BALI - April 1979

12th April 1979

Andrew S and I got a 1 pm flight down to Bali with Ian R who hadn't been to Bali before, Friday being Good Friday. Indonesia seemed to have lots of national holidays, Christian, Muslim and others. We were picked up by the Tanjung Sari hotel car which seemed to have a tie-up with Palmer & Turner as we had arranged to use their bungalow at Sanur. They had a common landowner.

When we got to the bungalow we found two expatriates there. We said we had booked it and they seemed a bit shifty and said they would investigate flights to Lombok. We decided to stay the night at the Tanjung Sari and returned the next morning as they had rung to say they were going to Lombok. They probably had a general OK to use the bungalow from a partner of P & T but our booking was unknown to them. On the other hand they may have been gatecrashers, having found out that the bungalow was often empty. The Balinese cook wouldn't have known if they were genuine or not.

Andrew S and me at Besakih on 13th April 1979

Andrew S and me at Besakih on 13th April 1979

13th April 1979

We went off to Besakih on Friday morning as we had been told of a festival there, stopping at Klungkung on the way to see some old ikat cloth. There was a huge amount of traffic, so different from the calm quiet day we had last time. The new car park was ugly and huge and it was raining hard. The whole place was seething with pilgrims. We decided to go to a restaurant without actually entering the temple.

After lunch we went to Ubud and Tilem's gallery to see some carvings and cloth (old and new). He had a shop in the Mandarin Hotel and obviously catered for rich tourists. Then we went to Denpasar, Bali's capital, to more souvenir and antique shops. I bought a thick new Sumba blanket for 55,000 rp (45). I think it was priced as an old blanket but I thought later it was new and others confirmed that.

The P & T bungalow was empty and very pleasant, next to the beach and with its own swimming pool. A thatched bungalow with natural stone and plastered walls. There was an electricity sub-station nearby which had a thatched roof, white stone plinth and quoins and dark red stone infill. It looked beautiful. Also nearby was a kulkul tower with carved stone walls and thatched roof that had a water tank inside it.

14th April 1979

We went to Mengwi on Saturday which was peaceful and sunny. I much preferred Mengwi to Besakih. It is surrounded by a moat and although a big temple it retained its beauty whereas Besakih was a horrible tourist spot. After that we went to Blayu to see some weaving, then on to Bedugal where there is a temple next to a lake in an old volcano crater. We were offered a ride in a boat across to the temple for 500 rp each and when half way across realised that the road went round the lake. I got goose pimples in the chilly wind and it spotted with rain. The temple was a ruin but still quite pretty.

We returned to Mengwi then asked to take a short cut along minor roads to Ubud. We passed a lovely local temple in the fields. We passed through several sleepy kampungs (villages) and at one got out to watch a cock fight.

Local temple between Mengwi and Ubud on 14th April 1979

Local temple between Mengwi and Ubud
on 14th April 1979

Birds were held close to each other to see if they were suitably aroused, two people would agree to fight their birds and bets were placed while spurs were tied on. We watched birds having spurs tied to their legs which took about ten minutes. They were about four inches long and had sharp points but not sharp edges. I was surprised that the birds didn't lose their animosity during the delay while the spurs were tied on.

The birds were put nose to nose, released and flew at each other, legs thrashing up and down. In the fight I watched the birds darted over to the side of the pit and fought next to people with bare legs and feet, quite dangerous for them too. At one point both birds paused, one with its leg up against the other. The end of the round was shouted and both owners fetched their birds. There was a coconut shell with a hole and water in it as a timer, but I don't think it was used in this fight. The round lasted less than a minute.

The white bird was pouring blood from its thigh which the owner held tightly. The red cock looked OK. Then the next round started. The white cock just stood still; the red cock also stood still, then keeled over as it must have been more injured than it looked. It was clasped again by its owner and carried off. The white cock, held by its tail, was still standing.

We went on to Ubud where I bought a piece of old Bali cloth with some silver thread for 16,000 rp (13) reduced from 18,750 rp and an ikat sarong for 3,000 rp.

Andrew felt unwell in the evening so I took Ian to see the Bali Hyatt hotel. Westre was there and in the absence of Lesmana and Andrew he said that Lesmana was "not good" as Lesmana owed money to Rami (and possibly Westre too). Lesmana had some chinese blood in him, was he being a typical tight-fisted chinese businessman or did he have some good reason for not paying? We never found out. I know that Rami came up to Jakarta to do some finishing touches to the sculptures, perhaps he lost out there.

Bronze drum at Pejeng on 15th April 1979

Bronze drum at Pejeng on 15th April 1979

15th April 1979

We went to Ubud for more shopping then on to Pejeng to see the ancient huge bronze drum, reputed to be about 300 BC, pre-Hindu by 1000 years or more. It was lying on its side, badly broken. We went on to Antonio Blanco's studio in Ubud where he was talking drivel as usual, dressed in exactly the same clothes as last time, flip-flops with thick soles, beret, green velvet trousers and red T-shirt.

We had a drink at our favourite Ubud restaurant where there were some really beautiful girls at the fabric stall then returned to Sanur for lunch at the Taverna. I bought some "young artist" style paintings at a shop near the Gazebo hotel which were similar in style to those done by Sinteg for the Mandarin Hotel, but a lot cheaper. One by Asmara cost 10,000 rp and two by lesser artists cost 7,000 and 8,000 rp.

Bali photos - July 1978
Bali photos - August 1978 and February 1979
Bali photos - April 1979
Bali photos - March 1980
Bali photos - Interhash '82