On the way to Ubud and Mount Batur, Central Bali, we passed the village of Mas, where a large Hindu funeral ceremony was taking place – several families had loved ones they wished to send off in the traditional manner.
Usually, what happens when a family member dies is the body is buried in a grave temporarily until the family has saved up enough money to provide a suitable traditional burial for them. The bodies are then removed from the temporary grave and taken to the cremation site, where they are placed on tall, traditional, ornately decorated structures and then cremated. It could be one cremation or several. The people and family who attended the ceremony were all beautifully attired in their traditional dress.
Tourists can stop and watch these ceremonies if they wish, it is supposed to be a quite interesting and cultural experience – unfortunately we didn’t have time – we had other places to go and things to do. Our bemo driver informed us that a small donation for watching/participating is asked for in return.
On the way to Ubud we also passed numerous fields and hills covered with rice paddies or terraces that seemed to be laid out in exquisite patterns – like a patchwork quilt.
We asked Burhan, our driver, to stop at a location where we could take photos of the rice terraces. He stopped the bemo, along with numerous other bemos, at a small village on the road between Mas to Ubud. Obviously this was the best known location to stop, judging from the number of other tourists and vehicles in the area.
The idea here is to get out of the bemo, taxi, whatever, cross the road and descend a set of stairs down to a viewing platform. There are several to pick from. Meanwhile you have to try your best to avoid contact with the merchandise the local people are trying to sell – they have a policy – if you touch you buy and if you are interested in looking you pay a small fee to do so.
There are some spectacular views of the rice terraces to be taken in from these vantage points. We took in the views and, in the process, all the photos we wanted and then it was back to the bemo to proceed on our way to Ubud and Mount Batur.
Ubud, about ¾ hour drive north of Denpasar (without stops), was to be the first stop but, unfortunately, there was a political event happening there and all the main areas of the village were closed of to traffic and visitors at the time we arrived. Burhan drove around in circles for about ½ hour trying all the different roads entering the centre of Ubud but to no avail. Then he suggested that we proceed to Kintamani for lunch and to take in the scenery of Mount Batur.