Monday, June 13, 2011

(Travelogue) Oriental Outings Day 6: Kecak-Kecak at Uluwatu Temple and Jimbaran Beach

March 6, 2011
Today, we planned to explore the west coast of the island all the way to its Southern tip till Uluwatu temple. To make most of the sunlight hours, we started the day early.

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World's Cheapest Laundary!
Day before yesterday, while going for Ogoh-Ogoh, we noticed a laundry around the guesthouse. So, after the breakfast, while Urooba was busy in getting Misha ready, I took the bundle to the shop. First thing that surprised me was the price. It was incredibly cheap especially when it involved human labour: < 1 USD for 10 pieces, including the press!
10 pieces in 7,000 rupiyah
This speaks a lot about the disparity; the much talked about gap between rich and poor, and between locals and foreigners. As they say: currency is a store of value, true, but why the size of the store differs from place to place? Imagine a foot scale measuring differently in various places. That will result in a chaos, wouldn’t it?

A Billionaire in Bali!
Till todate, we had been running on Ron's finances, which was obviosuly not part of the deal.  Actually, exchange shops were closed since we arrived in Bali owing to Nyepi. And we avoided those kiosks at the airport arrival lounge which are notorious for their overcharging.

In order to pay back the debt I then visited the nearby franchise of Bali Money Changer, or BMC. Like in any other tourist spot, getting ripped off while exchanging the currency is common; at times due to unfair rates and at other worst times due to frauds. So, a little bit research on this proves quite useful to avoid the bad taste.

Indonesian currency can make you feel like a billionaire! For USD 300, I got more than two and a half million rupiyah! On the flip side, keeping track of all the zeros in your pocket is always a challenge!

Let's Go
Misha and Urooba were ready when I returned rich. Putu had also brought the motorbike back after some maintenance so we hit the road again.
Go as Balinese Go
Fuel Station
The island of Bali is gifted with long stretches of versatile beaches; some suit to wave crashers while others are subtle and secluded. West coast is popular among surfers and swimmers, east coast is a water sports hub, and the North is for people who are more into nature and less into luxuries.

Jimbaran Beach
Hassan, a local Couch Surfer, recommended us Jimbaran beach, a popular spot among surfers and local families! Since the beach was on the way to Uluwatu we clubbed both together and took the Sunset road. With the help of road signs and a simple map we reached our destination easily.
Jimbaran Beach
The clean beach was located in a serene setting; green hills around, a long stretch of white sand seashore, West open for a romantic sunset, and a row of seaside restaurants selling live seafood. Other facilities such as surf boards, beach chairs, and life guards were also adding to the ambiance.
Go green

To Uluwatu
After having enough solar energy we headed further South and took the road up the hill towards the temple. Soon the road left the neighborhood and entered in the pastoral countryside with jungles around. Driving through this long stretch was itself an experience; narrow spiraling track, cool ocean breeze filtering through tall trees, scenic landscape, and the feeling that as if we were going back into time.

Monkey Tricks
To catch Kecak Kecak dance, a folklore tableau, we had to reach Uuwatu before the twilight. The temple is located in extended vicinity with an organized setup. Parking lot was big enough to accommodate the tourist influx, mostly on packaged tours. Although that supposed to be a religious routine, the hefty 140,000 per person (~ USD 20) ticket, on top of the temple entrance fee and parking fee, reflected the commercial aspect behind the ritual.

We made our way to the arena through a patch of a monkey forest, with the help of a guide. Had the guide not been there, I could not escape the shock attempt on my glasses from a naughty mimic! Those creatures were smart enough to surprise visitors by snatching their valuables and then hang their catch high on surrounding trees!!

The overhung stadium was aesthetically situated; facing the Indian Ocean from a height of a few hundred feet! The skyline was changing its colour as it was getting closer to dusk; from sky blue to purple to magenta!
A view of Indian Ocean from Kecak-Kecak stadium

Lights on!!
The drama starts

Low Tone

Among the audience

Why are they making so much noise, Mama?!
In the meantime, the big torch in the middle of the stage had been lit up signifying the start of the show. Subsequently, a group of around 50 men wearing antique Tarzan-like attire entered in the field chanting Kecak-Keack Kecak-Kecak and then settled around the torch continuing their echoic mantra. For the whole hour long tableau the troupe kept on hymning with varying tones as per the demand of the scene until the legendary Prince Rama managed to unshackle his wife with the help of Hanoman (monkey-like Vanara) from the wicked King Ravana!

Growing momentum

The wicked King in green

The drama continues

The abducted Princess

Who is this in yellow?

Catch me if you can!
The Dinner
On our way back, we stopped at Madania Moslem restaurant for dinner, during which heavy rains started, again without warning! However, we managed to reach back home safe and sound.
Madania Moslem Restaurant

The Menu

Tom Yam
Finally, the food is here!

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