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"To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it." -- Confucius

Bali

279--Bali: Volcanos and Drag Queens
@ Book & Movie Reviews     Feb 24 2005 - 02:40 PST
Cherie and Hannah at the top of Gunung Batur, one of Bali's active volcanoes.

Cherie and Hannah at the top of Gunung Batur, one of Bali's active volcanoes.

cherie writes: There is a certain yin-yang balance in all life. The Balinese believe, as I do, that opposites compliment each other. Hannah and I (a yin-yang friendship) decided to combine forces in Bali and hiked one of the country’s highest active volcanoes at sunrise only to hike down and attend Bali’s Miss Drag Queen 2005 the very same night.

We awoke at 1:30 am and headed towards the active Ganung Batur near Kintamani, Bali. Then we climbed the volcano under the soft light of 80 billion stars and the strong light of our local guide’s torch. Sadly, the clouds obscured our view of what might have been a startling and spectacular sunrise. Still, Hannah and I enjoyed the cool volcanic breezes laced with sulfur and the hike down through small volcanic farming villages.

After a long shower, Hannah and I headed into town to watch Miss Bali Drag Queen 2005 held at Q-Bar in Seminyak. We were about the only “authentic” ladies in the crowd. The lady-boys loved us and showered us with attention. The highlight of the night was when one of the Queens poured tequila in Hannah’s mouth straight from the bottle. We laughed so hard our stomach muscles ached as much as our weary legs.
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277--Bali: Bat Caves & Pink Chickens
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 23 2005 - 01:16 PST
Hannah and Cherie in matching Cookie Monster shirts at Pura Goa Lawah, Bali (Bat Cave Temple.)

Hannah and Cherie in matching Cookie Monster shirts at Pura Goa Lawah, Bali (Bat Cave Temple.)

cherie writes: Hannah and I headed for Tenganan, a local Bali Aga village famous for weaving holy ikat cloths. Sometimes these intricately woven cloths take months for a villager to make. The native Bali Aga people believe that the Hindu god of storms (Indra) taught the villagers how to create these special cloths.

Hannah wanted to buy one of the beautiful rectangles of cloth and use it as a sarong. I can’t explain the expression on the local man’s face as Hannah innocently wrapped the ikat cloth around her waist. I can only describe the man’s actions as “freaking out.” It was the same horror a Catholic might have felt seeing a man defecate in the Pope’s hat.
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276--Bali: Mick's Place & Ulu Watu
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 21 2005 - 12:18 PST
Cherie at the edge of the infinity pool near Mick's Place in Bingin, near Ulu Watu, Bali.

Cherie at the edge of the infinity pool near Mick's Place in Bingin, near Ulu Watu, Bali.

cherie writes: I rarely write about hotels. They don't interest me. It's the people that define a country. It's the food, the smells, the writing, and the art. The hotels are merely where you sleep to absorb the essence of the culture.

But I am making an exception for Mick's Place in Bingin, near Ulu Watu, Bali. Mick's Place isn't a hotel, it is one Austrailian surfer's dream come true. It is four huts and an infinity pool precariously placed on a cliff overlooking the vast Indian Ocean. Huts isn't the right word. Maybe "five-star huts" describes the place better. Sure, there is no electricity. But the huts are lit by the soft glow of stars and candles.
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275--Bali: Who's that Masked Man? Balinese Dancers
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 17 2005 - 01:33 PST
His feet don't stink!  The mythical Barong dances in a traditional Balinese performance.

His feet don't stink! The mythical Barong dances in a traditional Balinese performance.

cherie writes: Bali is famous for its amazing dances. Each one is a display of extreme color and energy. The town of Batubulan puts on a wild Barong and Rangda dance. The mythical Barong (half dog, half lion) battles the Rangda (a scary thing with great fangs and long hair.)

At night, Margaret and I watched the Kecak & Trance Dance performed by our friend Nyomen’s village. The entire village participates in the weekly dance. The village, made up of about 140 families, is called Desa Pakraman Taman Kaja.

Over a hundred bare-chested men in matching table-cloth skirts circled around a fire and chanted while other masked performers acted out the story from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Nyomen played Rahwana, the demon King who lusts after Sita.

After good conquered evil in the Kecak Dance, we watched a villager perform the Sanghyang Trace Dance. The villager was put under a trance that enabled him to dance on a blazing fire of coconut husks. The kicked the flames up and flew around the fire on a fake horse while the gamelan suara (the bare-chested chanting villagers) threw their arms up in the air and swayed to the beat of their own voices. Margaret and I had front-row seats…after all we knew the star of the show!
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274--Bali: What's a Bedugal?
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 15 2005 - 12:02 PST
Margaret and Cherie next to an angry statue in Bedugal's botanical gardens.

Margaret and Cherie next to an angry statue in Bedugal's botanical gardens.

cherie writes: Margaret and I headed to the hills near Bedugal, Bali where we stumbled upon a small village preparing for a wedding. Margaret and I are stop-a-holics. "Stop, stop, stop," I screamed to our driver named Nyomen as he sped past the villager who were preparing a massive float for some sort of festival. Our friend Nyomen drives us around the Balinese countryside. We drive him crazy.

"What now?" Nyomen asked winding through the road at Formula One speed. I aske poor Nyomen to stop every few miles to photograph something that facinates me--from the dozens of school-children crammed in the back of a pick-up, to the smiling funky-fruit-stand lady, to the villagers of Bedugal gathered together to make a "pengor."

"What are those villagers doing?" I asked.
"They're just preparing for a wedding," Nyomen said.
"Can we meet them?" I asked. Nyomen rolled his eyes, flipped a U-turn and our impromptu stop turned into the highlight of the day.
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273--Bali: No More Monkey Business
@ Where`s Cherie?     Jan 13 2005 - 05:06 PST
That is not a Balinese barrette in my hair.  That is a macaque tangled in my wild mess of curls. *Photo by Margaret.

That is not a Balinese barrette in my hair. That is a macaque tangled in my wild mess of curls. *Photo by Margaret.

cherie writes: The Balinese call it Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana. Translated in English it means The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. I’m not sure if Margaret and I spent the morning admiring the monkeys…or if the monkeys spent the morning admiring us. I was tackled, jumped on, and my hair was pulled; I was like being a kid all over again.

One curious monkey couldn’t stop looking under Margaret’s dress. Maybe he had a bet with a fellow macaque regarding the color of Margaret’s panties. One thing is certain—the Balinese macaques had a ball tormenting the two American blond girls.

After being poked and tickled by the fearless monkeys, we sat down to a traditional Balinese feast of suckling pig. Later, Margaret and I retired to our hotel for a dip in the infinity pool that over-looks a picturesque rice-paddy. The rice paddies near Ubud are always full of interesting farmers, who will gladly climb a palm tree to fetch you a refreshing coconut snack. Our day ended by watching a typical Balinese shadow-puppet show. I didn’t understand anything that was going on in the hour-long show except for one moment when a Balinese puppet said in perfect English: “My name is Don King. Can’t you tell from my hair?”
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272--Bali: Life as a Rice Farmer
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 12 2005 - 01:43 PST
Cherie and Margaret in the terraced rice fields near Ubud, Bali.

Cherie and Margaret in the terraced rice fields near Ubud, Bali.

cherie writes: It’s time to take the pulse of a new country—Indonesia. Margaret and I are based out of Ubud, a magical mountain town where we wake up to the sweet scent of incense and dewy smell of rice fields in the morning. Our alarm is the coo of birds and babbling of fountains. But Margaret might say our alarm is the annoying howl of the local rooster.

Rice farmers bring splashes of color—orange, purple and yellow—to the brilliant green rice fields surrounding Ubud. There are many rewards in Bali for early risers. Watching Ubud come to life in the morning, is like watching an infant take her first breath. Ubud is like a sanctuary, and we have taken refuge here.
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