Cafe Wayan for dinner – sketching that thing

wayan_decorationBroni had been sick since the cremation on Saturday, but bravely pulled herself together to go up the volcano for the day. She is so glad she did.

Note: WordPress is playing funny games with me about the order of my posts. You may have missed yesterday’s post, about the trip up Mt Agung. It took me days to write, and  has one of my better sketches. Please have a look if you’ve missed it.

But when we got back to Ubud, Broni only wanted to go straight to bed without any dinner.

I decided to go to Cafe Wayan and eat Nasi Campur. Broni had eaten it one time previously and raved about it. So it was my turn.  As I went out the door with my sketchbook, she said ‘don’t forget to draw that thing‘. What thing?

As soon as I entered Cafe Wayan, a member of staff came forward to seat me. I looked around wildly. What thing? He seated me with ‘a view of the garden’, though the garden was dark. I was seated in the restaurant proper, rather than one of the pavilions, and I knew there was plenty to sketch there. I looked all around …what thing?

And in my blind spot, right behind my head was the ‘thing’. All along the roads, when we travel around Bali, we see shops with these decorative ‘things’ hanging up in large quantities. They are about three feet tall, I would guess. I called the waiter over and said “I would like to move to that table and sit there please. No problem. The ‘thing’ actually had two bottles of wine in front of it, which I edited out. Now I regret it, because it would show the size. I think they came up to about the lowest red dot.

Next time I go to Bali I will photograph some of these shops, and also the shops with the ornate carved doors. There are arts and crafts all along the country roads.

(Yes, the Nasi Campur was as good as she said).




Filed under Bali, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Following the path of the Night of Purnama

mt_agungPurnama is the night of the full moon.  In 1963 an English couple went to live high up on the slopes of Mt Agung,  this supposedly extinct volcano. On the night of Purnama,  the volcano blew its top. Things became very dramatic for several months, and Anna Mathews wrote a book about it, The Night of Purnama (Oxford in Asia Paperbacks). I have had this book for some years, and long been interested in going high up on Mt Agung to see where this all took place. I forced Broni to read the book, and once she had done so she was just as keen as I was.


Ikat weaving at Sidemen

The first part of the book is about the English couple coming to grips with living in Bali. Then the volcano erupts.  Balinese Hindu religion revolves around the Kalender Bali and  the ceremonies necessary to please/placate the gods. In 1963, a ceremony held once every hundred years, called Eka Dasa Rudra was due to be held high on Mt Agung, at Besakih, the mother temple. Travel agents from all over the world were due to arrive in Bali to see this spectacle. Consequently the government was keen to play down what was happening in East Bali, and the people affected were on their own.


Ergonomic seating at ikat weaving establishment

The Mathews lived in a high village called Iseh which is on a ridge looking directly across to the volcano, so they had a birds’ eye view. About two thousand people in the villages were killed. Those who were still alive came down the mountain to avoid the lava. And went back up. They had nowhere else to go, and they wanted to protect any livestock or property they had left.

From Iseh, the Mathews could see the lights going back up the mountain at night, even though it was forbidden. They were friendly with a village headman/policeman and went with him up to the high villages and saw the death and devastation (and picked up a small puppy that they eventually took back to England.)  Anna Mathews walked to Klung Kung and then Sanur.Having been up there now, it is just incredible. Read the book! I can’t tell the whole story, though I would like to. It’s gripping.

We first went to Sidemen. It was surprisingly high already. We stopped at a place where they were handweaving ikat cloth. No OH&S in Sidemen, or ergonomics. This is where my beautiful sarong had been made. I had seen ikat made before, but it was a more comprehensive look at the process here.


Quarry for lava.

All the way up the road there were many trucks, carrying lava down to be used in building. At each small village would be a small roadblock of villagers taxing the trucks with a small fee (for ruining the road). Which they were. We passed up through Selat, a market town that features in the book, and beyond that we came to the quarry where the trucks were loading up with the lava. A little further on, we found a cliff overlooking the quarry where were able to stop and take photos.

We went further up, on and on. No trucks now. I wanted to visit the high villages where the people died and see what he terrain was like.  Even on the Bali Pathfinder map (produced in Bali) not all the villages were showing. Had they been wiped out? There were two villages, Badeg Tengah and Badeg Kelodan, that I wanted to see. The people of one of those villages had practised black magic, so I wondered if a driver would take us. In fact our driver had not been there before, and we left him blissfully unaware of the black magic.  So,up we went, through the Badegs. I hadn’t been able to find a village called Sorgres on the map. It was the village where the Mathews found their puppy. However on the way back down, our driver spotted a  ‘Selamat Datang” (welcome) sign for Sorgra. It still exists, but is not even ‘a pub and a petrol pump’.


Steps up to the temple.

We came to the end of the road at Pura Pasar Agung (Temple of Agung market). The temple was way out of sight beyond the top of many stairs. We didn’t go up. We took photos of the vista from the car park. We could see for miles, all the way to the coast, but we were so high that in the photographs the landscape is obscured by the atmosphere.


View from the restaurant at Rendang


Iseh. The house of the Mathews is near the parked cars on the left.

We turned around and went down on our way to Iseh, which was on a different road, below Selat. We took a side trip for lunch near a town called Rendang. A hideous buffet at a restaurant with a beautiful view. That is where I sketched. When I looked at my photos aftwerwards, I was amazed how much more clearly I could see the distant landscape at the time, rather than in the photograph. Lost in the atmospheric mist.


Looking across at Mt Agung from the road near the house at Iseh

After lunch we continueds to Iseh, where we located the house where the Mathews lived. There are black and white photos in the book, and we saw the same view across to the mountain which unfortunately was obscured by cloud.

Many of these places we visited are not on any map. Google is not good with Indonesia. You will find Sidemen, Selat, Iseh and probably Pura Pasar Agung at the end of the road, but the smaller villages don’t exist for most maps.

Thoughts from the day…. It was greener than I expected up near the end of the road. No lava flowing now or volcanic gases. The distances were phenomenal. It is steep and it is a long way. And it is HOT. Having both recently read the book we could appreciate the difficulty of walking the distances involved. We are both SO glad we went.


Filed under Bali, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils

Sketching with Urban Sketchers Bali (again)

kangen_fruitOut Sunday morning with the Urban Sketchers, Bali, who again had come up to Ubud to sketch with me. Thanks to Peny Setyowati who gets a group together to sketch with me very time I come to Bali. We first met two years ago at the Museum of Bali, and again in February at the Antonio Blanco Museum. Poor Broni was back at the hotel in bed, suffering from the after-effects of the three hours in the hot sun at the pelebon at Peliatan the previous day.

jalan_suwetaThis time we met at a new juice bar in Jalan Suweta, just around the corner from the Main Street in Ubud. (Oh I hate these American apps that keep capitalising Main Street.) Mango and papaya juice – yum.

The split gate I sketched was in the property next to the juice bar. I can’t help myself, sketching the Balinese architecture, but the Balinese Urban Sketchers usually sketch something else. Many of them are architects, and I guess they are used to it.  I thought it was a temple because of many shrines inside the property, but it was a private residence. Nice residence.

Then of course I had to sketch the fruit.  Afterwards we had a late lunch at Warung Ijo near the Ubud market.  Very inexpensive and delicious.  I really enjoy going out with the Urban Sketchers in Bali, and I think they are getting used to this foreigner turning up from time to time.

I walked back to the hotel. There is a quick way, down through the mabali_truckrket and behind the football field. At the back of the market, the road was full of Asian tourists ambling about (I always go to the upstairs market, because the sellers there do a starve by comparison.) Through came this truck, carrying Balinese ladies with offerings, forced to creep through the oblivious tourists.  Eat-pray-lovers, up in Ubud for the day, I expect.

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Kebaya fashion

ThrIMG_4902-0ough my research into modern Kebayas, I have learnt that it was a a PELEBON we attended. A NGABEN is an ordinary cremation and a pelebon is a royal one.The thing that fascinated me was the royal women and their clothing.  I have never seen kebayas like this before and nor has a Balinese friend who is very interested in fashion. She said this is the Very Lastest. This photo of two of the younger ones and their beautiful kebayas. The royal women all came out of the palace quite fast, wearing black kebayas and mostly red sashes, but some orange also, like these two.  Look at the heels. I only wish I had better photos, but I will also show you links. me_kebaya

The procession was from the palace in Peliatan to The cremation ground in Jalan Raya Ubud. Uphill and quite a distance. Some of the royal women where not so young. This very old photo of me is to show the Bali Virgins what a standard kebaya looks like. They are mostly worn with longer points at the front now, and heavier lace. My sarong is looking very baggy. The photo must have been taken later in the day.

IMG_5055These two elegant women caused a stir as they came by us in the palace. They were obviously important. I am only sorry that you can’t see their shoes. Most of them seemed to have high wedge sandals or stilettos. It seems from one of the videos I have watched that the women were all holding on to a sheet in the procession, which may or may not have been attached to the tower. Let me repeat. It was HOT. They wore sarongs, no doubt a corset or bustier, heels, and they went up the hill at nearly a run in that heat. And some of them were as old as me. Tougher than me. IMG_4900

Another thing that was different was that all these women had handbags. In this case a big designer bag. Wearing a sarong, a handbag makes me feel such a tourist, but maybe I’ve been wrong. Maybe it makes me look rich and cosmopolitan. These were definitely cosmopolitan women.

These kebayas  are not so bare as they look. They have fine flesh coloured netting.  The latest fashion. Short sleeved kebayas are apparently fashion also, but a male Balinese friend tells me that the priests don’t like them worn to the temple. That sounds like any priest of any religion. Most of the younger royals seem to be wearing short sleeved, and even some of the older women are wearing shorter than the traditional long sleeve.

If you want to see some beautiful kebayas, you may be able to see Monika Weber’s beautiful kebayas on Facebook. Failing that, her bridal wear is on her website.

I found some modern kebayas to be bought online at Bali Kebaya in the blog post about Kebaya Chic. Have a hunt around if you are interested. “Bali modern kebayas.” The Balinese are not the only ones who wear kebayas. Women in kebayas from other parts of Indonesia will probably have their heads covered, as they will be Muslim, whereas the Balinese religion is Hindu. But other countries in south east Asia also wear them. I wonder what kebaya I will end up buying. I think I will have one made. It is going to be rich deep turquoise. Shall I have some gold swathes? No, cerise.


Filed under Bali, Travel

A Royal Cremation

pelebonTo me, a royal cremation is a ‘bucket list’ thing. It’s not something you can plan. You just have to be there at the right time. And we were!

I used to wear a sarong around Ubud a lot in the old days, but it was so long ago that I had forgotten how to tie it. A housekeeper to the rescue. Now we find why my expensive sarong was worth the money (apart from the fact that it is beautiful). It is long enough to tie. Broni’s sarong from Ubud Market was not, and that would have given me a terrible feeling of insecurity. Not the best photo, but it is all I have. Getting a new kebaya next time. 

Whole post about kebaya coming up… sketches, just a few photos.

I IMG_4843have noticed that people who have not been to Bali become uncomfortable when I say I am going to a cremation. It is a great spectacle, and not a time for sadness. There are videos on YouTube, and you can watch how exciting and spectacular it is. This one was filmed by a bystander (9 min). Well worth watching to see the speed they go! You can read a little more about the rites and traditions here as they relate to this particular royal Balinese lady, A. A. Sri Wirastuti. A.A. Stands for Anak Agung and shows her rank also.  The body will be taken up a ramp to the tower, and the tower will be carried through the streets by many many men, followed by the procession. Her tower has nine roofs (meru) denoting her rank.

At 11am Nyoman takes us around the back streets between Ubud and Peliatan and drops us right opposite the palace. He tells us we can go in, which surprises us. But everyone is going in and out. First we photograph the tower and the bull. At the cremation ground, the body will be placed in the bull to be burnt.

IMG_4851Then we go into the palace where entertainment is going on. A band has finished and now there is dancing.

There are some seats, though they are full.There  is not much shade and it is very very hot. A lot of the men who are helpers are waiting to do their stuff. They have white cloths tied around their head cloths.

It is HOT. It is so very hot! I find a patch of shade and sketch some of the faces while standing. I never do that! But it is my only opportunity. I photograph faces also. I notice the royal ladies and their clothing. That is the standout thing for the day for me. It will be another blog post with links and photos

 Then everyone makes for the gate of the palace and the procession is getting ready to go. Not long after midday! I had expected from previous experience that it would be 4pm. They carry the coffin to the tower and the are DRONES! Yes, a YouTube video courtesy of the royals (21 min).

The procession takes off – fast. They do a turn with the tower to shake off evil spirits and away they go. We can’t keep up. It is too hot. My sarong is stuck to my sweaty ankles and I can barely walk, hampered also by the state of the pavements. I admire these mature Balinese royals in their high heeled shoes who must be semi jogging. But I can’t do it. It is uphill all the way from the palace in Peliatan to the Ubud Main Street where the cremation ground is. We make it there, but smoke is already drifting. We decide we are Too Hot. We luckily find a taxi driver and we go back to the hotel for banana pancakes with ice cream and a cool lemon juice. We sleep. Broni gets heat exhaustion and is sick for a few days.

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The buddha by the pool

buddhaAt the back of Cendana Hotel, by the saltwater infinity pool is a large Buddha on a plinth. It was time I sketched it, so I was back in the same little pavilion.

A fairly quiet day around Ubud, because of a BIG day coming up tomorrow.

We had been to Bintang Supermarket again to buy Kopiko coffee sweets. I had introduced Broni to them on our previous visit and she wanted to buy large quantities of them to take home. You can buy them in all the mini marts, but not always the Cappuccino ones, and she wanted them too.

Then we got a ride to the Tropical View cafe where we ate mee goreng. I thought it was sensational mee goreng. I eat it everywhere, but Tropical View is my favourite so far. Swimming again, then dinner at Sagittarius. Best Satay Lilit.


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Sketching the rice fields as the sun goes down

ricefieldsWhen I sketched the rice fields at the beginning of my trip, they were under water. Now the rice has been planted. They started planting the most distant fields first, and already they are greener than the ones done a day later. The ducks have gone now, but the herons still come. The hotel has an infinity pool overlooking the rice fields, and swallows come and swoop through the top of the water. I sit in a pavilion right at the back of the property, as it has comfortable chairs and a table, so it is a great place to sketch.

I took the photo below as I sat down to sketch, in case I didn’t finish it ( though I did). Plenty of watercolour, slopped on quickly.  So as you see it was already late in the day.

After an early morning battle with the lack of wifi, we were told that the technician was coming, so we gave up and went out. More gift shopping at the market. A birthday present to go to NZ, and a kimono for ME. My newest Bali kimono is ten years old. I had been bemoaning the fact that though there are lovely new sarong fabrics, none are being made into kimonos. Then I found one. Acid green with various pinks and oranges. It’s wild!

It was a very hot day so we had to have another pink drink at Oops, opposite the market.  Couldn’t decide about lunch and ended up at Kopi Bali House having another frozen moccachino and some calamari rings.  We then sprinted (for some reason unknown to me) up the Monkey Forest Road in the hot hot sun, back to the hotel. We then had to lay on our beds to cool down before we could get our bathing suits on and get in the pool.  Then sketch, followed by yummy cap cay at Cafe Wayan. Close to the hotel as were were not keen to repeat the sprint.


Filed under Bali, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, Uncategorized, watercolour