Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Tourism Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, Thursday, 23 June 2011 8:55pm

I did the tour thing today, shuttled between various "highlight" attractions organized by their proximity to each other, rather than any thematic logic: a Barong and Kriss dance performance, a woodworking shop, the Elephant Cave Temple complex, lunch overlooking the Gunung Batur volcano, a coffee and spice plantation, the holy springs at Tirta Empul, the ancient hill temple of Gunung Kawi, and a rice terrace viewing. It is significant that the fine print points out that entrance fees are not included in the cost of the tour, because, of these items only the rice terrace viewing didn't involve either a fee or a sales pitch. Apart from the feeling of being nickel-and-dimed, it was a pretty good day. None of the attractions were fantastic by themselves, but it was fun to wander around, seeing various things and to be out and about.

The Barong is a mythical beast that battles against evil spirits, played in the dance by a two-man costumed team styled somewhat like Chinese lion dancers. There was an elaborate plot involving witches, prime ministers, woodcutters, a monkey, the Barong, a boar, and a bird. We were given a handout which sketched it out, which was particularly necessary because various characters changed form repeatedly (eg. witch's helper to witch to boar to sausages to bird to witch). In one of the last chapters of the dance, the witch was attacked by a group of men with kriss daggers and defeated them. The attackers then went into a trance and stabbed themselves with their knives. It looked like it hurt quite a bit.

This volcano viewing was very relaxed, compared to the ones on Java. The active volcano is a series of cinder cones inside the very large crater of the former volcano. There are restaurants built along a road that runs around the rim of the crater, so you can have lunch on a terrace with a view of the cones and the crater lake with no hiking necessary.

The plantation was an unsubtle offer of a chance to try Kopi Luwak, or "civet coffee", which I declined. The Kopi Luwak beans looked gross, and I don't like coffee to begin with. I did have some ginger tea that was quite impressively harsh.