Balinese Blends Modern and Traditional Life

Bali is known for its beautiful landscape and unique culture…the image of Balinese women dressed modestly, carrying offering in their heads across rice field have been the object of a lot of paintings, postcards and posters. But, Bali is not immune to the lure of modernization.

Development driven by tourism has certainly changed the face of Bali, especially in certain area in the southern part of Bali. Now you can see the houses, public places and building mix modern architecture with traditional culture.

This is Titi Banda Statue, representing the story of Rama with an army of Monkey on their way to cross the bridge to Alengka and pick Sita. It is located in three-way junctions of By Pass Ngurah Rai and By Pass Ida Bagus Mantra

But, despite the change from typical Balinese architecture, in every Balinese Hindu house you will see one or two shrine or temple like this.

Sanggah: a typical shrine or temple for Balinese Hindu to pray
The above picture taken in a used-to-be familiar Waturenggong street in Denpasar, Bali.

I passed this road every day when I was little. It has always been a busy street due to its proximity to schools and universities. But, now it was cramped with shops and bustling with cars and motorcycles. But densed among shop selling clothes, bags, foods, minimarts, I am happy to see this shop called Ketut Banten (zoom in for the red signage). As the name suggest, it sells Banten that is an offering Balinese Hindu use in their rituals and ceremonies. The simplest form of offering is Canang.

The base of Canang is a rectangular shape intricately made from young coconut leaves. Then flowers and leave are arranged in it.

There are many forms of artifact in Balinese Hindu.

Garuda is one of the most popular mythical creature in Balinese culture. I took this in Puncak Penulisan temple
Ornament in Pura Hulundanu Batur
Pajeng is a traditional umbrella put beside the temple. The color is normally white, yellow and black

With advance technology Balinese also changed the way they do things. Cars and motorcycle take over the more traditional horse carriage.

Skillful but also risky

This lady balance her Boiled Corn, known as Jagung Rebus by Indonesian, in her head while Riding Motorcycle. Skills you rarely find anywhere else, but in Bali. I took this picture around Pura Besakih and at that time she was travelling in a quiet road. Still, safety riding warrant certainly needed. Even in public places like Ngurah Rai International Airport, Balinese artistry is at full display.

This exhibit of The Good Barong and The Evil Rangda
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Only in Indonesia: Kerupuk (Crackers) Lover

Forget all the fancy crackers. Long before those fancy stuffs hit the market, Indonesian already have their original crackers well known as KERUPUK!

There are different types of kerupuk depending on the basic ingredients. The most common one is shrimp crackers also known kerupuk udang. Another common type is cassava crackers (keripik singkong).

Some crackers are taken as snacks. But, dont be surprised to see many Indonesian eats them with their foods such as in Gado-gado and Soto.

In Surabaya where I currently live, people really loves their Krupuk. It was during my undergraduate study that I fell in love with Surabaya type of crackers. It was made from rice flour and looks like spider web.

 

But whenever I go home to Bali i always try to find the crackers from my childhood. It was not like most crackers which are normally quite soft but crispy. This cracker is quite hard and my friends used to call it Krupuk Beton or Concrete crackers 🙂

I am not too sure the main ingredients. I am sure that it is made of flour…but is it rice flour, or glutinous rice flour or wheat flour? I have tried to find out the recipe, but I still cant find it.

So I am so happy that during my visit to Bali that i got the chance to hit the local traditional market.

Top View of Bangli Traditional Market
Another view of the market

I bought lots of it. Quite enough to satisfy my hunger 🙂

Different types of krupuk, top, bottom and right are different variants of Krupuk Beton. Would really want to know the recipe for it!

Batur Geopark Museum

One of the most famous tourist destination in Bali is Mount and Lake Batur located in Kintamani, Bali. Most tourists were taken by their tour guide to Panelokan, Kintamani, where they can enjoy the view of the mountain and lake with all its grandeur. I have passed this place many many times, but I am still at awe.

I have noticed several times that in Penelokan there is a building called Batur Geopark Museum. But, we never really got a time to visit it because we were always in a hurry. After all, the building looked lonely and deserted.

But last time, we passed the place on our way home (Songan)…and we are not in a hurry as we usually did. So, we stopped by to visit the Museum.

At that time, there were several cars and a tourist bus in the car park, which means that there are actually visitors inside! We were greeted by a front office staff when we entered the museum. She politely asked one of us to fill in the Guest Book. Once I finished, I expected that she would me the entrance fee. But to my great surprise, she said that there is no entrance fee. Yup, its totally free!!

We started our tour. There were a machine where you can take a picture of your groups. We took some time to snap ours.

The first exhibit is about the formation of the Universe and Earth. The explanation were in both Bahasa Indonesia and English. Its a bit high up, so my two girls just asked me to read them out for me while they went over the illustrations. Next to the exhibit there were an audio visual where you can watch a video and hear more about the galaxy.

Next to it, there were a big globe…the girls tried to locate some of the countries that they have heard. Indonesia (of course), then Thailand, then England 🙂

Moving on, we came to an exhibit about volcanoes. At this point, I am finding myself pleasantly surprised to how genuinely interested I am reading all these stuffs. My mind went all the way back during my school years where Geography was really the most intimidating subject to me. If only there were this kind of display to help me through those years. I might not turned up to be a Geologist or geographer, but it would really help me to get interested with the subject!

The exhibit showed the most phenomenal Indonesian volcanoes. First is Mount Merapi as the most active volcano in Indonesia. Then, there is a description of Mount Tambora that erupted in 1815 and recorded as the the largest eruption in the history of mankind. In another part of the exhibit we can also read a description of Mount Krakatau eruption that cause enormous Tsunami. Finally, there is a description about Mount Toba which erupted 75000 years ago is the largest eruption in the world has seen during the past 2 million years! In front of the exhibit there are volcanic rocks from Mount Merapi and Krakatau. Seriously, how good it is to have that much information within a single exhibit.

Next up is more description about Volcano in Indonesia. It mainly repeats some of the information from the previous exhibit, but the map shows the chain of 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia that form a big part of the Ring of Fire. It also shows some of the fact such as the tallest, lowest volcano in Indonesia and the world.

The next exhibit is on development of Bali Island. Unfortunately, it is described only in Bahasa Indonesia. There were 19 stages in the development starting over 23 million years a go, which the exhibit called as Oligo-Miosen period. A quick google search did not find Oligo-Miosen. But instead found Miosen and Oligosen…so, please don’t quote me on this one (a real amateur here). It described in detail how the volcano activities and sedimentation over the period of the Miosen, Pliosen, Plistosen, right through 5500 ago  formed what we now know as Bali island. I would love to describe each step in more detail but the technicality really is quite challenging. Perhaps one day T.T

I attached here the exhibits courtesy of Batur Geopark Museum. Sorry for the blurry pics, hope it is still readable.

Having learned about Bali, we moved on to the next segment of the Museum. Here we can learn more about the formation of Ancient Batur Volcano, volcanic rocks of Ancient Batur, formation of Batur Caldera I and the ongoing development of the Batur Volcano.

At this point, I got overwhelmed with all the information. Plus, we did not expect that it would be chilly inside the museum so we were all just wearing our normal clothes. So I just took the pictures and skip through some of the exhibits, as the girls start to complain that they feel a bit cold 😦

*I would recommend you wear warm clothes so you can enjoy all the exhibits inside the museum*

It is quite ashamed really because the rest of the exhibits are really equally interesting. First is a large exhibit describing the distributions and Lava Forms of Batur followed by the grace and disaster of Batur Volcano.

We then move to the second segment of the Museum that describe the biodiversity of Indonesia. My two girls got really excited because there are some exhibits on animals. I particularly love the picture of the Reindeer 🙂 There is also descriptions of biodiversity in Bali Island and more specifically on the environment of Batur Geopark.

Next exhibits are about Balinese: plant and the Balinese, Balinese Culture, artefacts and history of Bali, interaction of human and nature: the Balinese people, and the concept of Mountain in culture. If you really wanna know about Bali, it is really a good place to start! One of the most intriguing is exhibit about diversity of cultural expressions in Balinese society. The cultural concept of the relationship balance between people, nature and God called Tri Hita Karana.

Finally, our tour end with three exhibits about potential and preservation of geological heritage, wise man and sustainable nature. The last exhibit convey a very important message:

Equilibrium in the use of Nature is the key to Biodiversity

Wow. By the end of the visit, I felt overwhelmed with all the information inside the museum. Then, I felt its such a pity that this museum is not promoted enough…and also we found that the facilities (toilets) are not well maintained. I will wanna comeback again one day to have a more thorough look at all the exhibits. In the meantime, I truly recommend this place for you and your kids to learn while around Kintamani!

 

Harvesting Shallots in Songan

Being born and bred in bustling city like Surabaya, spending the holiday with their grandparents in Songan, Kintamani, Bali offers a much needed break for my children. Different weather and different environment gave them a lot of opportunities to learn and experience new things.

This time around they got a chance to join their grandparents to harvest shallots in their field. Shallots are an important produce for Balinese and Indonesian in general as it is used as seasoning in almost every dish. In Bali, Shallots are also eaten raw as condiment.

My two girls are really excited to harvest the shallots. Its not that hard to pull them from the ground. The difficult part is actually judging whether the shallots should be pull at that time or it should be left to grow for a couple more days. But their dad and grandparents pointed out which part to pull. So in the end they did really well.

Gunung Kawi Historic Site

One of the most important historic sites in Bali is Gunung Kawi. I visited it several times when I was a kid. Once with my school friends during a field trip and other times with my family. Recently, during our stay in Sabasanti Villa, I went with my husband and two girls. It was actually the same day as former US President, Barack Obama visit! We were two hours early 😦

I have never been very good at history lesson. I almost forgot all the history of Gunung Kawi. I have to Google it to find this information.

Gunung Kawi is located in Tampak Siring, Gianyar. Its a complex consisting of temples built in 11th Century by King Udayana. King Udayana played an important role in Balinese history. He married Mahendradatta and has three children: Airlanga, Anak Wungsu, and Marakata. Mahendradatta came from Medang kingdom in East Java. Airlangga eventually left to Java and became the King of Kahuripan, an area known now as Sidoarjo Regency. Airlangga has a large territory all the way to Central Java. The capital of the kingdom was eventually moved from Kahuripan to Daha (now Kediri regency).

There are many many steps to get to the complex. Going down is not hard, but climbing back the steps may take a lot of effort so make sure you are in good shape!

Here are some of the pictures from our visit.