Wednesday 24 July 2013

Saturday in Singaraja

The Rektor of the University is keen for Laurel and I to get out and about, to see more of Bali, in our spare time.  This has made it much easier to request a car and driver to take us to places of interest away from Kampus (Indonesian spelling using "k" for the "hard c" - very sensible).  Last Saturday we drove (no, the English teacher in me says "were driven") north across the mountainous centre of Bali to the north coast.  Light rain was falling in Dalung when we left, and as we went north and into the mountains the rain and fog increased.  Pura Bratan in Lake Bratan, near Bedugal, could barely be seen through the cloud.  Once we were over the crest and on the northern edge of the mountains we left the cloud and drove into bright sunshine.  Once on the north coast we felt hot again.

Singaraja is the capital of the Bulelung Regency (one of the 8 administrative subdivisions of Bali which were based on the old Kingdoms of pre-Dutch times).  It was the Dutch capital of Bali until after independence when Denpasar was chosen.  A north coast seaport was much more convenient to the Dutch as this was within easy reach of other important colonial cities around the Java and Bali Seas.  The south coast was further away, and was also exposed to the swells and storms of the Indian Ocean.  Now the port has largely silted up and sea traffic either goes around the island to Benoa in the south or to another port in the west.  The city's name means "Lion King" - and it's the same "Singa" (Lion) as in "Singapore" and "Singha" beer of Thailand.  I wonder if Disney has tried to get a "royalty fee" for using "their name"!
Singaraja's "Lion King"
The Winged Lion, the symbol of the city, can be found in many places around the city.  The main statue is rich in symbolism beyond the representation of the lion.  The large base is 5-sided and represents the Pancasila (or Five Principles which underpin modern Indonesian society).  Each wing contains 17 long feathers; the lion holds a sheaf of corn with 8 leaves and 45 grains.  The "17", "8" and "45" represent the date of Indonesian Independence 17/8/(19)45.

The winged lion atop his 5-sided column

The winged lion in stone and on the city's emblem
 You can spot many little things which are novel to us, but which are essentially Balinese. 
Some traffic lights have a miniature Balinese roof
made of "ijuk", the black fibre from the sugar palm.
It is commonly used for sacred temple structures.
We visited the small Buleleng Museum, now housed in the main building of a compound which was formerly a Dutch colonial administrative centre. Although the display and storage environment would appal western conservation specialists, the local staff have done their best to display an interesting collection of artefacts, photographs and paintings.  Some of the archaeological finds go back to Neolithic and Bronze ages.

The Buleleng Museum on the southern approach to Singaraja

An interesting pair of "handbags".   The left example is carved from wood and was used for carrying a stock of betel nut.  Just the thing for a casual chew!
A "pocket sized" mortar and pestle for grinding betel nut into a paste.

Close to the waterfront in what was the heart of the old dock area is the colourful Chinese temple of Ling Gwan Kiong.  It's a good indication of the importance of the non-Balinese groups in this area.

Ling Gwan Kiong temple, Singaraja

It was hot on the land, but gentle sea breezes made the end of the short pier a pleasant place to enjoy a cool drink and small snack.
At the end of the pier you can escape from the heat on the waterfront
One of the many mosques in Singaraja is visible from the sea side
On the waterfront in the old dock area is the conspicuous monument to Yudha Mandala Tama, a Balinese freedom fighter killed by gunfire from a Dutch warship early in the struggle for liberation from the colonists.
Yudha Mandala Tama points out to sea from his elevated platform

Laurel decides to take it easy
whilst I look for new attractions

After our brief visit to Singaraja we set off to the "renowned" beach resort of Lovina, some 12 km to the west.  Lovina is perhaps best known as the place to spot dolphins.  Most mornings at sunrise a few turn up, braving the many pursuing powerboats in the expectation of getting fish.  It has the reputation of being "laid back" and "peaceful", which it certainly was.  The "resort area" stretches along several kilometres of beach frontage and it's hard to point to any real focus.  Unlike 2011 when enterprising hawkers pursued us along the beach, this visit was very low key.  There were few people on the beach, and all was quiet.  We ate lunch at yet another "Bintang" café ("bintang" means "star" - it's just popularly associated with the beer) and tried to explain some of the finer points of an AFL match screening on a large TV to Vivi, an Undhira student from East Java, with good English skills and a sense of adventure.
Fishing boats at Lovina
It's hot out there!  Vivi takes shelter whilst capturing an image

Fishing boats ride at anchor off Lovina Beach
The beach shelter offers a little relief from the sun
After a beach stroll, lunch and a coffee we returned to the vehicle and started the home journey.  As we started the long climb up the northern slopes of the mountains we could see dark clouds gathering on the peaks.  The light was fading when we reached the parking area for Gitgit Falls.  The name is pronounced with a hard "G" (as in the "g" of get) rather than the soft "g" because "jit-jit" means "bottoms".  We walked in to the falls, past the many now-closed stalls and encountered very few traders trying to sell their wares.
Small rice terraces along the path to Gitgit Falls.  The
smoke from smouldering rubbish spoils so many views.
Recently planted rice seedlings

Because of recent rain there was a reasonable flow of water coming over the 40m falls and some hardy (or perhaps "foolhardy"?) Australians had just left the water.
The falls from downstream

Laurel and Vivi at Gitgit Falls
From Gitgit we drove south and up into the mountains where we soon encountered fog and rain.  By the time we reached the little temple on the northern outskirts of Candikuning it was already quite dark,  We stopped for a few minutes to allow Laurel time to capture some "monkey" photos to post on Facebook.  They seemed to be able to stay in the rain and fog and out of the car's headlights so it was not easy to photograph them.  They are such unpredictable, capricious and sometimes aggressive little animals that we took care to not open the windows too far whilst they were close to the car. 

Mother and baby monkey (through rain and fog)
After a short time we got some useful shots and set off again, stopping only at Candikuning market to allow our driver to buy corn, strawberries and other treats for his wife.  The rain was with us most of the way back to the Kampus. at Dalung.
It was the first trip to the north coast for Laurel, and my third, as I visited the little town of Seririt in 2010 and Singaraja - Lovina in 2011.  It was a long drive, but a nice break from the familiar surrounds of Dalung in South Bali.
Paul in Bali

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