I was staying in Ubud, the arts (and enlightened tourist) capital of Bali. I was staying in the Saggitarius, a hotel off of Monkey Forest Road in Ubud.
My schedule was getting tight and I had decided to leave that day to go back to Kuta Beach so I could catch my flight that left at like 8am the next day.
"You will not see funeral? You must see funeral."
This guy who worked in my hotel, one day before, he took me aside and showed me his paintings. They were rolled up, painted on cloth. They were carefully done and you could see that he really loved his work. I told him I would think about it.
It was strange seeing him work at Saggitarius. Here's an artist, but he's little more than a janitor in this place. I keep having images of him and his coworkers with long poles, poking flower blossoms from the trees that were right in the courtyard. They used the flower blossoms to put in the hands and hair of the statues.
It's not a "Hotel" like in a city. You walk up the driveway from the street and you get to a large backyard courtyard sortof. As you walk down the path, small buildings house two or four rooms for guests. See photos elsewhere.
A day later here he was wearing his little Balinese hat-scarf (making him look somewhat like a food service person), telling me about this big event. Apparently there was a big funeral, involving public cremation, and it was happening today. I could stay here another night and leave early in the morning and catch my plane to Sulawesi.
When I asked him who was being cremated, he said "My king." OK. Whatever. This is apparently a big thing and one of the major reasons people go to Bali, to watch one of these ceremonies. Go there at 11am, the center of town.
So I go to the main street like he tells me and I'm asking around for where the funeral is. One person tells me to go further up the street. Further up, someone else says to go back. I'm confused until I realize it hasn't started yet. We're on Indonesia time! Relax.
I found in a sidestreet where they were all preparing it. There was two main... er... floats. It took a few hours for them to get it together, and I spent that time talking to European tourists and buying film.
I bought a small band of cloth that you tie around your waist, not a sarong, I dunno what you call them, but I bargained the woman from 7000 rups down to 2500. That's like a buck.
There was the tower thing, and the horse thing.
I think those are the technical words for them.
They each have a foundation of bamboo rods lashed together, and a small army of Balinese to carry it.
There was a guy full-time with a pole who stayed with the tower thing. His job was, when they had to get it past some power wires in the street, to lift the wires up and let the tower pass under.
The idea during this part of the parade is to confuse the spirits, who want to get in... somewhere, and ... I dunno, infect something. So anyway the guys carrying the floats, they jerk it from side to side in the street. The addition of camera-wielding tourists adds to the confusion.
Noise, music, whatever. I didn't claim to understand it. There were all sorts of stuff that people were selling there. But the only thing you couldn't buy was one of those cool black teeshirts.
The funeral procession went down the street with western tourists and their cameras crawling all over.
The funeral procession also has people carrying things for this person to use in the afterlife. Like maybe some cake for desert.
A little pork for the main course.
The local garrison came out to march in the parade.
Finally they arrived in the town... i don't know what you'd call it, maybe like the fairgrounds. This was where all the cremations happened. I guess it's not the fairgrounds. Hey, I don't know. I grew up in a town where they just didn't do public cremations.
They loaded the corpse into the assembly. It was a surprise to me that it wasn't already in.
I was on a small mound in the middle of the fairgrounds. Note arm of northern European tourist who was really tall. He was in front of everybody.
In these funerals they had this torch, a flame burner at the end of a long post, that they stuck under the body to do the job right. I guess. Never did it before myself. But it did seem rather bogus.
They started burning it. Nobody was yelling out "Burn it!" as in Burning Man. But some of the tourists were pretty obnoxious and getting in the way. Mysteriously the Balinese didn't seem to mind this western intrusion.
They also burned this other thing that they carried out here.
At a certain point, it was like 3pm and I decided I wasn't going to see anything I hadn't seen already. It was turning into the same thing you get in Western funerals or weddings, lots of pomp and it's really boring, unless you are one of the ones who's crying. But nobody was crying here, I don't know.
I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping around for cybercafes.
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