Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.






Monday, April 4, 2016

Watercolor Travel Journal - Bali HIgh - Part 1

When my husband and I were in Australia this winter, we had to make a visa-run in order to avoid staying in Australia for more than 90 days straight. It was actually a no brainer that we would choose to go to Bali. It was inexpensive, a short plane ride from Sydney and we have never been there.  Plus, Bali has been on our bucket list for a long time now. Somehow, I have such an affinity for this enchanted  island which has been billed as 'the last paradise' and 'the morning of the world.'  I am not beckoned by the beaches nor the tropical climate. It is its rich cultural heritage and exotic artistry that calls me. Arriving at the brand new Denpasar Airport, we were surprised at how large and modern it is, with touches of traditional Bali found everywhere. We took a cab to our hotel in Seminyak and the hot, humid air assaulted us with the same force as its colors, smells and sounds. At the hotel, we were ensconced into our one bedroom villa with a tantalizingly cool private swimming pool. Bali must really inspire creativity since even being there for just a a few hours, I already started designing our own Bali-style villa.
 

Because our stay was short (4 days and 3 nights), my husband and I decided that we would skip the beaches and concentrate on seeing Bali's cultural offerings. We hired a private guide/driver to take us around the main sites in the island as well as the 'real' Bali. Our first stop was a Barong Kris Dance presentation  in Batubalan. This is a play  about the fight between the good (the mythological animal Barong) and evil (Rangda) spirits. It was a good introduction to Balinese culture since you are able to appreciate the artistry in the costume and masks, Balinese dancing and gamelan orchestra music. At one point in the play, I got confused since the Prince was played by a woman. I asked our guide about it and he said that the Prince is a weakling so a woman had to depict the role.
 
Gamelan Musician playing the drums
From the watercolor travel sketchbook of jojo sabalvaro tan
Feb 2016




Balinese Dancer
From the watercolor travel sketchbook of jojo sabalvaro tan
Feb 2016
After the play, we headed towards Batuan Temple.  On our way there, we passed by what seems like  endless gold and silver workshops in the village of Celuk, where gold and silver crafting is an art form. Here you will find intricately crafted jewelry. Before reaching the temple, we stopped  by a typical Balinese house. The entrance is barred by a low wall to avoid going straight into the property. This is supposedly to ward off any evil spirits. The walled-in property consist of several post, beam and lintel wood and stone buildings - a kitchen (always located on the south), a couple of family sleeping quarters (one appropriated for the head of the household), a family or community structure where celebrations and observances are held and the family temple.


Typical Balinese Kitchen
From the watercolor travel sketchbook of jojo sabalvaro tan
February 2016

The Batuan Temple was founded in 1020 AD and is probably the oldest existing temple in Bali. Batuan comes from the root word 'batu' meaning stone and is a nod to the community's megalithic tradition of using upright stones as a site of worship and meetings. The Batuan temple is filled with Balinese carved ornamentation in every building including scenes from the Ramayana epic which reminded us of the bas relief found at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, One thing we learned here is that the temple and all other temples as well as public spaces in Bali are mostly voluntarily cared for by the villagers..  It might have started years ago as a requirement but now the citizens (young and old) find this voluntary work as a natural and important part of their lives. It is seen as a civic duty and community affair.


Ancient Stone Ornamentation at Batuan Temple
From the watercolor travel sketchbook of jojo sabalvaro tan
February 2016
Ubud was our favorite town in Bali. It is filled with artisans and craftsmen,   the number of artists concentrated in one place is mind-boggling. Both sides of the road are filled with store after store featuring all manner of arts and crafts such as stone and wood sculptures, paintings, baskets and almost anything you can think of. I noticed there were a number of shops selling birdhouses. Our guide said this is the craft du jour. A few months ago, it was beaded jewelry and months before that something else. If you take away the shops, the real Bali is revealed. Verdant rice paddies, dense forests, steep ravines, farms and horticultural centers. And the weather is definitely more pleasant than in Denpasar or Seminyak. If we ever get a chance to come back, we will definitely stay in Ubud. One of the sites we visited is Ubud's Sacred Monkey Forest where long tailed monkeys roam free and are considered guardians of the temple. Just be careful with any food or loose items you are carrying as these cute little guys are quick to approach and grab them from you.


A Family of Monkeys at Ubud Monkey Forest
From the watercolor travel sketchbook of jojo sabalvaro tan
February 2016
We stopped for a coffee break in one of the many Kopi Luwak coffee places.  This coffee is produced from partly digested coffee cherries eaten and then defecated by the Asian palm civet, a process which is said to improve the flavor profiles of the coffee beans. We were shown the civets and the process of making luwak coffee then were treated to a taste test of the different coffee and tea flavors made with the luwak beans while seated overlooking  folks working in  the rice terraces of Ubud. Our guide told us that he likes to take his visitors trekking the rice fields, a popular adventure for tourist but even more popular is trekking the volcanoes of Bali. An idea for our next visit.

 

Sampling Luwak Coffee and Tea
From the watercolor travel sketchbook of jojo sabalvaro tan
February 2016
I cannot be in Bali and not see how Batik and Ikat fabrics are made. We visited the Bidabari Batik Shop in Tohpati, a village known for their Batik artists. There were artisans there that took you through the process of making wax-resist batiks and as well as working the ikat looms. While the batiks in the store are probably more expensive than outside Tohpati, you are guaranteed authentic made-in-Bali  fabric. In the age where most items you buy all over the world are made in China, Bali is a good place to shop for items made by local artisans.
Balinese Artisan applying wax designs to cloth in preparation for the dyeing process
 From the watercolor travel sketchbook of jojo sabalvaro tan
February 2016
 
Next: Watercolor Travel Journal - Bali High -Part 2

1 comment:

  1. Another well written travelogue with the picturesque paintings ( in water color at that ). One of the best places to be soaking in paradise. Just like being there with the write up and the beautiful cultural scenes pictured. Lovely....Wish we were able to meet up. We may be there sometime November, 2016.

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