Touring Central Bali

Wayan picked us up at 0730 to continue our tour. We took a different route up to the mountains this time, but the scenery along the way was almost identical, with the narrow roads, neighborhoods of stores all selling the same product, and the Balinese style buildings with an occasional plot of land or forest peeking through.

Our first stop was at a wood carving shop called Manis The display area is enormous and the pieces are some of the most beautiful we have ever seen in our lives. We are talking award winning artistry here, the kind of work you pay hundreds of thousands for at home and brag about owning at cocktail parties. No exaggeration. It seriously looked more like an art museum than a shop. They offered goods ranging from small curio cabinet carvings, to statues and wall hangings, to furniture sets with matching couches, chairs, bar stools, tables and coffee tables. In the middle of the first floor display area there was a small team of people working away. You actually watched as a plain piece of wood took on a beautiful shape and marveled that the artist could see such a vision in a plain old piece of wood. There were people sanding and staining in addition to chiseling. The prices are outrageous by Indonesian standards, but a bargain by American standards.

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While we looked around, we were followed by one of the staff who talked incessantly about each piece that we glanced at. At one point we Continue reading Touring Central Bali

Exploring Ubud – Part 2

Continued from yesterday”¦ The next stop was the Ubud Palace and Puri Saren Agung, which is a large compound in the heart of Ubud. The compound has several areas. One part of it is the temple with various ornate buildings and altars around a courtyard. From the temple there are a couple gates. One leads to a complex of low, decorative houses where the royal family lives, and the other to what looks like a community area with several open buildings and a kitchen. The first shot is the main part of the temple and the second is one of the royal houses. This is the traditional Balinese architecture we have talked about over the last few days.

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Across the street from the palace and temple, on the south side of the street, is Continue reading Exploring Ubud – Part 2

Seeing Ubud and The Monkey Forest

Since we knew there was no way we could get into the actual conference, we went sightseeing today, instead. Our agent, Wayan, is also a tour guide, and he drove us to central Bali to the town of Ubud, which is considered an artistic Mecca. As we headed north from the marina, we headed to the capital of Denpassar on a main highway. Our first stop was Continue reading Seeing Ubud and The Monkey Forest

Sneaking into the UN Climate Change Conference

Continued from yesterday”¦ We saw several cars escorted by police on the other side of the highway, clearly important officials that were leaving Nusa Dua to go to their hotels or sightseeing.

Just like in Denaru, you have to go through a security checkpoint to get into Nusa Dua when entering by car. The security guards eyed us carefully, checked the trunk, and walked down the length of the car holding a mirror to make sure there was nothing hidden under the car. They waved us through. Nusa Dua was exactly what we expected, with a golf course and perfectly manicured walkways set in and amongst posh, widely spaced hotels.

As we neared the conference center, traffic came to a grinding halt. We got out of the cab and made our way to the Westin grounds. It was 17:00 (5:00 pm) and the conference Continue reading Sneaking into the UN Climate Change Conference

Welcome to Benoa Harbor, Bali Island, Indonesia

Lat 8`44.5S Long 115`12.7E
It is certain that Bali has been populated since pre-historic times. The oldest artifacts found are 3,000 years old. The earliest written records date back to the 9th century, well after the Indians had brought Hinduism to the archipelago. At the time, the Balinese were technically Hindu, but had incorporated in many of their animist beliefs (religion practiced prior to the arrival of Hinduism), creating a branch of Hinduism quite different from that practiced in India. By that time they already had a complex irrigation system used for growing rice.

In 1284 Bali was first conquered by its neighbor to the west, Java. This lead to two centuries of struggle for independence, with Bali winning for many years, then losing for as many, etc. In the 1400’s, Java’s empire fell apart and many intellectuals, artists, dancers, musicians and actors fled from Java to Bali. With so many artists, Bali flourished as an artistic center. In the 16th and 17th centuries, neighbor Java, as well as many other islands in the archipelago converted to Islam, but Bali held onto its unique Hindu belief system and corresponding artistic culture.

By the time Continue reading Welcome to Benoa Harbor, Bali Island, Indonesia