Bali Barong Tours - Home

Click for larger view.If there's anything I've learned about this island, it's that Bali casts an eye on you, chooses you, and then hands you magical, often mystical, always memorable experiences - usually when you've been looking the other way.

One such instance was the day I sat reading a book on the porch of my bungalow, at an obscure mountain inn, far from Bali's resort areas. There were no other guests at the inn and I was enjoying the solitude and the distant sounds of farmers in the rice fields. Ketut, one of the inn's staff members, passed by and, almost as an afterthought, asked if I wanted to go with him to a cremation. He was leaving in 10 minutes, so I rushed to change into my Balinese clothes.

I've been lucky enough to stumble across several cremation ceremonies over the years. Cremation is an event of great significance in Balinese culture. Though foreigners aren't required to wear Balinese clothes at cremations and other ceremonies, doing so is an acknowledgment of one's respect for the local people and their traditions.

As I met Ketut at the bottom of the hill, I discovered that we would be traveling on his motor scooter. In my tight sarong, I had to ride as the local women do - sidesaddle. The dirt road was full of potholes, so all I could do was pray to the motorcycle gods and hope for the best.

Twenty minutes later I was sitting on the ground, surrounded by several hundred local villagers, watching the women come and go with their offerings, listening to gamelan music and otherwise taking in the colors and vibrancy of the ceremony.

Ketut disappeared into the crowd and I didn't see him again for a couple of hours. Just as the crowd was breaking up, and I had started to wonder how I would get back to the inn, he materialized, as if out of nowhere. As we bumped along, back to the inn, all I could do was smile that secret smile that says, "once again Bali magic has occurred."

If you open yourself up, and grab the opportunities that present themselves, you'll find that Bali, more than any other place, will invite you to share her complex culture, traditions and mysteries. This is just one of many unexpected, pleasurable experiences I've had over the years. I can't wait for the next one.

Diane Embree
July 21, 2004

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