|With Dave gone, I started feeling pretty lazy and slept in pretty late. My big plan for today was to go to the Temple of Uluwatu and see the Balinese Kecak Dance at sunset. I wandered around a little while, but a guy who sold tours convinced me that I shouldn't wait to late to head down there. Apparently, it was farther than I expected. I found a taxi and headed South to the Temple overlooking the ocean.
Uluwatu is a beautiful place and worth some wandering around. It also hosts a cluster of monkeys who are very aggressive. They have learned that if they steal from tourists--their glasses, camera, or hat--they can barter that item for some food. And the locals are there to help them by selling food to the tourists and then helping them get the monkeys to drop whatever it is they have stolen. Saw it happen a few times and kept my camera tight in my fingers.
After snapping some pictures of the temple on the cliff and wandering the grounds, I just sat down to await the tickets to go on sale.
The dance itself is crazy. You have to get there early to get a decent seat, though after my legs were cramping through the last half, I was wondering if it would have been better to get there later and get one of the folding chairs they set up for late-comers. There is no music to the dance, rather it is performed to Kecak, Monkey Chant. A group of bare-chested men run into the amphitheatre, chanting tak tak tak, and moving rhythmically to the sound. In some ways, this chorus is the show. The dancers are sort of set pieces that move the show along, but the Kecak choir is what is unique.
The story is about Rama and his wife Sita in the forest. They see a faun and Rama leaves Sita in the care of his brother as he runs off to shoot it. However, Sita hears yelling and, fearing for Rama, sends his brother to look for him. Meanwhile, the evil Bagra comes to capture Sita. She is protected by a magic circle of chorus-ers and he can't get to her. Then, he disguises himself as a beggar, gains her sympathy, and when she comes to give him food, he captures her and drags her away.
Meanwhile, Rama discovers she has been taken and enlists the aid of the white monkey to regain her. They track down Bagra. Rama does battle with him and gets his wife back. Well, something like that. They worked pretty hard to make the dance entertaining and funny and sometimes the interaction of the white monkey caused me to lose the story. Still, it was lots of fun.
After the show, my legs were aching. I made my way out and realized I was about the only person there who didn't have a taxi waiting for me. Hm. I wonder how big a problem this is going to be. I walked past this guy's house that had "transport" on a sign in his front yard. He saw me and called me over. For 250,000 rupia he would take me back to my hotel. That's about $22. Seemed like a deal to me. The guy was a bit of a crazy driver. He wanted to avoid traffic so he kept driving through these little backroads. Great place for a murder, I thought. But, in about an hour, he had me back at the Taxa Uma.