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August 14th, 2011 | Asia

Last Look at Bali…

Ubud is in the throes of great excitement…

The Lembu Hitam (Black Bull) in which the king will be cremated...

The statue of Peliatan stands at the entrance to Ubud...

No…, not because news that I am leaving soon has become common knowledge, causing widespread celebrations, but rather because in the next few days a very special ceremonial cremation is about to take place…

The King of Ubud, who recently passed away, will after much ceremony be placed in the body of a large black wooden bull, and then the whole structure will be taken to a nearby cremation area and burnt in full view of the public…

The centre of town has been cordoned off in some areas to prepare for the large influx of tourists and local Balinese who will attend the ceremony…

In the grounds of the Royal Palace, a large Bade has been built from bamboo and timber… This structure serves as the “final resting place” of the body… The body of the king will first be placed here while offerings and various other ceremonies take place…

After the cremation, the remaining bones will be taken down to Lebih Beach in near Gianyar and cast into the sea… They are transported in a small Bade, carried by four people…

This is one of the biggest cremation ceremonies that Ubud is ever likely to witness, so the excitement and interest it has generated is easily understood..

After taking a few photos in town, I rode out into the nearby village for the last time to remind myself of all the things I had come to love about the area…

The Ogoh-Ogoh near Penastanan... Every village has such a creation, which it is believed can see malevolent spirits which normal folk cannot... The Ogoh-Ogoh will frighten such spirits away, protecting the villagers... It will also scare the Bejesus out of any Westerner who should stumble into one in the middle of the night...!!

Here is another one... This Ogoh-Ogoh stands almost four metres high...!!

This beautiful tree stands outside the village of Sayan... I have stopped to admire it often, marveling at its weird shape...

"Pssstt...!! Daffy...!! Here comes that idiot again...!! You know... The one who wants to get us all to stand in a row...!!

The T-Rex of Geckos...!! Two of these 10-inch guys got into a fight amongst the crockery in the drying rack one night... Judging by the noise they generated, I was sure one had hit the other over the head with a coffee mug...!!

For the best ribs in town, go directly to Naughty Nuri's... Ask for Brian and tell him the Gypsy Biker sent you...!!

On my last day in Ubud, I dashed about printing and laminating photos; getting supplies for the bike blessing ceremony that Patti had arranged for the Big Fella and I later that evening; went in search of the post office to send another batch of maps and other items I no longer needed, home; and then stopped off at Nuri’s Warung where I finally met Brian, the owner…

Patti and I had spent a few evenings there in the past few months, where pork ribs are cooked over an open fire on the sidewalk…

Brian and I swapped stories of our travels, and he reminisced about his visits to Swaziland, (asked if the Why Not was still operating…!!) Lesotho and South Africa…

He told me how much he enjoyed the Western Cape and even considered settling there at one stage of his life…

“But I came to Bali instead…” he told me… “This place sucks you in and just won’t let go, Man…!!”

“Yeah, Brian… It certainly does…!!” I thought to myself, smiling back at him…

“So… You and Patricia, huh…!! Who would have thought…!!” he said, a twinkle in his blue eyes…

“Who indeed…!! I just came here to look after a dog…!!”

He whistled for one of his staff to bring us a beer, apologizing for not being able to offer me a Castle Lager with a wink and another engaging smile…

I looked at my watch and saw that it had just gone 10.00am…!! Ah well, when in Bali, who give a heck what the time of day is…!!

Brian and I have a beer to toast my ongoing journey...

Another take on the "Eat, Pray, Love" theme...!! Gotta love it...!!

The Ubud Post Office... Sending a parcel from Indonesia is a lot cheaper than most other countries I have used before...!! About R500 to airmail a 4 kg box. And no, it did not include the shock absorbers I am still lugging around with me...!!

I spent my last afternoon in Ubud writing a few posts for the website, and backing up files and photos onto external hard-drives (I have four going at the same time now…!!) and then showered in preparation for the ceremony which was due to start as the sun was setting…

At the top of Camphuman Steps, Stefano our Italian friend, had been busy again... Besdies having a beautiful garden laid out on both side of the path that runs in front of his house, he has now erected this little shrine...

Bali had been my “home” for the past ten weeks, and I would miss the ambiance and all the people I had met here… One person in particular of course, who had opened my eyes to new beginnings, and was now on her way home to take part in a ceremony which meant an enormous amount to me…

I tried to focus on the meaning and importance of the ceremony, casting my mind ahead, trying visualize the next few days, weeks and months of my journey…

I could not think of a better send-off than to have my bike and myself blessed before it all began…

©GBWT 2011

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