An eclectic blog concentrating on Bali but taking in the World

Ubud

Happy Independence Day, Indonesia

Independence Day, Ubud, Bali

Independence Day, Ubud, Bali.

After a long struggle, on 27 December 1949, the Dutch finally recognised Indonesia as an independent state and transferred sovereignty to the Republic of the United States of Indonesia. On 17 August 1950, which was the fifth anniversary of the declaration of Independence, the country was proclaimed the Republic of Indonesia. President Sukarno became the first President of Indonesia and Mohammad Hatta, a highly effective Minangkabau economist from Sumatra, became prime minister.

Indonesia always claimed that the date of independence was 17 August 1945 but the Dutch insisted that the date was 27 December 1949.

In August 2005 the Dutch accepted the 1945 date.

The story of the struggle is told in our book Secrets of Bali, Fresh Light on the Morning of the World, now available as an ebook for immediate downloading.

There are more photographs on www.jonathaninbali.com


Friendly Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

bali-ubud-policelady-1

Even the Cops are friendly.

46,000 readers of Conde-Nast Traveler, the world’s premier travel magazine, have just voted Ubud the 9th friendliest city in the World. In 2010 the majority of 25,000 of its readers voted Ubud the “Best City in Asia.”

I’m not sure Ubud is a city, I’m not even sure that it is a town, nevertheless the accolades are very welcome. Only a couple of cities – in Bhutan and Mandalay – beat my home town/city/village in Asia.

There are more photographs on www.jonathaninbali.com


New Spa Ceremony in Ubud, Bali

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

1st June was not just a day, it was an auspicious day, and it was not just an auspicious day, it was a triply auspicious day.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

The Balinese believe in auspicious days. They are coincidence days, rather like Friday 13th.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

So 1st June was a very good day to have the blessing for the opening of The Tamarind Spa at Murni’s Houses, Ubud, Bali.

The weather was glorious, which made it a quadruply auspicious day.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Early in the morning Murni and her family and friends prepared the numerous offerings of fruit and flowers, rice and spices, and I even noticed a cooked chicken.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

On such days the priests are very busy carrying out ceremonies. We were lucky that he showed up around noon, which made it more challenging for photographs.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

He brought his bell, which resonated throughout, and his mantras, and his mudras, which are sacred hand gestures.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

The women sprinkled holy water over every corner of the spa, both inside and out. Balinese Hinduism is not called the holy water religion for nothing.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

A piece of cloth with magical symbols for protection was attached to the eaves, never to be removed.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

A bamboo pole was burnt over a small fire until it exploded frightening away any malevolent spirits that might have been lurking about.

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

Tamarind Spa at Murni's Houses

After a couple of hours of mantras, ringing bells, and prayers, the ceremony was over and the spa had received the blessing of the gods and was ready to welcome guests.

There are more photographs on www.jonathaninbali.com

There are chapters on Balinese Hinduism, Balinese Calendars, Balinese Ceremonies and Offerings in Secrets of Bali.


The Tarot Reader of Ubud

Novi, the Tarot Reader

Novi, the Tarot Reader

It’s not every day that you meet a tarot reader, and certainly not every day that you meet one  in Ubud, and especially not one who advises top government ministers.

Novi, the Tarot Reader

Novi, the Tarot Reader

It is not unusual in Asian countries for government decisions to be cleared first by people who have extraordinary powers.

Novi, the Tarot Reader

Novi, the Tarot Reader

It would be an interesting academic study to research their influence on world events.

Novi, the Tarot Reader

Novi, the Tarot Reader

We are extremely lucky to have met Novi, who is very down to earth, a teacher, mother and author (I think in that order).

Novi, the Tarot Reader

Novi, the Tarot Reader

She has agreed to take time out of her hyperactive schedule to give tarot readings to guests staying at Murni’s Houses and Murni’s Villas. She allowed me to pick up the camera as she revealed some extraordinary truths about myself.

There are more photographs on www.jonathaninbali.com


The Barongs of Bali

Balinese Barong

Balinese Barong

The Barong is unique to Bali and every time you see one it’s exciting. As you can see, they look life-like. They have spirit and come in various forms, the most common one being the Barong Ket. They symbolize Bali. Murni’s Warung Shop was honored to be asked to commission and oversee the making of a Barong Ket for one of the best-known museums in New York. It gave me an opportunity to take these photos.

Balinese Barong

Balinese Barong

And writing a book Secrets of Bali gave me the opportunity to research them and now to quote a few sentences from it without asking anyone’s permission except my own.

Walter Spies and Beryl de Zoete observed that Barongs are ‘…at once the most familiar and the most obscure…’ figures in Balinese tradition. Barongs come in many forms, but the most common is like a baroque Chinese lion, the Barong Ket, with big eyes and clacking jaws. It is one of the most sacred masks in Bali and probably every village has at least one.  The Barong protects the village from harmful influences. It parades the streets during every Galungan festival, dancing in front of shops and houses, warding off evil.  The Balinese wait in front of their buildings and bow in reverence when it passes.

Balinese Barong

Balinese Barong

Barongs also parade just before Nyepi, at the time of the Balinese New Year. The Barong’s origins are obscure. Two men are inside; one operates the wooden head and lower movable jaw, and the other holds up the back and arched tail… they need to be very strong as the whole costume weighs about 187 pounds (85 kilos).  The beard of human hair from a pre-menstruating girl is the most powerful part. If it is dipped in water, it creates holy water and can cure. The hairy hide, made of palm fibres or the hair of a white horse, is covered with small bells, mirrors and decorations. It takes about three months to make a good quality Barong. When a Barong Ket is old and in shreds, it is ceremonially cremated.

Balinese Barong

Balinese Barong

There are more photographs on www.jonathaninbali.com