Paul and Nyoman picked us up at our hotel in Seminyak and we drove about 45 minutes to the small village of Lodsema, located about 10 minutes south of Ubud. This is where Nyoman and his family live, and where Paul built his villa almost 10 years ago. The place was stunning! Paul has a two-story home with an extensive tropical garden (my favorite kind of garden), pool and guesthouse surrounded by jungle. It's a paradise you have to see to believe. Here are a few pictures, which really don't do it justice:
We timed our visit perfectly, since the village was in the midst of a religious festival celebration that happens once very 50 years. The 4 sub-villages in this area attend the Hindu temple called Pura Dalem Desa Mawang. Religion is extremely important to the local people. They pray several times a day and regularly contribute to the temple with offerings and services.
Everyone who enters the temple must wear traditional attire – a sarong, sash/temple scarf around the waist and a head scarf for men.
The Balinese fundamentally belive in the balance of power - dharma which is something like order and adharma which is its opposite - disorder. They have a dance ritual where the Barong - a lion-like or pig-like creature representing dharma - battles Rhangda the witch, who represents adharma. The dance often ends with neither side winning, because the point is to restore balance. The Balinese also believe that the Barong will protect them from things like disease and other impurities. We didn't see the Barong dance at this temple, but we did see one the next morning, which I'll write about in the next post.
Balinese Hindu have many religious stories involving their gods. During these festivals, they use various methods to tell these stories including dance, plays and shadow puppets.
After the temple ceremony, Chris really wanted to sample some local cuisine. Nyoman told us about this little place near the house that sold local Balinese food. A warung is a little family-owned neighborhood cafe or food stall. Being of weak stomach, I decided to pass on lunch here. Chris and Nyoman, on the other hand, enjoyed every last morsel!
Kites are a big part of Balinese culture. When we landed at the airport, we saw an array of kites in the air. On our first afternoon in Ubud, Nyoman brought us next door to his brother's house where his sister-in-law was painting beautiful kites. This was our first glimpse at the artistic talent prevalent throughout this area.
To officially welcome us to the village, Paul and Nyoman arranged for the local girls to perform a traditional Balinese dance for us at the house. They were gorgeous! They performed four dances:
1) Welcome Dance
2) Golden Deer
All the girls aspire to be the peacocks, but we enjoyed all four dances equally. These girls were beautiful, graceful and really embodied the persona of each dance.
We capped off our first day in Ubud at one of Paul's local haunts, the Fly Cafe in Ubud, where we joined his local team for weekly pub trivia night! While we didn't end up winning trivia, we had a great time and a lot of laughs.
It's hard to believe we saw so much in just our first afternoon with Paul and Nyoman. Stay tuned for lots more adventures in our next few posts!