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These pictures are from a trip made to Bali and Java 23 Aug - 7 Sep 2004. Geri, Pieta and JD made the trip. Most of the time we were in Bali.
Bali and Java are part of Indonesia, a long string of islands (officially, 13,677 islands) straddling the equator to the north of Australia and stretching from Thailand and Malaysia to New Guinea. The westernmost island in the chain is Sumatra, the easternmost is Papua, the western half of New Guinea. Java is just to the east of Sumatra and Bali just to the east of Java. These islands became known as the Dutch East Indies after the Dutch established a trading post there in 1605. This area became an important part of the spice trade and linked trade between Persia and Japan.
Japan invaded Java on 5 March 1942 and remained in control of Indonesia until the end of WWII. At that time, the Indonesians declared immediate independence, something the Netherlands refused to accept. Under pressure from the UN, the US and world opinion, the Dutch turned over power to the Indonesians on 27 Dec 1949. Since that time, a democratic form of government has evolved in the country.
Most of the islands are mountainous with active volcanoes. The total land area is about three times the size of Texas. Rainfall is plentiful so most of the area is tropical rainforest. Rice production is central to the economy and rice paddies may be seen almost everywhere. Oil, gas, textiles, clothing, footwear, chemicals, timber and wood products, rubber, coffee and tin are major export products.
The population of Indonesia is over 230,000,000. Most of the people are of Malay origin with some Melanesians from areas to the east. Spirituality is very important to the majority of Indonesians. Religious roots are Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and animism, ancestor and spirit worship. This worship is manifested through the many temples and ceremonies practiced, especially those connected with natural phenomena such as springs, bat caves, etc. Indeed, there is no word for Art in the Balinese language. All of what we westerners call art is a natural expression of the Balinese as part of their spiritual practices. This beauty pervades their culture and social behavior.
Ubud, Bali, is the major center of artistic culture in Bali and where we chose to stay most of the time we were in Bali. While in Ubud, we went to Barong, Legong, Kecak and Trance dance performances. We also hiked through many rice paddies, went to a monkey forest, visited a heron sanctuary as the herons were flying in to roost in the evening, toured the Pura Dalem Agung high temple of the dead and visited the Tanah Lot Sea Temple.
Bali Ubud pictures Click on any picture for a larger image.
From 30 Aug to 1 Sep we visited Java, traveling to Semarang on the middle of the north coast. There we were hosted by Tri as we visited her house factory (www.tropicstructures.com and Balinese House Design located on this web site) and then went to Borobudur, an impressive Buddhist temple built around 750-850 AD.
After that, we visited Yogyakarta which is situated almost straight south and near the southern coast of Java. We explored the Kraton, a huge palace for a sultan that was built around 1755. The current sultan still lives there. I brought back two batiks from the batik gallery there.
From Yogya, we traveled to Prambanan, a Hindu temple built around the 9th century AD. It lay in ruins for many centuries and reconstruction began in 1937. Many building blocks still remain to be reassembled in what is a major puzzle for assembly.
We flew from Surakarta back to Denpasar in Bali.
When back in Bali, we stayed at Oka Wati Hotel. From there, we hired a driver and car to take us to Goa Gujah Temple (Elephant Cave) located at the southeast corner of Ubud. It was constructed around the 11th century and fell into ruins. It was rediscovered in 1923 by Dutch archaeologists and unearthed. Next we went to Gunang Kawi Temple located on the southern edge of Tampaksiring, about 15 miles NE of Ubud. This temple is one of Bali's most charming and large ancient monuments, also dating back to about the 11th century. A steep stone stairway leads down to the temple which features 10 rock-cut shrines. The steep steps take about 10 minutes to reclimb.
Another trip took us to Pura Besakih Temple, the mother temple of Bali. It is located about 1000 m up on the side of Gunung Agung volcano which last explosively erupted in March 1963. This site is a collection of 23 separate but related temples. Tourists are not allowed inside any of the temples, however, the views are spectacular. Next stop was the Tirta Empul Temple which is located north of Tampaksiring. This site features holy springs which bubble up through a crystal clear pool of water and empty through waterspouts into a pool. Nearby and overlooking the site is Istana Negara, President Sukarno's palace built in 1954.
Bali-Ubud pictures continued
Next was a trip to Klungkung (Semarapura), site of a Dutch massacre of Balinese royalty on 20 Sep 1906. In this battle, the Balinese fought with hand weapons against the guns of the Dutch in a battle to noble death. The Semara Pura complex includes the Kertha Gosa (Hall of Justice), the Bale Kambang (Floating Pavilion) and a museum. The ceiling of Kertha Gosa is covered with paintings depicting the battles with the Dutch. After this stop, we went to the Pura Goa Temple (Bat Cave temple) which is near the south coast near Padangbai. The temple is very old and has great significance for the Balinese.
Klungkung and Pura Goa pictures
The final excursion was to the East Coast of Bali, to the Amed area. We stayed at a villa there for two nights. While there, we visited a family that lives nearby and went snorkeling on the beach of Tulamben where a WWII ship is submerged. We traveled to the snorkeling site by means of a hand made double outrigger boat which luckily had an improvised outboard motor. From Amed we went to the village of Tirta Ganga (Water of the Ganges), a place of serenity and beauty.
Amed and Tirta Gangga
On our way returning to Denpasar we saw some lovely rice paddies, stopped at Klungkung to buy some flags, and then visited a fabric weaving factory. Our final stop was at a house factory in Denpasar which builds houses using coconut wood.
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