Monday, August 17, 2009

a youth ceremony in Bali

It was the weekend before our wedding in April 2007 and my fiancée and I were wandering around Bali. On a whim, I decided to go to Seminyak, a beach that is increasingly becoming popular as its neighbor, the overwhelmingly commercial center that is Kuta.


boy crossing the bridge

We were to get married on an auspicious day in the Balinese calendar (near full moon I remember) so the days around it also tend to be ceremony-heavy. Sure enough, when we dropped by the temple at Seminyak, there already was a crowd hovering by the beach. Practically all were teenagers, with nary an adult guiding them. Too bad I forgot to ask what the occasion was. Maybe it was the commemoration of Saraswati, when students would offer gifts to the goddess of the knowledge and learning. Or perhaps not.

Seminyak foot bridge

from the beach

Regardless, I can understand why Bali’s culture remains safe from the dilution of modernity and influence from the external world. Even the youth knows the wisdom of tradition. The heartfelt and easygoing manner they went by the ceremony, from the beach to the temple, showed that custom and faith are in safe hands.

to the temple

boys about to enter the temple

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

early morning scenes at Boracay

Boracay definitely deserves its reputation as a happening place, where one wants to see and be seen. Its night life is renowned for wild parties. Always with its share of socialites, movie actors, models and wannabes, Boracay makes star-spotting an easy sport.

a bikini sandcastle

blue Boracay dawn

empty beach

Early in the morning, Boracay turns a different leaf. The crowd is almost altogether absent and the din is gone. Sunrise is no less beautiful though and for those who’d make the effort, the scenes can be rewarding. Maybe this was Boracay that a lot swore to love many decades ago… if only for a few hours.

White beach before sunrise

boys playing

Boracay sunrise

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

more wild krupuk

So you thought the krupuk here looks outlandish and different? I went back to the same store in Tabanan and my friend took out even more wildly colorful and gorgeously patterned crackers.

krupuk in pink and white

green and white krupuk

colored trim krupuk

violet and white krupuk

With patterns resembling onion-peels and shapes like extruded woven biscuits, the krupuk can be anything in Indonesia. Imagination has no limitations.

mesh krupuk

orange krupuk

multicolored krupuk

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

soaking in the sun at Boracay

There could never be a dull moment in Boracay. Every summer, and even after that, the island teems with people, with local tourists hobnobbing with foreigners seeking fun and solace in the sun.

Here is a partial list of what one can do in the most happening beach in the Philippines:

1. Sunbathe. Most Filipinos probably would want to be fair and white like Caucasians but for the few who love the color brown, the wide white beach is open to all.


2. Lounge under the shade. A definite alternative for those who don’t want #1.

White beach umbrellas

3. Go boating. Explore the neighboring isles and coves of Boracay. One can even opt to go snorkeling or swim in beaches that are in the itinerary. Routs and rates are pretty much standardized.


4. Sail. Local boats called the parao spill all over White Beach waiting for visitors to enjoy the deep blue sea. For a few hours, you can feel oneness with the ocean.


5. Go diving. Premier dive spots abound in Boracay. Spot a manta or explore the wild world of the reef. SCUBA is for all ages.

scuba tanks

6. Cavort. OK, so this is totally for the immodest. But as they say, what happens in Boracay, stayes in Boracay.

cavorting lovers

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the reliefs of Taman Ujung in Karangasem

Taman Ujung, or officially Taman Soekasada Ujung, is an architectural experiment completed in 1919 by King of Karangasem who blended European classic design and traditional Balinese esthetics. The complex is a water palace with pavilions and bridges built over large ponds .

Taman Ujung bridge relief

Taman Ujung bridge relief bokeh

relief from the ruined pavilion

It has suffered extensive damage during the eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963 and during the violent tremblor in 1970. While there are never-ending but unfulfilled plans of further reconstruction, there is enough glimpse of the artistic heights that this palace achieved. Amidst the ruins and the state of disrepair, the palace promontories still offer killer views of the Gunung Agung in the West and the Lombok Strait in the East.

flower relief from the ruined pavilion

Taman ujung relief of the cement fence near the ruins

Taman ujung relief of the cement fence near the ruins

Also notable are the extant bas reliefs in the surviving pavilions, terraces, fences and bridges which depicted characters derived from Hindu legends, most probably from Mahabharata.




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Monday, August 3, 2009

In praise of Makassar’s Hasannudin airport

Arriving in Makassar’s Hasannudin airport last week was a shock, in a most pleasant way. Gone was the cramped musty terminal! In its place is Indonesia’s swankiest and newest airport, with gates and halls that are as wide as football pitches. For more than 70 decades, the old Hasannudin airport has serviced this city, normally considered the gateway of East Indonesia. The market and traffic certainly have grown since and by the time that the new millennium came, the government has started plans to move out of the cramped quarters. It certainly helped that the immediate past vice president Kallah is from South Sulawesi. By no coincidence, the construction of the new airport was fast-tracked and opened just before he left the office. (NB- He ran and lost in last month’s presidential elections).

Bugis boat model
the airport is said to have been designed and built by local contractors

passing through
the predominance of glass ushers in natural light

giant halls
hallways are cavernous so people have to walk long distances inside the terminal

After just about one year of operation, there is still only one international flight flying into Makassar (Air Asia, with Kuala Lumpur flights) but other airlines may just follow suit. With an equally new multi-lane concrete free way shrinking travel time around South Sulawesi, the city of Makassar is ripe for development.

boarding gate
giant boarding gates offer comfortable space to the passengers

air bridge
air bridges connect the boarding gates and the planes

To go: Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport is in South Sulawesi, between the border of its capital city, Makassar and Maros. It is about 17 km from Makassar central via the new toll hiway (15 min).

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