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Romantic Getaway to Bali: The Balinese People
In this, the third of four articles about our romantic 30th anniversary getaway to Bali, we take a look at the Balinese people..
Balinese Dancers and the Barong Dance
We have already seen that religion and tradition plays a big part in the lives of the Balinese.
In the small village of Batubulan, we had the opportunity to see a performance of the Bali Barong and Kris Dance, a traditional battle between good and evil spirits.
The Barong is the guardian of Bali, a mythological animal that represents the good spirits, and Rangda is a mythological monster that represents evil. The Kris is a traditional sword which, ultimately, is used to kill Rangda. There are a variety of different stories involving these characters which play out at various locations and ceremonies throughout the island.
The performance is accompanied by musicians playing the gamelan angklung which consists of four metal bars suspended over bamboo resonators encased in hand-carved jackfruit wood. These instruments produce a very unique and distinctive sound.
Wood carvers of Bali
The main occupations relate to tourism, textiles and handicrafts. The area of Ubud, in central Bali, is a group of villages, each one seeming to specialize in a specific craft. For example, Celuk is the centre for gold and silversmiths, Mas for wood carving and Batuan for traditional painting.
There is a lot of poverty in Bali and, wherever you go, be prepared to be approached by vendors selling their handicrafts, including school children selling postcards. Even the temples, which are not commercialised other than a nominal entry fee, seem to have learned the 'exit through the gift shop' trick. Tourists routinely have to 'run the gauntlet' of market stalls and enthusiastic vendors before they can escape.
There are great opportunities to practice your negotiation skills in Bali. We were able to negotiate silver earrings down from 1.2 million rupiahs to 200,000 ($132 down to $22), and T-shirts from 3 for 100,000 rupiahs ($11) to 6 for the same price when we tried to leave without buying. There are great bargains to be had and my advice is to have fun, negotiate in good faith, and be kind - they need the money more than you!
Balinese Rice Field Worker
Could You Carry This?
As we travelled around the island, we were able to see the Balinese people going about their everyday lives. The workers in the rice terraces that cover the mountain slopes, the women walking beside the roads balancing impossibly large loads on their heads.
But the thing that fascinated us the most was that everyone in Bali seems to own a motorbike or scooter of some kind. No matter where we went, but particularly in the bigger towns and villages, there were swarms of motorbikes everywhere. When we stopped at traffic lights we were surrounded by bikes on all sides and it is a miracle that there are not more accidents - I'm glad that I didn't have to drive!
And we were amazed at what they can carry on a motorbike - whole families (without helmets), incredibly large loads and we even saw a toilet bowl!
Interesting Books About Bali
Romantic Getaway to Bali
I hope you found this article about our Romantic Getaway to Bali: The Balinese People interesting and I invite you to take a look at my other articles in this series:
Please feel free to leave comments, particularly if you have visited Bali and want to share your experiences.
You might also be interested in other Romantic Getaway Ideas. And for those of you with a wedding anniversary this year, here are some Wedding Anniversary Ideas that will help you to celebrate in style!
Happy travels, Geoff