Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bali - The Barong Dance

Welcome to my first blog of 2010 and Happy New Year!

I realised that I never uploaded photos of the Barong Dance and Ubud that I took when I went to Bali in 2006. It has been a delight to revisit these pictures and memories. I took these photos with my old camera, a Fuji S3500. A 4 megapixel
little wonder!

The Barong dance is an integral part of the life of the Balinese Hindus. In their villages they learn the play from when they are little children and everyone in the village plays a part(s) and/or an instrument. They enact the dance at important religious festivals.

The dance depicts the struggle between good and evil represented by the virtuous lion, Barong and the rather hairy witch, Rangda. You can see Barong in the first photo entering the stage.

The story goes that Rangda, the mother of Erlangga, the King of Bali in the tenth century, was condemned by Erlangga’s father because she practised black magic. After she became a widow, she summoned all the evil spirits in the jungle to come after Erlangga and turned into a terrible Leyal (witch-monster). A fight occurred, but she and her black magic troops were too strong for Erlangga, so Erlangga turned into the Barong (a kind of stylized lion) who represents the good powers. Barong came with Erlangga’s soldiers, the keris dancers, and a fight ensued. Rangda cast a spell that made Erlangga soldiers want to kill themselves by pointing their poisoned keris into their own stomachs and chests. Barong cast a spell that made their body resistant to the sharp keris. In the end, Barong won, and Rangda ran away.

The playful monkey is Barong's partner

Here they are together at the beginning of the

The female dancers are very skilled. Although
Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, Bali is Hindu.
Hinduism has been present in Indonesia since
the first and second millenia of the common era.
The dance originates from India. So the Mudras
(symbolic or ritual gesture) and the dance
moves are very similar to classical Indian
sacred dance

Gorgeous costumes

One of the striking male characters, the prime

In different parts of Bali good is represented
by different protective spirits in the form of
animals, including the boar, dragon and tiger.
The Lion dance is most commonly known
because the lion is the protector of the Ubud
area where so many tourists go

The princess is taken...

.....and tied to the tree to wait for Rangda

Rangda appears and......

...the Princess struggles

The masks of Barong and Rangda are
sacred items. Before they are brought out a
priest must be present to sprinkle them
with holy water and offerings must be made

This is the god Garuda, a mythical bird-like
creature that appears in both Hinduism and
Buddhism. Garuda is the national symbol of

The warriors are bewitched by Rangda and,
in a trance, stab themselves with their
poisoned kris knives

But the Barong enters and casts a counter-spell
so that the warriors are resistant to the poison
and they recover

Good has won but evil has not been
vanquished. Our taxi driver told us that
for the Balinese Hindus there is always a
tension betweeen good and evil and that
evil can never be vanquished forever.
Otherwise how can good exist!
He also told us he had performed in the
dance the night before and had gone
into a trance. He woke up the next day
with his costume all slashed!

Of course music is an essential ingredient
of the performance.The sound is enchanting
and unique. The set of instruments is called
a gamelan. The instruments are built
and tuned to stay and be played together

These last few photos were taken
at a night peformance of bits of
the Lion Barong dance and bits
of the sacred Hindu Ramayana

The quality is not so good. The
camera struggled at low light
with no flash....(my excuse!)

....but it's not too bad,
and I love the facial
expressions of the

and the eyes and hands (the mudras)

This is a traditional Balinese instrument

Next time Ubud in Bali
Hope to see you then

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Warm wishes to all my visitors for the festive season


I went to Orchard Road and an area called City Hall to take a few photos for this Christmas edition.

The national hobby in Singapore is shopping. Orchard Road is the definitive shopping street.
and several new shopping malls have been opened recently, despite the recession!

City Hall has shopping Malls but also the famous Raffles Hotel.

Contrary to what some believe, there is a lot more to Singapore than just the shops, but it does excel.

So here are a few shots to wish you a wonderful time over the next two weeks, whatever you are doing.

I'll be back in the New Year and hope to see you then.


Inside Paragon, a shopping mall on Orchard

Ms Reindeer making herself pretty for
Christmas, or perhaps for.....

.......Mr. Reindeer who's wondering if he's got a
chance with Ms Reindeer

Outside Ion, a flash new shopping Mall
on Orchard Road, the "Urban People"

They say the devil wears Prada. Certainly he's
tempting the Christmas shoppers

Ion and a Christmas tree. Ion is a temple to all
the big fashion houses

A bit more traditional. Raffles Hotel decked
out for Christmas, Check out the website.
See if you can afford it!

Christmas tree at The City Hall
shopping mall

Outside Raffles, looking
towards the Central Business

Christmas tree in Ngee Ann City
on Orchard Road. It's big!

Reflections in the pool (with Christmas lights)
at Spanish Village where Daniela and I live.

It's cooler and wetter at Christmas in
Singapore. Sun and showers but still 28 - 32
Centigrade. No chance of a white Christmas

I finish as I started, inside a Christmas
tree decoration! I hope you find marvellous
gifts under your tree.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Whitstable - "The Pearl of Kent"

Hi and welcome to my blog. 100th post!

For many Londoners who live in the South East of London it is just a short 60 minute drive to Whitstable. In recent years Whitstable has had a renaissance and the price of property, including the famous beach huts, rose by leaps and bounds.

It has a thriving fishing industry and a harbour. It is THE place for oysters, (hence its fame as the "pearl" of Kent) and has a fish market that sells a range of fresh fish. Oysters have been harvested here since Roman times.

There are numerous pubs and this first photo shows one of them: The Ship Centurion, which won the 2007 Kent "Pub of the Year" Award.

It's a British seaside town with real character. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Thanks for coming. The next issue will be in a couple of weeks. The Christmas Issue!


St Alphege's Church, built in
the 1840s. It was close to
Remembrance day, hence the
poppies. Make sure you read
the sign to the right of the
memorial. A fine place to collect
your poppy!!

The High Street

The Royal Naval Reserve pub. Have a look at
the menu. Typical british pub fare!

Another pub and hotel and a striking building.
The Duke of Cumberland

Typical lane with the slatted
buildings that I love

Oyster paradise. I believe you have to book
up far in advance to be sure of a table. If you
click on the link you can see a sample menu

Kent beaches are mostly pebble. The wooden
breaks are known as "groins"

Another view of the restaurant

The oysters themselves, yummy - shame
about the cholesterol.....

Part of the sea front

Close up, though a bit of a face lift would be
in order for Stag Cottage. Spot the seagull
(its bottom!). Perhaps it's the only resident!

Looking over towards the harbour

A sea of snails

The colourful harbour. The other industry of
Whitstable apart from tourism, but which, of
course, adds to the tourist attraction

Sand and gravel

View towards the top end of the harbour

Another example of the
traditional white slatted

Whitstable Alley Ways grew as residents
needed more access to the sea from the High
Street. They were also convenient escape
routes for Kent smugglers of tobacco and spirits,
and people during the Napoleonic wars

High Street Oyster Bar

Young seagull with its baby plumage