Tag Archives: Bali

Rolled Pig

Vegetarians may want to skip this post.  It is also very, very non-kosher and non-halal.  Dieters should also avoid reading this.  There! That should take care of all disclaimers.

“Babi Guling” literally means “Rolled or turned pig” in Bahasa Indonesia but it actually refers to “suckling pig”, a famous Balinese dish.   The suckling pig is stuffed with herbs and shoots and then roasted on a spit until cooked and with its skin crackly and crispy.  And if you were in Bali, everyone would tell you that one of the best places to try this local delicacy is at a small stall or warung caled “Ibu Oka”.

Ibu Ora's the place to go for the best Babi Guling

Ibu Oka is located in Ubud which is a town in the foothills of central Bali.  Ubud is well known as a centre for culture and the arts.  The local temples are full of artistic carvings and are often the sites for cultural dances and performances.  Beautiful pastoral scenes of green paddy fields surround the town and are often the settings where some of the best restaurants and warungs are found.

The Crowd Gathers Early for Lunch


The crowd gathers early for lunch and seating is limited so it would be wise to go early.  There are some tables and seating in the garden area.  Inside, everyone sits on the floor and eats from a low table.


You're lucky to get seating on the floor.

Once you have found a seat, then all that you can do is wait for the pig to arrive.  Watching them prepare the pig can be quite entertaining.


The Pig is Roasted with Herb Stuffing
Yum Yum Yum


With so many hungry customers to serve, the wait at Ibu Oka can be long but if some of your group holds on to the seats, you can wander off to the nearby temple and admire the carvings.

Cultural Distractions Nearby

But the connoisseur generally prefer to wait patiently and try to reach a zen state while waiting to have their  senses blown away by the taste of sweet roasted meat, crackling skin and herbs.

Or You Can Wait and Beg


Our friend Mago does a series on his blog called “Sunday Music” and just recently he covered a song by Annette Hanshaw (1901-1985).  In his post, he included the use of that song in an animated version of the Ramayana story.  A rather unusual combination which you should check out.

Anyway, this reminded me that I had a related post that had long been on the back-burner and I decided it was time to bring it to a boil.

In Bali, Indonesia, there is a dance called the kecak dance in which dancers enact the Ramayana story with musical accompaniment provided by the rhythmic, hypnotic chanting of a large group of men.  It is quite an experience.  I have had the good fortune of witnessing it twice.  Once, I saw it as part of a dinner performance at an international beach hotel in Nusa Dua (which is where all the photos  below were taken) and once at a sunset ceremonial performance at the clifftop temple at Uluwatu.  Of the two, I really must recommend the spectacular setting at the Uluwatu temple which also includes a fire dance.  If you are ever in Bali, this is definitely one of the highlights not to be missed.  To tantalise you, I have included a video by Hawaiian filmmaker and reknown hula dancer Kimokekahuna at the Uluwatu temple.

The Ramayana is a classic Hindu story.  In brief, the kecak dance is about the hero Rama and his beautiful wife Siti.  One day while in the forest, Siti sees a golden deer and begs Rama to capture it for her.  He leaves Siti under the protection of his brother Lakshmana and chases after the deer.  Sometime later, Siti is misled into thinking that she hears Rama calling for help.  Fearful for her husband, she pleads for Lakshmana to go and search for Rama.  Lakshmana is reluctant to do so at first but eventually gives in to her pleas and disappears into the forest looking for Rama.

But it was all a ploy to get Siti alone and unprotected and she is kidnapped by the demon King Ravana and taken to his kingdom of Lanka.  The rest of the story is about how Rama defeats Ravana and rescues Siti with the help of the white monkey king, Hanuman and his army of monkeys.


Kecak Dance and Dinner at the Grand Hyatt, Nusa Dua, Bali.


The Bad Guy Appears


Fight! Fight! Fight!


Left to Right: The Golden Deer, Little Tourist and Some Character that I Can't Remember


The Bad Guys After Losing Again


The White Monkey King Giving Me the Thumbs Up


Vodpod videos no longer available.



Bird Watching Out

Despite having worked with in a nature conservation job for some 15 years and having been surrounded at times by fervent birdwatching fanatics who are lovingly referred to as “twitchers”, its only in the last two years that I have given in and spent sometime doing birdwatching.

You have to understand that while birdwatching may have a large appeal to humans, generally with squirrels it is more a case of  “bird watching out” as it seems a number of species of birds like to make a meal of squirrels.  One of the squirrels that I got to know, Speedy, was quite brave and would stand his grown and fight off crows twice his size who were attracted to the nuts that I left out for him.  But generally for squirrels it is; “Bird! Watch Out!”

Fortunately, all the birds which I photographed below are squirrel friendly and taken at no serious risk to this squirrel.  (All Photos by LGS and taken in Bali, 2010 and 2011)

A Heron? Maybe a Juvenile Chinese Pond Heron?
An Intermediate Egret?
Spotted Dove (This one I am sure!)
White-breasted Waterhen
Black-crowned Night-heron
Collared Kingfisher

A Hammock With a View

You can’t escape from your roots.  We can’t escape from the strong influences of our childhood experiences.

I like traveling and if you were to ask me what my travel or holiday preference is; I would naturally say that I enjoy being near rivers and lakes and in the mountains.  I do not think of myself as a beach person.

But here’s the thing.  When I was growing up. about the only holiday that we had as a family was a beach holiday in a place called Port Dickson in Malaysia, which in its heyday could rival the best beaches in the world (today it has been ruined by excessive and irresponsible development).  So I grew up with a great love of the beach and sea.

I am not sure, why I drifted away from this early passion but I spent most of my adult traveling away from the beach.  However, in the last five years, I have had the opportunity to visit Bali, Indonesia on three occasions.   Now Bali is much more than just the beach.  It has culture, arts, crafts, history, festivals, music, rice fields, temples, volcanoes, a unique way of life, charming people and much, much more.

But especially this last trip, I re-connected with the sea and the beach.  This trip I made it a point not to travel all over the island in pursuit of culture and sight seeing.  This trip was all about relaxing on the beach; enjoying a dip in the sea, playing with the exciting surf and beach-combing during low tide.  And for most of the time, just lying in the shade of beach side trees, catching the cool sea breeze, snoozing or enjoying the view.  And though I was enjoying the experience in the “now”, it also re-awoken the child in me and the childhood memories of Port Dickson.

So, the Lone Grey Squirrel went away on a mission to be a beach bum………mission accomplished!  I just wanted to share with you the view that I had from my spot under the shade trees which I lazily took with my camera while still in a reclining position.

The View Above Me - Blue Skies
The View In Front - Blue Seas
The View to the Side - Blue Bikini

Ah, a feast for eyes and senses.

A Different Kind of Memorial

I know that our American friends have just celebrated their Memorial Day during which they honor their servicemen and those who have fought for their country. During a visit to Kerta Gosa, Bali, I came across a very different kind of memorial monument. It was not to honor their heroes and victorious warriors but to remember their honorable defeat and annihilation.

Kerta Gosa was built on 1686 by the First King of Klungkung, Ida I Dewa Agung Jambe as part of his palace in Klungkung that was called Semara Pura which means ‘A holy place for love and beauty’. Kerta Gosa consists of two buildings (Bale akerta gosa and Bale Kambang) set within a garden and lake complex called Taman Gili. The former functioned as a Court of Justice and the latter which was beautifully positioned in the centre of the gardens, functioned as a meeting place or an audience hall for the King. It is also called the Floating Hall as it is surrounded by a lake.

Both these buildings have elaborately decorated ceilings consisting of panels painted in the two-dimensional “wayang” or puppet style and have been called Bali’s Sistine Chapel. The paintings centre round the journey of Bima Swarga through heaven and hell to try to rescue and redeem his parent’s soul. In turn though, it reminded convicts awaiting trial the kind of suffering and punishments that await them in hell. Some of these are quite grotesque.

(video & photos by LGS)

Just across the road from Kerta Gosa is another all together different monument. It is called the Puputan monument and it and the painting below remembers the tragic end of the kingdom. Puputan refers to the suicidal last stand of the local defenders in the face of overwhelming odds.
Those that could would die fighting but others including women would ritually commit suicide rather than be subject to rule by foreign conquerors. A number of notable puputans occured in Bali between 1906-1908. Such a disaster happened at Klungkung Palace on 18th April 1908 when faced with invading Dutch soldiers equipped with modern firepower. The battle was completely one-sided and several thousands were killed.

This is the ugly side of colonialisation and imperialism and its human costs to the practically defenceless local populations and this too should never be forgotten.


The Lone Grey Squirrel, he isn’t here.
The tracks are old and the nuts untouched
He’s not zipping around in high gear
Enquiries have so far not uncovered much

They search for him high
They search for him low
O how they search, how they try
To discover where did that rodent go.

The nut mines, he escaped this week
Taking an opportunity to break free
This LGS whom some readers may seek
Has gone to try the beaches of Bali.