The Sockeyed Blog

Ben Johnson's Blog

Floating Temple, Music in the Rain, Thunderous Massage

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The ricefields in front of our room are now being planted with seedlings in perfect rows with incredible speed. My own back aches just looking at how the men work bent over double, a cluster of seedlings in one had, planting rapidly with the other, pushing a floating basket of seedlings behind them with their calves as they move backwards down the row.

Yesterday’s excursion was to Lake Bratan to visit the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, the floating temple. The four of us hired Angelo, a younger driver that Rod and Sandy have used, for the day. I woke early and wrote up the previous days’ adventures, then we ordered breakfast to our room and ate on the balcony overlooking the paddies. Around 10:00 we met the others and set out. We got off to a rough start at the gas station when Angelo backed into a stack of propane cannisters (fortunately empty) and sent them rolling in every direction, right after telling us what a cautious driver he was. With this exception, he proved to be correct.

The drive to Lake Bratan was straightforward: a climbing road directly north of Ubud. Up we went into the clouds, and rice transitioned into fruit and vegetables. We descended down to the lake under ominous-looking clouds and piled out of the car to look around.

The temple doesn’t float, but is built on a small island just offshore. It is very picturesque, almost pagoda-like with an ascending series of thatched roofs. The temple is one of the primary icons of Bali and can be seen on the 50,000INR note. There were also temple elements on the land including two covered open areas. Under one a gamelan orchestra was setting up, and under the other was a group preparing offerings and chanting.


A rain started and judging by the fact that locals ran to shelter, I knew that it would be a big one. I took shelter with the gamelan, now playing a very rhythmic piece that rose and fell in waves of volume. I don’t know if it was technically a gamelan as it was comprised of drums, gongs and cymbals only, not the keyed gamelan played with hammers. I found the music mesmerizing and made several recordings. The rain beat hard all around making it all very atmospheric. During this time a duck and a chicken – alive, wrapped in leaves and weighted with stones – were sacrificed from a small boat in the lake. This, I would imagine, is a reflection of the animist beliefs that have mixed with Hinduism on the island, although I could be mistaken.


The rain let up slightly and we made our way back to the car and set off, stopping at a fruit market in the town to buy rambutans, mangosteen and bananas. We were asked to pay an exorbitant 250,000 INR ($30) for a small selection of fruit, but the driver and I talked the woman down to 60,000, which I still think was way too much, but the fruit was good (with the exception of one mangosteen that exploded with ants when I opened it and got thrown out of the moving car like a live hand grenade).

We spent the rest of the drive looking at dramatic rice terraces in the Jatiluwih area. There were several steep valleys blanketed in beautiful vibrant green terraces, and we forced the driver to stop every few hundred metres so that we could jump out and take pictures. Rod was most excited to see a father and two sons swimming nakedly in a stream next to the road. The boys squealed happily when we drove by.

The trip back into Ubud was long, down a rough road, then zig-zagging back and forth to cross a series of rivers and valleys to get from west to east towards Ubud. We dropped Rod and Sandy off at their hotel and said goodbye as they are leaving for Vancouver today.

Back at the hotel we had a simple supper (mee goreng for me), then walked over to the Zen Spa down the road for some pampering. Well, I had a very impressive massage, but I wouldn’t call it relaxing as the fellow who gave it to me was incredibly strong and almost had me whimpering several times. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I did whimper when we worked on my calves and hamstrings. The setting of the spa was beautiful, though. My room had an open wall that faced out onto a garden, and during the massage a thunderstorm developed. The rain poured heavily into the garden, and lightning flashed and thunder crashed constantly.

Back at the hotel I sat in the open area near reception and connected to the internet with my laptop. I answered and sent some emails, and uploaded a whole series of postings to my blog. I also drank a glass of Balinese rosé, which was passable and fun. The storm put on a good show all around. Another early night – we were in bed and reading at around 10:00.

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Written by sockeyed

November 4, 2008 at 17:00

Posted in Travel

Tagged with , , , ,

One Response

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  1. Food looks delicious!

    The November rains have set in here. You left just in time. Tom is back and unscathed. We also recieved some good news for our project as of yesterday 🙂

    Other than that, all’s quiet on the western front.

    Enjoy your trip!

    Mike

    November 4, 2008 at 18:29


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