Merlion symbol of Singapore

Friday, January 20, 2012


My friend Lydia came from California last week for a visit to Singapore and Bali. We did the standard sightseeing activities of Singapore; water taxi on the river, drinks at the top of the Marina Bay Sands, plus many museums looking at art and textiles. It was interesting to see the city through an artist's eyes. We were lucky to find the decorated elephants all lined up ready for auction the following week. There were 162 of them displayed first around Singapore and then all together in the Botanic Garden; what a sight. They ended up raising over $1million for the Save the Asian Elephants campaign. The one decorated like a durian fruit was a personal favorite.

From Singapore we flew to Bali for four days, staying in Ubud, the artist capital of Bali. We were able to visit artist studios, weaving shops, museums, do several hikes and walk on the beach. Although the Ubud area has grown immensely since my first visit 25 years ago, there are still a lot of quiet, agricultural areas and many temples. The Balinese are mainly Hindu and worship multiple gods; giving offerings daily. Every morning at our bungalow the staff would be out placing the small offerings not only at the temple area but along the walkways and on their vehicles. The people are so friendly, and beautiful, especially the kids.

As usual we had to have an adventure. Following the guide book for a hike between Kastala and Tenganan to see the ancient village and weaving there; our driver dropped us off as close as he could get to Kastala. Even getting there involved stopping to ask locals along the way, getting lots of advice and probably telling our driver we were crazy! We got to Kastala and were greeted by a family requesting a "donation" to get across the bamboo bridge to start the hike. We signed the register and paid our donation and were told we really needed a guide. As the price seemed high and the guidebook indicated it was a known trail we started down the hill. The guide continued telling us we needed help and dropped his price. He seemed knowledgeable and the price dropped to $5 for each of us so we hired him. What a life saver, we would never have found our way after getting across the bamboo bridge-which consisted of three large pieces of bamboo lashed together. The trail was mostly along a water canal to bring water to the rice fields and often was through the fields themselves. We came upon small villages and a school, but then would set off through the jungle again. In one village our guide found his buddies and we stopped for a drink of rice wine; one sip was plenty. We watched them thrashing rice by hand and sweeping it off the driveway into bags for market. Just as we came to the end the skies opened up and it started pouring. Our guide had us run to a home of some people he knew and they fed us pineapple, durian, bananas and showed us their basket weaving and cloth weaving as we waited out the storm. The rest of the walk then became wading through a stream that the trail had become to get from the village. In the end it was the best $5 we spent and we gave him a large tip for getting us through the rice fields and out of the rain.
To see Lydia's pictures of the trip go to:
More Save the Elephants statues, auctioned off to raise money for Asian Elephants

Save the Elephants Campaign, this one decorated to look like a Durian fruit
Shop in Celeluk, town known for silver work

Offerings at our bungalow
Local stonework

Home and artist studio and temple; all in one

11th century memorials to royalty
White herons in the trees, they look like flowers

Water temple, women are being blessed in the water

Rice terraces and worker

Yarn being dyed before putting on the loom
Lydia and I walking through the rice fields

Kids going down the water canal on a banana tree stalk

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