I’ve now been here for three weeks and Bali seeps under my skin. It’s fascinating how complex this island is — both the Balinese culture and the ex-pat culture! Yes, the more I learn, the more there is to know.
I spent a great deal of time talking to ex-pats about their take on Bali and got a remarkable range of responses. Some ex-pats mix right in — they have Balinese friends and participate in village life, attend ceremonies, practice Hinduism. Some live only the ex-pat life — I’ve even heard some anti-Balinese sentiments by people who live in their midst. Everyone has a strong opinion — it makes for such great discussions! And it will all inform my novel.
I participated in two celebrations this past week. One was an Earth Day music festival — almost all ex-pats — a fabulous concert that lasted long into the night. It was a wild blend of hippie, new age, world music, eco-fest, and it rocked. I loved it. Then the very next day I attended a Balinese cremation ceremony. Everyone is invited — the village prepares for days. Because of their strong belief in reincarnation, the Balinese do not mourn death — they honor it. The village builds gorgeous enormous structures (one is a bade which looks like a tower and the other a bull) which are set on platforms. The corpse is put in the tower structure and teams of men lift both platforms and then they run through the streets with the temple and bull overhead. Music blares, a parade of people form and everyone cheers. Finally after a long run through town, they reach the cemetery. The body is taken down from the tower and put into the body of the bull. Finally, it’s burned. (I missed the burning — the first part took about three hours!)
I will try once more to upload photos. I so want to share these images — it’s a gorgeous country.