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Tropical Punch Tour: Bali Part 6
Featuring Seke Werdha Arma, also known as The Peliatan Masters, supported by the Semarandhana gamelan at ARMA.
Author: garry
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Goa Gajah, Bali, Indonesia


The bathing pools at Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave  near Ubud, Bali.


The demon face entrance to Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave near Ubud, Bali.


A shrine inside Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave near Ubud, Bali.


I rented a bicycle today and rode a few miles down the road to Goa Gajah, also known as the Elephant Cave. There are no elephants there, and it's really not much of a cave. In fact, your average, everyday walk-in closet is just about as big. It's the first thing in Bali that kind of disappointed me. I wasn't really expecting the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico or anything, but come on, Goa Gajah is just a T-shaped tunnel a few yards long in each direction. It should be demoted from cave status and officially designated as a nook instead. The huge demon face carved into the entrance is nice, though, and there's also a huge bathing pool and some nice, curved paths and stairs that wind a little way down into a lush jungle.

A lush jungle setting at Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave near Ubud, Bali.


A local woman at Yeh Pulu, near Bedulu, Bali.


The small cliff face carving at Yeh Pulu, near Bedulu, Bali.


Next, I rode a little further down to Yeh Pulu, a small cliff carving featuring scenes from everyday Balinese life that dates from the 14th century. There was a local at the entrance who charged me a small entry fee. Right after I paid him, he started walking with me and gave me a really short guided tour. Although it was only a few hundred yards down to the cliff, he tried to charge me five bucks when we returned a few minutes later, which was ridiculous. He claimed the entrance fee went to the government and that I needed to pay him, too. Just to get him off my back, I ended up giving him 40,000 rupiah (four bucks), which is worth a lot more to the Baliinese because of the exchange rate. I wouldn't have minded giving the guy a few bucks if he was up front about it at the beginning, but he kind of tricked me, which was annoying.

The Pendet dance at ARMA in Ubud, Bali.


The Baris dance at ARMA in Ubud, Bali.


The Legong Lasem dance at ARMA in Ubud, Bali.


On the way back to Ubud, I stopped and ate corn on the cob that I bought from a street vendor. It was kind of funny that was the only thing he was selling. For the Sunday night show, I headed over to ARMA at the Agung Rai art museum. The program was chock-full of a whole slew of dances performed by Seke Werdha Arma, also known as The Peliatan Masters, supported by a gamelan named Semarandhana that was super tight, thunderously loud and powerful. First up was the very graceful Pendet dance, a prelude of offerings to purify the theater with bowls of water, flowers and incense, and welcome the audience and spirits. Second in line came the Baris dance, am action-packed war dance that celebrates the manhood of the brave Balinese warrior.

The Kebyar Duduk dance at ARMA in Ubud, Bali.


The Jauk dance at ARMA in Ubud, Bali.


The Taruna Jaya dance at ARMA in Ubud, Bali.


Next was the Legong Lasem, performed by three females--two of them grown women, which is unusual. They employ subtle hand and facial expressions and body movements to tell the tale of a tragic royal love triangle. Following that was the the Kebyar Duduk dance, which "progresses through a sequence of moods of an idealized Balinese youth who is just at the point of reaching full maturity. He expresses a gamut of emotions, ranging from sweet flirtatiousness to bashfulness, melancholy and angry bravado."--99 Bali. The dynamic Taruna Jaya dance came next, featuring a woman in a man's costume, followed by the ender: Jauk, a solo dance in which a demon cavorts through the jungle, joking with insects, admiring the scenery, and so on. On the way back to my room, I admired the scenery at Shiva Lounge, where I enjoyed a veggie wrap, fries and garlic bread.

Veggie wrap, fries and garlic bread at Shiva Lounge in Ubud, Bali.


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All words and photos ©2010 Arcane Candy.