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The giant steps and terraces of paddy fields in Jatiluwih across the rolling landscape makes for a jaw-dropping sight. In the island of Bali, paddy is cultivated almost everywhere. What makes Jatiluwih to stand out is the amazing terrain that seem to ripple across a massive area and each ripple is staggered into steps of paddy fields.

This was one of the highlights of the Kecak performance at the Uluwatu amphitheatre. In the Rama and Sita love story, Hanuman, the monkey king, had the role of trying to rescue the kidnapped wife of Rama.

We were on our way to Tanah Lot from Ubud when stumbled upon a big group of men and women clearly dressed for a ceremony waiting by the side of the road. We screeched the bike to a halt and threw it to the side of the road. It was in the nick of time. A few minutes later we would have missed it, a few minutes earlier we would have to wait for a long time for the ceremony to start.

For the Balinese, going to the temple usually means to partake some form of communal celebration, family ceremony or personal ritual. For this lady here, it is likely that she was performing the Panca Sembah, where Panca means 'five' and Sembah means 'to pray'.

Rituals, ceremonies and celebrations are a way of life in the Balinese community. Every person has a role to play. The community is tightly-knit and does almost everything together. It is common to see ladies walking in a long line towards the temple with offerings balanced on their head for some ritual. It is also not infrequent to come across a whole family performing rituals in front of a shrine in the manifold temples of Bali.

The Sidemen Road is well-known for its rustic landscape of paddy fields and villages. We came by groups of farmers harvesting and threshing bundles of paddy the traditional way. Here are two ladies threshing in tandem into a makeshift threshing contraption.

The rural and rustic character of the Sidemen road oozed with natural charm and calm. The towering Gunung Agung beyond had a thin layer of clouds crowning its peaks. The paddy terraces were mostly on the left side of the road going north while the terrain seemed to rise up on the right. Sandwiched by the road and the paddy fields was a long and waist-deep canal that seemed to snake along by the road endlessly.

On leaving Songan's Pura Ulun Danu Batur, we came across a village roadside stall selling food. After some verbal exchange in the local language, we settled for Tipat Cantok. What a delightful and delectable choice!

It was an opportunity not to be missed! To inspect the gamelan instruments up close and not having to hurry. The array of instruments includes metallophones on elaborately carved wooden stands with golden growling faces, big gongs on stands to mini gongs rested on long narrow but short wooden stands and cymbals attached to the flatten back of a wooden turtle.

This stone-carved relief showing a gentleman with floral shorts riding a bicycle was the main reason why we made a stop at Pura Maduwe Karang. It's intriguing to find such a carving on a Balinese temple, even more so with a lotus flower as the back wheel! Some said that the rider could have been the Dutch artist W.O.J Nieuwenkamp who visited and explored Bali on a bicycle in 1904.

Danau Tamblingan is not exactly on the tourist trail although it's mentioned in the travel guides. Located furthest in the Bedugul area, if you are coming from the south, it is the last of the three lakes in the scenic mountains. Apparently the last two lakes, Danau Buyan and Danau Tamblingan were once a huge massive lake before a landslide split them into two in the 19th century.

On the right, the silhouette of a small shrine tower sitting atop a cliff served as a distant backdrop while in the foreground, the Kecak performance helpers were preparing to commence the show. The penjor, a tall, curved bamboo pole decorated with coconut leaves stood on the left partially hiding the setting sun. At the tip of the pole hung an elaborate decoration called the sampian.

Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most photographed icons of Bali. Perched on a rock just a stone throw away from the shore, it is accessible by foot during low tide. However, access to the temple proper is limited to the priests only. Even then, one can take a look from near and moved on the exposed seabed for different view angles of the temple.

The Balinese are a community steeped in ceremonies, traditions and celebrations. In every stage of one's life, there is a long sequence of ceremonies to be performed. At one's birth, one's reaching adulthood, one's marriage, one's death. Not to mention a girl reaching puberty and after marriage, pregnancy. Even the temples have birthday celebrations to commemorate their 'birth' called odalan.

Hello... I Am Josh

A Travel Writer & Photographer from South East Asia

A little about me

Josh For some, it's shopping therapy. Others, movie therapy. Yet more, reading therapy. For me, it's writing therapy.
Why writing? When I travel, I enjoy first-hand the experience like in shopping therapy. But when I write about my travels, I live vicariously the experience again, as if like a movie sequel (or more like GroundHog Day, except that this is fun!). Yes, writing evokes the memories, the fun and the not-so-fun but all-in-all it gives the satisfaction of reliving the sense of place once more.
With images, it enhances the experience down one's travel memory lane. With this in mind, I hope to share my travel stories in words and images with you. For your escape therapy! More...

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