Reportage: A three day cultural tour of Bali

Day 1—Barong dance in Batubulan

On Friday we set out on a tour with Pak Astika a Balinse priest from Tabanan, Bali. First stop was a Barong Dance in Batubulan. This dance is the eternal fight between good and evil. Barong a mythical animal who represents the good spirit and Randa a mythical monster who represents the evil one.

While I was trying to capture the dance in my sketchbook, Jerry was explaining the acts as they unfolded.

The Barong—the good guy

Servant of Dewi Kunta

Randa—the bad guy

After the dance, we headed up to Ubud to the Blanco Museum which was just amazing.

Pura Goa Lawah

A temple that has three meru (shrines) that stand at the entrance to a deep cave. Their tiered roofs of black palm fiber are stained with the droppings of thousands of harmless bats which dangle from the rocky overhang. No one knows how far the cave extends, it being taboo to venture too deep. They are regarded as the guardians of the temple, but are not the only creatures in Goa Lawah. The priests are happy to show the large rock pythons which coil luxuriously near the shrines and feed on fallen wounded bats.

Pak Astika praying at Goa Lawah

I sketched Astika quite bit on our trip. He is a fascinating person with deep knowledge of Bali and its culture. His ancestors came from Java centuries ago. He had such a natural way of meeting and talking with people along the way in our travels. We had some amazing experiences because of who he is, his most generous personality, his natural way with his people of Bali and his pride in this most beautiful and amazing island.