll into a rhythmic chattering that is an amazing and hypnotic sound. It was very strange. The dance is a part of the Ramayana, telling about a battle involving the monkey king, Hanuman. The Kecak dancers represent the monkey army
The next morning it was raining again. I was not very happy with the weather, since it wouldn't let me wander around randomly like I wanted to. Instead we took a very sad looking bemo up to Gunung Kawi, which turned out to be a rather nice trip. This temple is a series of giant stone memorials cut into the cliffs. To be properly attired we had to borrow long pants or a sari and a sash. Donation expected of course. The memorials were very cool but the scenery was also amazing. This is what I thought of as Bali. Rice fields, beautiful green jungle, rivers and waterfalls. We were led to a waterfall, past homemade bee hives and rice paddies. It was quite an impressive place.
Coming back to Ubud, we went back to the hotel to relax a bit. I was inside on the bed and Erin was sitting outside on the front porch
What followed was an extremely lengthy and generally confusing exchange, from which our hotel owner no doubt got a very strange and twisted view of what life was like in America.
Some questions were simple enough, but surprisingly hard to answer. Such as: can women wear bikinis in the United States? Erin pauses, then answer carefully: yes, they can wear bikinis pretty much anywhere if they want to.
Some questions were a little more complicated. He seemed very interested in the difference between good girls and bad girls. Erin never quite could figure out what a bad girl was. A prostitute I suppose. Nevertheless, he seemed to think good girls wore white dresses. Erin told him bad girls wore white dresses too. But sometimes bad girls dressed up like good girls but their clothes were see through. I'm sure this helped. Bad girls suddenly became waitresses. Do waitresses go home with customers? Well, it's allowed I suppose
I sighed and rubbed my eyes. Our new friend left thinking that in America every woman walked around with a bikini, and if the waitress wouldn't sleep with you some other customer would. Oh and the woman would usually keep the baby.
I really hope he never makes it to America unless he gets a second opinion. Or perhaps a couple opinions.