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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Watercolor Travel Journal - Bali High -Part 2

For being a small island (90 km at its widest and 50km lengthwise), Bali is very densely populated especially in the south, near the capital city of Denpasar. Traffic can sometimes feel like you are in NYC or Chicago at rush hour. We did not notice any public transportation though our guide told us there are public mini buses called Bemo  - if they were around, they may not be readily accessible. We did see loads of scooters, motorcycles and bicycles. The easiest way to get around is by taxi but the taxi drivers are notoriously dishonest. We made sure to use the Bluebird taxi company since they are said to be the most reliable. Be careful though in flagging down a cab on the street, many cab companies have copied Bluebird's colors and logo so you would mistake them for  the real Bluebird cab.

Bali has maintained its Hindu religion since the 5th century but mixed it with Buddhism and local rituals resulting in a unique style of worship and ceremony. Ninety percent of the Balinese  practice this hybrid form of Hinduism. Ancestor worship is very important to the Balinese so each household has a sanggah or merajan  - a family temple (which is always located in the East) where they  venerate their ancestors and other deities. Anywhere in Bali, we saw these temples in varying sizes and all are well maintained with offerings given daily.
Balinese woman offering flowers at sanggah
From the watercolor sketches travel journal of jojo sabalvaro tan
Feb 2016

In the early morning hours, we found little beautiful pallets of plaited palm leaves that served as containers for the kanang-sari, the Balinese morning thanksgiving offerings to the gods, which include flowers, rice and incense, artfully and lovingly created daily. They are placed strategically all over the house, in stores and on the sidewalks and streets, a job usually relegated to a woman. They are so predominant in Bali that it can sometimes be difficult to walk around and avoid stepping on them.  I really love this practice of kanang-sari since it is so beautiful and feels so uniquely Balinese.


Kanang-sari (morning offering) found on the pavement
From the watercolor sketches travel journal of jojo sabalvaro tan
Feb 2016
There are many Hindu Temples in Bali referred to as Puras. We visited some of the ones that are considered the holiest places in Bali for their role in providing spiritual balance in Bali. There are village temples which are located in the center of town like the Batuan Temple  and also very  large family temples owned by Balinese royalty. The Puras are open air places of worship enclosed by a wall with a series of compounds connected by intricately decorated gates. Each compound has several towers, pavilions and shrines (merus). To enter most of these Puras, one has to wear a sarong and a sash which are normally available at the entrance for free or a small donation.

Established in the 10th century, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the key temples in Bali is situated on the tip of  a coral reef steep cliff about 262 ft. above sea level, overlooking impressive views of the Indian Ocean. The name comes from the word  'ulu' meaning head and 'watu' meaning stone. The temple complex is one of the largest we saw. Sacred monkeys, inhabiting the forest and temples, are found roaming the compound freely.

Gate and shrine at Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Badung
From the watercolor sketches travel journal of jojo sabalvaro tan
Feb 2016

Pura Taman Ayun in Mengwi village is a family temple built in 1634 by the Raja of Mengwi to honor the ancestors of the Raja Dynasty of Mengwi and other important gods. It is surrounded by broad canals and its layout and silhouette reminded us of Ankor Wat in Cambodia. Walking through a couple of gated courtyards, one ends up at the third courtyard, jaba jero, where the most important and holy shrines are found, including several merus up to 11 tiers high. This temple is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. It is my favorite Balinese temple because, to me, the impressive architecture appears to be the truest manifestation of Balinese culture.

The Jaba Jero at Pura Taman Ayun , Mengwi
From the watercolor sketches travel journal of jojo sabalvaro tan
Feb 2016
Located in Tabanan, Pura Tanah Lot is another of Bali's sea temples and one of the holiest. Our guide tells us it is the most visited site in all of Bali and once you are there you can see why. The placement of the temple is breathtaking due to its offshore location. The temple is propped on a rock with waves crashing constantly. During high tide, when the waves cross the causeway making it  impossible to cross to the temple, the rock is almost like a small island much like Mont Saint Michel in France. During low tide people can cross to view the rock base where the legendary sea snakes, who are believed to be protectors of the temple dwell. You can receive blessings from a priest who sprinkles you with holy water that comes  from a natural water spout. Surprisingly, this water is fresh despite its source being the salty sea waters.  If you have not done your souvenir shopping yet, this may be a spot for you to shop. Bring your best bargaining skills! The restaurants on the hill provide good respite, refreshments and magnificent views of the temple and the Indian Ocean, especially at sunset.

Pura Tanah Lot, Tabanan
From the watercolor sketches travel journal of jojo sabalvaro tan
Feb 2016
Today's Bali is said to be created for tourism. In the 1960's, the Indonesian government determined that the tourist revenues would be a great source of income for the country so they made sure Bali remained a picture of paradise. After decades of academic and travel writing and tourist promotion, the romantic image of Bali has become almost indisputable and has even seeped into Balinese consciousness.  The Balinese are charming, artistic, in harmony with nature, community-spirited, hospitable and proud of their island.
Some Bali travel tips:
  • Get a local guide/driver. It is the safest and easiest way to get around Bali and not that expensive. Our guide Didi Suprapta was from a site called Withlocals and at the end of the trip, we ended up as friends. He also operates his own Bali tours company called Baliadventours
  • Wear a hat and sunblock. Being so close to the equator, Bali's sunlight is very intense.
  • When shopping- bargain! bargain! bargain! I was quoted 240,000 rupiah ($24) for a bag and I was able to bargain it down to 40,000 rupiah ($4)
  • Learn about the Balinese culture. Beaches pretty much look the same everywhere but Bali's culture is so unique and rich.
  • Be flexible when departing Bali. Flights are often cancelled or rescheduled due to volcanic ash or for any other reason, which may mean spending another night or two in Bali or sleeping on the floor at the airport. Our flight which was supposed to leave at 9pm kept getting delayed. We ended up departing 2am. We found it funny that airport and airline personnel went around all the gates looking for their passengers who may be asleep when the flight was ready to board.

Like many who come to Bali, we left with a sigh of regret and for as long as we live, we will never forget. Terima kasih.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written & illustrated, TJojo! You transported us to Bali! Bali hai!